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Poland 7th-graders explore career options, practice interviewing for jobs

Jan. 28, 2019




Student on left sitting at table as teacher and classmates look on


Poland Central School District seventh-grader Kyle Grimaldi (left) participates in a mock job interview on Tuesday, Jan. 8, during his introduction to career education class with business teacher Mark Kall. Interviewing Kyle are his classmates sitting across from him (from closest to farthest from camera): Elizabeth Muller, Hayley Stephens and Emma Taylor, as Kall and the rest of the class look on.





POLAND – A candidate for a detective position recently spoke confidently about his education, his skills, his strengths and weaknesses, the responsibilities of the job, why he wants the position and why he’s the best person for the job.

The candidate was 12-year-old Poland Central School District seventh-grader Kyle Grimaldi, and he was participating in a practice job interview session in his introduction to career education class.

“I think I did great on the interview, and I think I would do great someday on the real interview about it,” Kyle said. “I think it’s going to help me very much. If I didn’t take this, I probably wouldn’t know what doing an interview would be like.”

All Poland seventh-graders are taking the introduction to career education class this school year with Poland business teacher Mark Kall. In addition to the mock job interviews, the current career exploration project for the students included determining their interests at home and at school, completing a career interest survey, using the survey results to select a career cluster and specific career they’re interested in, researching the career, rating their work habits, creating a resume, filling out a job application and developing a business card.

Introduction to career education fulfills the requirements of a family and consumer sciences or home and careers course, as the New York State Education Department has allowed districts to adapt their career and technical education credits to reflect 21st century changes.

Schools now can offer family and consumer sciences or offer agriculture, business and marketing, health science, technology education or trade and technical education in its place.

Poland is one of the first schools in the state to try one of those options, Poland Principal Greg Cuthbertson said.

“This is new,” he said. “The curriculum is new. The class is new. I think you’re going to start to see more and more districts moving in this direction.”

The change by the state in what was allowed came as a response to a lack of family and consumer sciences teachers and as a way to help prepare students for college and careers, Cuthbertson said.

“It opened up opportunities for 21st century skills for kids,” Cuthbertson said. “Things are changing. The landscape of how kids are learning is changing. Because Mr. Kall had the business background, it just seemed like a natural fit for us.”

‘Great experience’


Kall, who spent more than 35 years working in sales, marketing and business management and administration, said the recent career exploration project is one part of his class that will benefit students.

“I know how important it is to be prepared for career choices,” he said.

The guidance office will receive the students’ complete career packets to help with future planning, Kall said.

This multi-week project started before the winter recess and continued with mock job interviews into the week of Monday, Jan. 7.

As students researched a career of their choice, they looked into various aspects such as the duties and responsibilities of the position, what education is required to go into the field and what skills are necessary for the career.

For the mock job interviews, the students were able to prepare and use notes for their answers to six questions. All students were interviewed by three peers, and all students had at least one chance to be the interviewer. When students were not interviewing or being interviewed, they observed the process and wrote compliments and suggestions.

Practicing job interviews is a great way to prepare students for one of the challenges of finding a job, Kall said.

“Of all the things I’ve been involved with, a job interview is one of the toughest experiences you’ll go through, but it’s great experience,” he said.

In general, teaching students involves helping them learn reading, writing, listening and speaking, Kall said.

“This is the speaking part,” he said.

‘Where I want to be’


Kyle explained why he chose a detective career for his project.

“I might pursue it one day, and I really like it,” he said.

During the research part of the project, Kyle learned about the educational requirements to become a detective and the amount of money someone in the job would make, he said.

Leading up to the mock interview, Kyle prepared notes and reviewed them a couple of different nights.

“I just practiced it over and over,” he said.

When it came time to be interviewed, he was ready.

“I felt nervous, but I felt like I was going to do really good with it,” he said.

Poland seventh-grader Emma Taylor, 12, also went into the interviews feeling good about her preparation.

“I was just a little nervous, but I felt like I was prepared and I did great,” she said.

Emma chose baker as her career path for the project.

“I’ve always wanted to work with food,” she said.

From a young age, Emma would get a bowl and various ingredients given to her by her family and would enjoy mixing them together for fun. That progressed into her actually cooking as she got older, and her family has been supportive of her career interest. She thinks she will probably go into a culinary field, she said.

The research completed for her project was helpful for planning her educational and career path, Emma said.

“It made me think about what I have to do to be where I want to be to do this job,” she said.

Emma also enjoyed other aspects of the project.

“I liked the business card,” she said. “I thought it was fun to design my own how I wanted to.”

About the class


Introduction to career education is a half-credit course that students take every other day and is part of the required one-and-three-quarters CTE credits students are required to teach.

Students also earn a quarter CTE credit in sixth grade and a full CTE credit in eighth grade with teacher Mark Harlander’s technology class.

Kall worked closely with Dawn Mastroianni, a senior consultant with the CTE Technical Assistance Center of New York, to develop the class and its curriculum. Her agency works in conjunction with the New York State Education Department to assist districts with adapting to the changes in CTE curriculum.

The class focuses on six theme modules:

·         Communication and interpersonal skills

·         Career and community opportunities

·         Health, safety and wellness

·         Financial and consumer literacy

·         Problem solving and integration

·         Sustainability


Introduction to career education also focuses on the business and career content areas of business communication, entrepreneurship, computer literacy for the workplace and career portfolio.

The class helps students become college and career ready by preparing them in a practical sense – while also fulfilling their academic preparation, Kall said. Students learn about financial management, handling money, banking, insurance and more, he said.

“It’s not just about whether you get an 80 on the Regents exam,” he said.

Kall encourages students to also take his career and financial management class in high school, he said.

Cuthbertson said the class helps expose students to business aspects of life and assists them with understanding the topics.

“I think it’s great they’re preparing for what they’ll have to do,” he said. “It’s real-life skills.”

Cuthbertson recently did an observation in the class, and students were learning about taxes and what taxes are taken out of a paycheck.

“I think kids don’t know that until it happens, so being able to understand at early age is important,” he said.

Another theme


The introduction to career education class also completed research to gain and strengthen understanding about the health, safety and wellness module. The curriculum connects with some of the mental health education literacy content recently released by the New York State Education Department.

In relation to this content, students learned about and researched the effects that opioids, marijuana, methamphetamines and other drugs would have on someone in the workplace. They worked in groups to create posters about the potential impacts on job performance for a teacher, surgeon or other profession.

Ambi Daniel, family support navigator for the Center for Family Life and Recovery, visited the class on Thursday, Jan. 3, to share information about drug addiction and its effects on families.

Cuthbertson is pleased with how the new course is coming together.

Cuthbertson said Kall has an ability to develop engaging activities for middle school and utilize regional speakers for his classroom topics that strengthen the content.

“The career research, interviews and family support speaker tied three modules together:  communication and interpersonal skills; career and community opportunities and health, safety and wellness,” Cuthbertson said. “In the first year of teaching this content, Kall has already seen that the participation from students becomes more active when students see how the instructional topics overlap and the content connects to lives beyond the classroom.”



Student sitting at desk as three students interview him


Poland Central School District seventh-grader Kyle Grimaldi participates in a mock job interview on Tuesday, Jan. 8, during his introduction to career education class with business teacher Mark Kall. Interviewing Kyle are his classmates sitting across from him (from left): Elizabeth Muller, Hayley Stephens and Emma Taylor.




Student speaks during mock job interview holding a paper in his hand


Poland Central School District seventh-grader Kyle Grimaldi participates in a mock job interview on Tuesday, Jan. 8, during his introduction to career education class with business teacher Mark Kall. Kyle chose detective as his career for the project and said the practice interview helped him for the future.




Students sits at left at table in front of teacher and her classmates


Poland Central School District seventh-grader Elizabeth Muller (left) participates in a mock job interview on Tuesday, Jan. 8, during her introduction to career education class with business teacher Mark Kall. Interviewing Elizabeth are her classmates sitting across from her (from closest to farthest from camera): Kyle Grimaldi, Hayley Stephens and Emma Taylor, as Kall and the rest of the class look on.




Three students and teacher interview a student


Poland Central School District seventh-grader Gianna Gimelli participates in a mock job interview on Tuesday, Jan. 8, during her introduction to career education class with business teacher Mark Kall. Interviewing Gianna are her classmates sitting across from her (from left): Carissa Bronson, Elizabeth Muller and Emma Taylor. Kall (right) looks on and takes notes.




View from across the table as a student does a mock job interview


Poland Central School District seventh-grader Zack Gee participates in a mock job interview on Tuesday, Jan. 8, during his introduction to career education class with business teacher Mark Kall.




Student at table on the left as three students and teacher sit across from her


Poland Central School District seventh-grader Haylie Lowe participates in a mock job interview on Tuesday, Jan. 8, during her introduction to career education class with business teacher Mark Kall. Interviewing Haylie are her classmates sitting across from her (from left): Brian Bronson, Emily Satterlee and Hadyn Miller. Kall (right) looks on and takes notes.




Guest speaker in front of introduction to career education class


Poland Central School District seventh-graders listen to guest speaker Ambi Daniel, family support navigator for the Center for Family Life and Recovery, on Thursday, Jan. 3, during their introduction to career education class with business teacher Mark Kall. Daniel spoke about drug addiction and its effects on families.




Guest speaker points to a brain graphic on display in classroom


Ambi Daniel, family support navigator for the Center for Family Life and Recovery, speaks to Poland Central School District seventh-graders in the introduction to career education class with business teacher Mark Kall on Thursday, Jan. 3. Daniel spoke about drug addiction and its effects on families.