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The 8th Grade “Your Choice, Your Future” Career Exploration day was a success

The Clarksville-Montgomery County School SystemClarksville, TN – The second annual 8th Grade “Your Choice, Your Future” Career Exploration Day was held on Friday, November 18th at the Memorial Health Building (the Red Barn) on Austin Peay State University. 2200 Kids from 7 area middle schools took part in the event which gave them access to potential employers and educational programs.

According to Brenda Scarborough, a Career Tech Counselor for the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System; “You hear kids all the time asking why they have to take this class, or that class.” then she gave an example, “If they are interested in working in a field, they can come and ask someone in that profession what they did in high school to better understand why they need to take the English, Math, and the Sciences; and it gives them a connection to their future careers. These kids start out thinking they know where their career path falls, and after they come here they know where it falls.”

A representative from the Montgomery County EMS speaks with some middle school students
A representative from the Montgomery County EMS speaks with some middle school students

Cyndey Miller the assistant HR Director for the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System was on hand hoping to interest the kids in a teaching career.

“We are actually talking to 8th graders about their career choices, and getting them thinking about their futures.” she said, “I am specifically out here to help encourage the students to consider becoming teachers. It’s very important. If you are recruiting for the teaching profession you got to have students in the 8th, 9th, and 10th grade thinking about becoming teachers because otherwise they are not making those decisions to go into that field.”

Cydney Miller has a message for young people
Cydney Miller has a message for young people

Having attended the inaugural event last year, Miller was impressed with the students she was seeing this year, “This year the students are more prepared, the teachers did an awesome job at getting them ready for today. They have had some really great questions.” Miller was very happy with the response she was getting from students, “I had a lot of students come over and say ‘I want to be a teacher, what I have to do?” To which she responded “Yay!”

Tim Campbell listens to some students at the Your Choice, Your Future Career Exploration day
Tim Campbell listens to some students at the Your Choice, Your Future Career Exploration day

Tim Campbell, a maintenance coach from Bridgestone feels it is important to reach out to the kids while they are still in school. “It gives us contact with the kids at a young age here in our community. It’s increasingly more important that the kids stay in school, and get the math and science education. Those are fundamental for just about every job today including in manufacturing. Events like these help students get on the right path for a career with Bridgestone.”

“What academic skills such as math, science, and English are required in your career” asked Robby Jones (13), a student from Montgomery Central Middle School. “You need English because you have to be able to communicate well. Math and science because we do a lot of cooking,” responded Doretha Minor, a nutritional educator from the Montgomery County office of the UT Agricultural Extension service.

Student Robby Jones speaks with Doretha Minor from the Montgomery County Office of the UT Agricultural Extension Service
Student Robby Jones speaks with Doretha Minor from the Montgomery County Office of the UT Agricultural Extension Service

“It’s been awesome, it has been non-stop. These kids have been great. The kids ask me about the job, the salary and benefits, and the requirements to get the job. They are good questions,” she said afterwards.

Jones had a different career path in mind, “I actually want to become a Forensic Scientist and I want to work in NCIS, and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation booth was really helpful in finding out more about that; and it kind of helped me figure things out a little better,” he said. “I also discussed the S.T.E.M. program with a few people and I am probably going to go to Kenwood High School next year for that. I want to attend college at the University of Mississippi to major in Forensics.”

Chandra Stokes speaks with two young ladies about her Cosmetology program while others wait their turns
Chandra Stokes speaks with two young ladies about her Cosmetology program while others wait their turns

Chandra Stokes, a Skills USA Advisor from Clarksville High School was on hand to talk to young women interested in cosmetology. “It seems like cosmetology is the hot commodity. Women are always going to gravitate to hair, fashion, and makeup,” she said. She offered some advice for students interested in that profession, “Students interested in that field should start with the secondary programs in their high school. Then they can move on to Tennessee Tech or one of three private schools such as with Miller-Motte Technical College, Austin’s Beauty College, and Queen City College right here in Clarksville.”

Misty Jackson Green, a Product Development engineer with the Trane Company was on hand to talk to young people interested in engineering. “We have a variety of people here today including a mechanical engineer, a design engineer, and two guys from our technical service department.” She also had advice for the young people interested in that field. “In high school they want to make sure they get a lot of math and science classes, any kind of engineering, physics, calculus, chemistry, and those kinds of things. In college you are going to need a 4 year bachelor’s degree with a good math and science background with a touch of English as well for better communication skills, presentations, meetings, and stuff like that.”

Misty Green from the Trane Company
Misty Green from the Trane Company

She was a vocal supporter of the S.T.E.M program. “I think the S.T.E.M program is great, my Daughter is in 4th grade and she’s actually started in the stem class this year. I think those programs provide the kids with an excellent foundation by helping them to understand more about the world, and what they do in it.”

Cw2 Athena Peterson, from the 2-17th Calvary, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade with some of her fellow soldiers
Cw2 Athena Peterson, from the 2-17th Calvary, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade with some of her fellow soldiers

Cw2 Athena Peterson, from the 2-17th Calvary, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade was envious of the opportunity available to local students. When told about the S.T.E.M. program she said, “That’s amazing I wish they would have had that when I was there. Just because I am in the maintenance side of the house I see a lot of that and I wish I had had that kind of opportunity when I was growing up.”

She continued, “It’s very important in my opinion to talk to these kids. Looking back and knowing how much education is involved. In the military education is non-stop. You can enter the military without a college degree but to get promoted you have to pursue it.”

Attorney Kevin Kennedy from the Kennedy Law Firm has been involved in educating students both in the Class Room as a substitute teacher, and at events like these. “I think the benefits of coming out and talking to theses kids are enormous. You can’t operate in the legal profession without a good education. My father was a barber, and getting a good education opened the way for my success in the legal profession. The pursuit of higher education makes possible a better quality of life.”

Attorney Kevin Kennedy from the Kennedy Law Firm talks with a student
Attorney Kevin Kennedy from the Kennedy Law Firm talks with a student

As an employer he had some useful advice for anyone who may be looking for work. “In pursuit of a legal career, students need a good attitude and a ton of commitment. They should make the best grades they can,” he said. “All of those are qualities we are looking for. When an employer is looking for a new employee they look for specific traits; integrity is always a big one, character, and the image they project.”

He then outlined what path students interested in the law as a career should concentrate on, “In the legal profession students need English because you have to be a great communicator, writing, and also history. History teaches us all the strategies for problem solving and conflict resolution. There’s a big wave across America for mediation and arbitration that is trying to cut the costs of being in court, and there will be a whole host of new careers in the legal profession arising from that.” he said.

This event strives to get the students set on the paths they need to follow whatever their academic and career choices may be, and it appears to be a great success. Programs such as this need our support if you are a parent, or an area employer. For more information about the program, or to take part next year contact Brenda Scarborough via email at .

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Bill Larson
Bill Larson
Bill Larson is  is politically and socially active in the community. Bill is a member of the Friends of Dunbar Cave. You can reach him via telephone at 931-249-0043 or via the email address below.
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