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Getting an early start

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Students can look at a fire truck and police cars during a Careers on Wheels day.

Kindergarten students draw what career they see themselves doing in 20 years. Every child at Creekside Elementary School in Franklin will visit a local college and see what a campus looks like.

State and federal education standards call for elementary school students to be exposed to secondary schooling and careers. Creekside educators take that standard and have made teaching career readiness a passion.

The school’s counselor, Samantha Vidal, has talked to parents about saving for college and has won statewide awards for her work. She said she wants students and parents to know that it is never too early to talk about college and careers.

“It’s something that they need to be thinking about now,” she said. “We want to get them thinking that they are lifelong learners.”

Students in every grade will have learned about possible careers before the end of the school year.

Kindergarten students are encouraged to write what they want to be when they grow up, even if a little girl wants to be a princess and a little football player wants to go pro, Principal Mark Heiden said.

Students in other grades have a career day. Second-graders see what kind of careers involve vehicles. Fourth-graders hear from speakers and have mock interviews.

The key is getting kids to recognize a career and connect career readiness to school every day, Vidal said.

For example, Vidal and teachers will talk to students about good-paying

careers and low-paying jobs and what grades are needed to get the best job.

“(We) explain the availability of low-skill jobs versus high-skill jobs,” she said.

Students in higher grades will leave Creekside knowing the basics of a resume and what questions might be asked on a job interview. And students learn how to connect their hobbies to a job that will pay them for doing what they love.

“We tell them that, if they have an interest, you can do something you are interested in and get paid,” she said.

Efforts to boost career readiness at Creekside started about five years ago. Educational standards call for teaching children about careers, but Vidal has her own ideas on how to do that.

Her effort has helped students, Heiden said. Students who are now in high school who went to Creekside have a better understanding than their peers about what it takes to get ready for college and a career, he said.

Students who want to be engineers understand they need lots of math and science courses. A future history teacher better understands the need for in-depth history and English classes, Heiden said.

“We want the kids to begin seeing the impact of classes on their career,” he said.

Educators work to make students see that some type of secondary education is needed for most jobs, Heiden said.

College preparedness is in the curriculum, too. Students will tour college campuses and be encouraged to get any type of education beyond high school, Vidal and Heiden said.

“We want the kids to have the idea that learning doesn’t stop after high school,” Heiden said.

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