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Poland students receive exposure to career options

July 30, 2018




Students using welding simulator


Poland Central School District students use a welding simulator during a career day in March. The career day was one of many college and career exposure activities during the 2017-18 school year.





Poland Central School District students Heather Artz and Keara Blumenstock had the opportunity to talk to patients and learn what the work day is like during a job shadowing experience this past school year at Kress Physical Therapy.

“I think it’s something that I really want to do because you get to help so many people,” Artz said, of physical therapy. “You’re working with patients from different backgrounds with the same goal: to get better.”

Poland Central School District students participated in a wide variety of activities related to college and career exposure during the 2017-18 school year put on by the school, the guidance department and the Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES School to Careers program.

Some of the highlights included a College Now information session, College Now registration opportunities, eighth-graders and 10th-graders visiting Herkimer BOCES Career and Technical Education and Valley Pathways in Technology Early College High School classrooms, ninth-graders visiting Herkimer College for a career day and tour, a career fair at Onondaga Community College, the schoolwide career day at Poland, a college fair at Herkimer College and the job shadowing day for juniors.

‘That connection’

Career exposure such as through job shadowing makes the students’ education more relevant, encourages them to ask questions about their students and think about what they like or don’t like about different jobs, Poland Guidance Director Janice Watrous said.

“I think it’s an integral part of our program here just to see the hands-on, real-world aspects of what they’re studying,” she said. “I think just to get them to make that connection to what they’re studying and the opportunities that are out there.”

The job shadowing experiences help some juniors decide on their schedules for their senior year and lead to internships for some students. Going to job sites allows students to get a better idea if they like a job – or if it’s an option they realize they don’t want to do and can cross off their list, Watrous said.

“That’s just as important,” she said.

Younger students also receive career exposure through the schoolwide career day and activities such as having fifth-and sixth-graders make family trees that include what job each person does and what job they want to do, Watrous said.

“I think the younger the kids think about this stuff, the better,” she said.

‘Great experience’

There were 53 juniors that participated in the job shadowing day in April.

Artz said one of the reasons she wanted to visit Kress Physical Therapy was because it is a local business that the owner started. She and Blumenstock heard what it was like to go to college for physical therapy, get a degree, work for another company and start your own company.

Job shadowing is really good career exposure for students and gives you an idea of what a job is really like before you commit to it, Artz said. Even if students end up not liking the job they shadow, that’s still helpful, she said.

“If you go and don’t really enjoy it, you can cross that off your list and start looking at something else,” she said.

Poland student Joe Grimaldi did his job shadowing at Aesthetic Oral Arts in New Hartford. He watched a crown placement and the adjusting of braces, talked to a dentist and sat in on a staff meeting.

“It was really interesting,” he said. “It was a great experience.”

Grimaldi said he is interested in chemistry and dentistry, and he liked watching the operation. Job shadowing is a good idea for students, he said.

“It’s helpful by just giving kids the opportunity to discover what they really want to do,” he said.

'Can do anything'

The career day for kindergarten to 12th grade in March was organized by Poland and the Herkimer BOCES School to Careers program. Students visited with professionals from various career clusters during the event, which took place in rooms across the school, with different guests for younger and older students.

During the opening of the event for older students, Poland Principal Greg Cuthbertson talked about the importance of the career day.

“I encourage you to go in with an open mind and listen to what they have to say because our goal at Poland is to prepare you for after school – college and careers,” he said.

Herkimer BOCES School to Careers liaison and work-based learning coordinator MaryBeth Napolitano asked students to think throughout the day about what they want to do after high school.

“I believe in each and every one of you,” she said. “You can do anything you put your mind to.”

At the end of the event, Cuthbertson reflected on when he was the students’ age and never thinking he would become a principal. He said he hoped the students would keep an open mind and that they took something away from the event.

“It gets you to think a little bit,” he said. “That’s what today was about.”