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The City Journals

Cottonwood Heights elementary students excited for future careers — after getting their education

May 08, 2019 03:15PM ● By Julie Slama

At Ridgecrest Elementary, third grade students learned that John Farmer “kept his eyes open for a lucky break” for his careers in music, film and water purification. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

After spending a morning learning about career options, Bella Vista fifth grade student Kip Mapson was trying to figure out how he could both be involved in astronomy and as a team mascot in his future career.

“I’ve learned about the rover landing on the moon and Mars, and from it we can learn about other planets,” he said. “Without oxygen, it’s the best way we can study places, but I would like to be a part of that field, to go into space to learn. I also think it would be fun, watching a professional team up close as a team mascot or seeing the costume I helped create being worn for a team. It would be an honor.”

Those are just two careers Cottonwood Heights students learned about as local professionals, some who are parents, came into the four elementary schools to share their careers. Career Day hosted volunteers who shared their careers from airline pilot to kidney transplant nursing at the four local elementary schools.

“Canyons (School) District is trying to ignite the passion in what the future could be like for them,” Bella Vista Principal Cory Anderson said. “Some of them may not have been exposed to these careers before.”

Bella Vista fifth grade teacher Sara McBee also points out that by learning about these careers firsthand, students are also learning what preparation they need to succeed.

“They see cool jobs, but also learn how math, computers, language arts are used and how they are real-life skills in careers,” she said.

After listening to people who worked with Lockheed Martin, in law enforcement, as a college professor and creating professional mascots, McBee asked students to write what they learned, what their college or career path may be, and questions they still had about the profession as well as a thank-you note to the presenters.

Students also learned how life skills, such as communication and people skills, are incorporated into professions.

Hairstylist Keisha Heberman told Bella Vista first grade students that in her profession, she uses math — to mix color — but she also can be artistic and creative.

“But no matter what, I need to be kind,” she said. “Kindness and building relationships are important in any career.”

At Ridgecrest, where students learned about careers from photography to cybersecurity, first grade teacher Courtney Terry said it really energized her students.

“They got to learn from a NASA engineer about building space shuttles to a photographer who travels the world, doing what he loves,” she said. “They’re really excited to go to college so they can have real-life jobs.”

In third grade, students learned that John Farmer “kept his eyes open for a lucky break.” He explained that he used that opportunity to juggle his multiple careers.

Farmer used his passion for music to introduce the Global Music Radio (GMR.FM) that features local, independent musicians, and next year he will start 20-20-20: 20 cities, 20 concerts in 20 days. He also is a filmmaker and has made a feature film about local musician Forrest Shaw, as well as the issues surrounding Salt Lake City in the film “City of Salt.”

However, he also caught a break and is in the water purification business and helps to clean water after oil fracking.

“Science and technology is where everything is going,” he told students. “Focus on math and English now, but go into science, and be willing to do multiple jobs. Look for an opportunity and go for it.”

Third grader Victoria Jardine said she learned not only it is important to take care of the earth, but also it is important to want to do the job to be successful.

Her teacher, Bonnie White, said she appreciated the speakers who encouraged students to make the most of themselves.

“They promoted education and also walking through those open doorways to be who they want to be,” she said.

At Canyon View, Richard Hite also introduced the idea of self-employment to third graders. Hite not only owns a barber school in Midvale, but he also sells Snoflings, a plastic toy for throwing snowballs farther.

“What this means is that maybe you should think about if you want to work for someone, which is great, and you don’t have to worry about payroll or business expenses, or do you want to own your own company, and have people work for you?” he said.

That question resonated with third grader Danika Morzelewski, who said she learned she could own multiple businesses, not just one.

“I’ve always wanted to invent something, since I was 5,” she said of learning about new jobs she didn’t know about before career day. “It would be cool to own my own business, to be an entrepreneur.”

Classmate Will Croft said people in careers not only focus on making money, but also their passion.

“I’m thinking about being an engineer or a lawyer and I’d need money to go to school, but I learned from speakers today that maybe I could get a job while I get my college degree doing something that I love and that will help me get money to pay for law school,” he said.

In her first season coordinating promotions for the Utah Jazz, Kera Thompson said she is doing a job she loves, but it’s one that challenges her as she has to be able to think on her feet from changing the mood of the fans after a fight with the Timberwolves to what to do if the Bear isn’t ready on cue.

“It can be nerve-wracking, but it also is a lot of fun,” she told students. “I use skills I learned in school, reading cue cards and speaking in front of 20,000 people. I need to be confident. I use a lot of social skills, interacting with the fans and with my colleagues, making everyone comfortable and feeling like they’re a part of the team.”

Assistant Police Chief Paul Brenneman hoped that being part of career day makes students feel comfortable around police officers as he shared with students his primary job is to protect citizens, the difference between a uniform police officer and one who investigates crimes, and how education is important to his career.

“I’m here to tell you, all of you, you need to go to college and get a degree,” he said. “I use skills I learn in school every time I go out and communicate with people or when I write up a report. I am using reading, writing and math.”

He then answered questions about 16 weeks of POST training, bloodhounds as police dogs, not to call 911 as a prank, what SWAT does, and even doughnuts, where he endorsed Krispy Kreme.

“They’re the best doughnut, right off the rack; they’re like heaven,” he said. 

Career Day speaker Mike Williams, who has had several jobs from military to college development, gave this career advice: “You need to be a team player, follow instructions and think of how you can be a service to others to be successful in life.