Skip to main content

Holly Park Academy Middle School Career Day Sparks Students’ Interests

Holly Park Academy recently held a successful first career fair for its 130 middle school scholars. Organizers, Dean of Middle School Lewis Hoffman and Achievement Behavioral Support Specialist Richard Allen, arranged to have eight professionals divide into three groups to present and rotate through a classroom of sixth, seventh, and eighth graders.
 
The professional groups spent 30 minutes talking with each grade level about their educational background, the type of work they do, and what they enjoy about it.
 Lansing Charter career day
Lauren Enty, social worker, Michigan State University Crisis Center, and Desmond Ferguson, president, Moneyball Sportswear and retired professional basketball player, enjoyed talking with the students.

The speakers were: Paola Bacigalupo Sanguesa, educator, Michigan State University Extension; Taylor Bass, community relations and brand specialist, Granger Waste Services; Faith Cullens-Nobis, director, Michigan State University South Campus Animal Farms; Lauren Enty, social worker, Michigan State University Crisis Center; Desmond Ferguson, president, Moneyball Sportswear and retired professional basketball player; Brian Jackson, lawyer, public defender in Ingham County and also city council member for fourth ward; Barb McBride, veterinarian, Animal Emergency Center; and Tiffany Shelton, lawyer, public defender in Ingham County, and a parent of a scholar.
 
“One of my favorite parts of my job is educating the youth on what Granger does,” Bass said. “Most people put their trash at the end of the driveway and never think twice about what happens afterward. Middle school is a fun age to talk to about this topic because they are curious and engaged. The students were polite, filled with questions, and good listeners.”
 
Hoffman and Allen had the students do some work to prepare for the career fair. The scholars took an online interest survey to explore careers based on their personality and passions, then they could learn about career possibilities and education needed. Scholars had to complete a writing prompt about the type of profession they are interested in, and choose from a list of prepared questions to ask the presenters.
 Lansing Charter career day
Tiffany Shelton and Brian Jackson are both lawyers and work together as public defenders in Ingham County. Jackson is also a city council member for the fourth ward and Shelton is a parent of a scholar.

“I thought our students did an excellent job using those questions as gateway questions because it’s kind of like once they would ask the question that they had already prepared, that started prompting them to discovering and creating new ideas and asking new questions,” Allen said. “It was just excellent to see how the students’ interaction evolved from the first presentation to the last.”
 
The Career Day presentations gave Hoffman and Allen ideas for expanding on the generosity of the speakers.
 
“There were a lot of personal connections made between the students and speakers,” Hoffman said. “Several encouraged the students to reach out to them if they wanted to, others offered to come back to present in more detail. Lawyer Brian Jackson offered to present a seminar to eighth-grade students, titled ‘Know Your Rights.’
 
Lansing Charter career dayPaola Bacigalupo Sanguesa, right, speaks to the scholars about her education background.

“It was also good for the students to see really talented professionals living and working amongst them, doing excellent things.”
 
Students really enjoyed meeting and hearing about the professionals’ backgrounds.
 
“I thought it was cool because I saw many future opportunities for a career,” eighth grader Ceasar Orozco said. “It was nice to hear about a variety of careers and options. It was interesting to hear about what it takes for their particular jobs.”
 
Bass added, “Many students asked about education and the requirements for working the different positions at Granger. Some students were surprised that you don’t necessarily need a degree to have a good-paying job at Granger. They were shocked to find out that our professional drivers start by making $24-28 per hour and only need to be 18 years old with a CDL (commercial driver’s license) to start.”
 
Allen and Hoffman also recently had the opportunity to take the eighth graders to Michigan State University to tour the campus.
 Lansing Charter career dayThe presenters laugh with the students while answering questions.

“About the 60% of them had never stepped foot on the campus,” Allen said. “It is just being able to open their eyes to the experiences they have right in front of them. Letting them see there’s a whole different world they had no idea about nearby. It is just an amazing thing in itself.”
 
Hoffman and Allen wanted to be sure to recognize Sixth- and Seventh-grade Math Teacher Shannon Nevins because she came up with the career fair idea. Allen did the majority of the planning and Hoffman filled in where needed. It’s no wonder Holly Park Academy has outperformed the local district for the past nine years with staff and students like these.

Check out a school near you!

About Holly Park Academy
Holly Park Academy is a tuition-free, public charter school in Lansing, Michigan, serving students in kindergarten through eighth grade. It is part of the National Heritage Academies network, which includes over 100 tuition-free, public charter schools serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade across nine states. For more information, visit nhaschools.com.

Visit Holly Park Academy's blog to read more stories like this.