Career Week introduces elementary students to future possibilities

From College Days to Career Week, our elementary students have been introduced to the many possibilities that await them upon high school graduation.

Students were excited to learn about the various career opportunities from many friends in our community (a few were even Cohoes alumni) who spoke to them about their particular fields. From a video game designer to a medical lab worker to a news reporter, students had a well-rounded week and came away with much to think about.

Van Schaick Principal Jacqueline DeChiaro started hosting Career Week five years ago as a follow-up to College Day In January.

We want the students to look at different career paths and connect their learning to the real world,” said Mrs. DeChiaro. “Everything we do in the classroom is to prepare our students for life after school.”

While lessons often include glimpses and information about different careers and jobs, having a guest speaker share their experiences can be more impactful.

“It is important to start early so that students are exposed to as many careers as possible,” said said, “You never know what they will connect with, what might give them the spark to say, ‘That’s what I want to be when I grow up!’”

Their line-up for the week included: a fireman/woman, an entrepreneur, professional athlete from the Albany FireWolves, an engineer and linemen from National Grid (alumni)

Over at Harmony Hill, Social Emotional Learning Coach Amie Maguire chose to focus on careers that were interesting, engaging and in fields you wouldn’t normally come across. Grades 3-5  attended presentations, while K-2 had fun lessons in class through books and videos.

Their guest speakers included a former player and current referee for the NHL, a senior architectural designer, a video game designer and the owner of a tree service.

“Our goal for Career Week is to educate students on engaging careers and to introduce them to careers using skills they already enjoy doing.”

For example, speaker Eric Zordan, senior architectural designer for SEI Design Group, told students that his love of legos and drawing helped him realize his desire to pursue a career in architecture. (Fun sidenote: “Lego Masters” reality TV show contacted Mr. Zordan and asked him to try out, but with work and two children keeping him busy, he wasn’t able to.)

Former Cohoes City School Board Member and alumni Matt Nolin has been playing video games for many years and is lucky enough to have turned that fun hobby into a career as a videogame designer. He wowed students when he revealed the many popular games he has had a hand in designing, such as LeapFrog learning games, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, Diablo, and Fortnite. 

“Our overarching goal was to introduce students to careers they could see themselves in,” said Mrs. Maguire, stressing the importance of doing events like these in elementary schools. “Students are asked in their junior year of high school what they want to do when they grow up, so it’s important to do this now.”

Harmony Hill is also doing a second career week in May. Students will take part in quizzes to determine their interests in future careers, make posters and learn about the trades. 

While Abram Lansing Elementary teachers have discussed career options with students over the years through Junior Achievement and other lessons, this was the first time they embarked on an entire week of career readiness.

To help plan events, a Career Week Committee was formed that included Mrs. Keough, Mrs. Skidmore, Mr. Blackman, Ms. Brand, Mrs. Capecelatro, Ms. Kodadar, and Mrs. Rosen. Together the team came up with a plan for the week, which included guest speakers and fun activities. 

They welcomed two representatives from National Grid (one alumni), two Cohoes City detectives (one alumni) and a Lieutenant (alumni), a NewsChannel 13 anchor and meteorologist (alumni), high school Athletic Director (alumni) and Cohoes City Mayor Bill Keeler. 

“We all had a wonderful time and learned so much. It was a powerful opportunity to show students all the unique careers and pathways they can achieve,” said second grade teacher Jackie Skidmore. “They discovered how their individual passions can contribute to identifying a career path that brings daily enjoyment. It’s never too soon or too late to begin thinking about your dream job.”

The week also included storytellers from History is Her Story, learning lacrosse with the Albany FireWolves and virtual career tours! On the final day, students were encouraged to dress up in their future career attire. 

Career Week was a hit among students and teachers alike, and we thank all of our special guests for helping shape our students’ futures.

Preparing our students for success in tomorrow’s world.

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