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The City Journals

Elementary students explore future career possibilities

Feb 05, 2019 03:43PM ● By Julie Slama

At East Sandy Elementary, students listen to Home Depot Assistant Manager Pan Ylincheta as part of their Career Day. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

While students learned what a realtor or a geologist does, they also were learning the underlying message about getting good grades and upon high school graduation, being college and career ready, said a Canyons School District coordinator.

“Career Day is a hit for every elementary in our district,” Careet and Technical Education (CTE) District Coordinator Patti Larken said. “They learn about key people in our community for emergencies, communication or those who make an impact and they may not even realize it. At the same time, they’re discovering what these people need to know to be successful and that their learning began in school.”

Both East Sandy and Granite elementaries held their Career Day Dec. 7, each featuring about 20 speakers, many of them parents, who outlined what they do, who they help and what they needed to learn to enter their profession.

“We have parents speak for about 15 minutes at four classrooms,” Work-Based Learning Aide Pat Wetzel said at East Sandy Elementary. “They speak on different careers from a rocket motor aircraft manufacturer to an orthodontist to a professional ballet teacher. It gives students a great feel for career exploration.”

Home Depot Assistant Manager Pan Ylincheta told students how she ended up in her career.

“Life has a funny way to get you into your career which you don’t always plan,” she said.

While she wanted to teach first grade, college wasn’t an affordable option, so instead she got her business management technical degree and worked for Smith’s for 15 years before switching to Home Depot.

“I learned it’s important to communicate to employees so your speaking and writing skills are critical,” she said. “I use math when I forecast upcoming sales and use a spreadsheet for our $63 million in products. I also need to stay current with technology. With this mini-phone, I can communicate with stores from Mexico to Canada, can look how much inventory we have, which stores have it and know which employees are sick. I can do pretty much anything except make the president dance.”

Ryan Barnes, who is the director for Food Ops with Associated Foods, said that having an understanding of world geography, cuisine and supply-and-demand help with his career in knowing which produce grows where and when and how to ship them.

“I use math in knowing how to buy it and track how long it can be on a store shelf before going bad,” said the father of an East Sandy kindergartner, third-grader and fifth-grader. “I have to read a lot to stay on top of current trends and to further my education. With my job, I am able to learn from everyone, build relationships and engage in cuisine from all over the world.”

Fifth-grade teacher Anne Hansen appreciated her speakers tying their careers to their education.

“It shows how the skills they’re learning are meaningful and important in their careers,” she said. “And it’s special for those kids who have parents come in and be part of their learning. The kids just light up.”

Teacher Ann Butler plans to have her students write about the careers they learned about and what job they may want with a plan outlining how they will get ready for it.

“It’s important to see what careers are available and what they can do if they stay in school and prepare for it,” she said.

At Granite, Jessica Davidson talked to students about pre-mature infants, showing tiny pacifiers and a mold of their tiny hands. She explained how they help the babies breathe with a breathing tube.

Third-grade teacher Adriana Velazquez, who planned to have students write about their goals and how they were going to reach them, appreciated how the speakers shared aspects of their careers.

“They discussed with them the sensitivity of their jobs, but also how they liked it and their passions,” she said. “They told them how they prepared so they were college and career ready.”

Third-grader Jack Locher appreciated learning from Shawn Berger about his electric bike operation.

“He taught us a lot about bikes, the engine, wearing helmets, the tools he needed and owning a business,” he said. “He doesn’t have to drive to work, but he is able to make his passion what he does.”

Occupational therapist Marcia Jacobs said she uses many resources in her job, from food to equipment, to help her patients. For example, she said hot tamale candies with their strong flavor helps to calm people down while gummy sours’ taste wakes up people so they’re able to concentrate.

For people who have difficulty concentrating and seem to hear even the ticking of a clock, she suggests headphones to tune out distractions and noises. Movement also helps people concentrate, as Jacobs had some second-graders try various activities. 

“It’s a fun profession,” she said about helping many pre-school through middle school students at a charter school. “I’m able to help motivate students or help them in class. The career reaches out to those in skilled nursing facilities, post-surgical patients or athletes with sports injuries. I use math, science, English and art, as the career is both artistic as well as scientific. I love I get to be creative to make it work, but I also understand how it works.”

Fashion consultant Reachel Bagley showed students and even teacher Lisa Hekking how to determine which colors look best for their skin color to develop their own signature style.

“I loved coming in to steer people into building their own unique career,” Bagley said, adding that she studied marketing, but developed her career while being a stay-at-home mother. “It’s fun to try to know what looks and makes you project your best self.”

Hekking said she hopes her students listened for them to take their dream and work hard to learn about it and what they need to be successful.

“Many careers we learned about need a college degree or vocational training,” she said. “Students learned they will need education throughout their lives.”

Park Lane, Crescent, Brookwood, Willow Canyon and Sandy elementaries held Career Days in the fall. Other Sandy elementaries will invite career speakers this spring.