Career Fair Combines Vision with Reality
by Robert Cox
"What do you want to be when you grow up?" This is a question children are frequently asked. Sometimes they have a good idea of what to do with their lives, but other times they have not a clue. Middlesboro Elementary School Guidance Counselor Theresa Allen decided to provide an opportunity for kids to see and inquire about jobs with the school's first-ever Career Fair.
On Friday, Oct. 16 nearly two dozen businesses and professions were represented at the school. Teachers guided their classes to the various exhibits and displays and allowed children to talk to the professionals.
John Day, a US Postal Service City carrier, explained that each day he delivers mail to 1800 customers. "Completion is a favorite aspect of my job," he explained. "I can go home only after everyone's letters and packages have been delivered."
Representing ARH Hospital were lab supervisor Julie Pitt and rehab coordinator Melanie Harris. Pitt provided a graphic display showing the relationship of red and white blood cells and platelets. Harris demonstrated to students the proper way to wear a backpack and talked to them about weight limits.
Robin Hoskins of Home Federal Bank stuck to the basics. "What is a bank? And what jobs are done at a bank" she asked a group of 4th graders.
The LMU Caylor School of Nursing talked about the 770 students they are currently teaching in our region.
The two Chads, Chad Shannon and Chad Evans, represented State Farm Insurance. "What is insurance? Why do we need it? What is the problem when we don't have insurance?" they asked 3rd graders, who had some interesting responses. The kids seemed to like the free pencils too.
Brandon Dover, Josh Keck, and Chris England brought the big ladder truck from Middlesboro Fire and EMS. They explained career requirements and job duties, and then elicited shrieks and cries from the students as England rose high above the crowd on the engine's big ladder. "We do get cats out of trees," Dover explained. "That's not just something you see on TV," he added.
Southeast Kentucky Community & Technical College was represented by a group of nursing students. "Careers start here," commented math professor Paige Cloud. When asked what are the characteristics of a good nurse, students replied, "They have to be tough, hard-working, but compassionate and caring. It's a helping profession."
Sgt. Major Jackson of Middlesboro High School ROTC had a group of his students there demonstrating physical training skills that soldiers need to learn. He said there were currently about 70 students in the program at MHS. "We stress citizenship skills and encourage students to stay in school and graduate, " he remarked.
Jeff Moore and Todd Walters of Jeff's Pharmacy brought their eye-catching smart car decorated with the Good Neighbor logo. The kids see the vehicle about town as their staff deliver prescriptions. "As a parent myself, I see the importance of showing kids what they can accomplish by having a good education," Moore stated.
"Radio has changed since your grandma's days," said Rita Hansard (Kennedy in the Morning) from WFXY radio. Hansard set up an actual remote broadcast from the school parking lot, and kids got to hear themselves as their voices went out over the air from WFXY's on-site vehicle.
"A park ranger has to love the great outdoors," said Ranger G. Wesloh of the Cumberland Gap National Historic Park, accompanied by Shane Sturgill.
An auto dealership features more jobs than just selling cars, according to a representative of Tim Short Chrysler. Kids learned about the education and training they need to work in a dealership and were treated to a view of a cool lime-green 4X4 truck.
Caleb Noe came to represent WYMT-TV. Noe is the Cumberland Valley Bureau Chief and reports on stories from Bell and surrounding counties. "People think TV reporting is glamorous work," he said, "but really we're on call 24/7 whenever a story breaks." He added, "It's important to have a connection with the community. Local people are proud of where they come from, and a good reporter showcases their accomplishments."
Elizabeth Edwardson and her daughter Grace brought the Bookmobile from the Bell County Public Library. Students climbed aboard and saw the variety of books and materials available to residents all over the county. "If they can't come to the library," said Edwardson, "then the library comes to them."
Lt. Chris Reckline of the Salvation Army brought a mobile kitchen and showed students how food can be prepared during a community disaster. "It doesn't have to be a huge event," he stated. "We can even come to the location of a house fire and prepare food on-site for the family who has lost everything."
Officer Petie Gilbert of the Middlesboro Police Department patiently allowed students to explore every inch of his police cruiser.
Theresa Allen remarked, "Our career fair brings a real-world experience to our kids. We want them to see the connection between education and jobs." She added, "An event such as this addresses our required teaching of Practical Living Standards."
MES Principal Dr. Tony Maxwell added his appreciation to all the community business and professional people who came out to make this event a success. "An event like this helps motivate the students to work hard toward a goal or career they are passionate about," he concluded.