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Draper Elementary Students Prepare For College, Careers

Jan 23, 2015 10:17AM ● Published by Julie Slama

Firefighter Grady Wroblewski talks to Draper Elementary first-grader Lincoln Lewis during the school’s career day.

A pilot, engineer, surgeon, firefighter, veterinarian, art director, chef, bomb squad member and others recently told Draper Elementary students the importance of studying while in school to help them pursue attending a college or getting a job in their chosen career field.

By having students start thinking about careers or college in elementary school, they are able to tie in subject matters with their future, Principal Piper Riddle said.

“Doing so gives greater purpose to the work we do daily — when students see that their spelling, their math skills and their knowledge about science and history matter beyond their classroom walls, we have helped make learning real and relevant for them,” she said.

During the school’s college and career week, Jan. 5-9, students could wear their favorite college gear to school and think about their future by writing about their career plans. Some students even filled out a mock college application.

“We had students practice writing a formal letter by writing a college entrance letter as well as fill out an application about why they wanted to attend college and what they wanted to study,” fourth-grade teacher Amy Beckart said.

For example, students wrote that they wanted to be a wildlife rescuer because they like elephants and want to save them from poachers or a dentist to help people have shiny teeth or pro sports players since they’ve been practicing their whole lives.

This led to deeper thinking about their future, fourth-grade teacher Jennifer Asay said.

“It’s fine that they want to play sports in college, but they can’t major in sports so they had to examine other interests,” she said.

Teachers also participated by posting a sign by their classroom door indicating their degrees, which colleges they attended and indicating what career they’d consider if they weren’t a teacher.

The week ended with career day where parents and those in the community came to talk to students about their profession, their education and the pros and cons of their career.

Orem firefighter and paramedic Grady Wroblewski wanted students to know not to be afraid of firefighters who may be dressed in full gear.

“Don’t be afraid if we walk in with all this gear on and have a mask that makes us sound a little funny,” he said. “We’re there to help. And don’t be afraid to call 9-1-1, but only call when you need to.”

First-grade teacher Aimee Anderson said his visit and others tied into the students’ study about their community and those who are working in it. She plans to have students write about the visits.

LANDESK software training and professional services coordinator Kathryn Healey said she volunteered to share with students about her career in computer technology because “everything is changing, needed and moves at hyper speed.”

Riddle said she wants students to realize that hard work and learning leads to opportunity, both now and in their future with both higher education and careers.

“We saw this as an opportunity to make connections for our students between things we learn throughout the year — computer science, math, writing — to their futures, including post-secondary education and careers. The parent career day was the initial event, and since that day always generates such excitement and possibility for our students, we wanted to expand that enthusiasm and real-world application of our learning beyond just the one-day event,” she said.       
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