Students in Lauren Peel’s 8th grade language arts classes at Eisenhower Middle School have been giving some serious thought to their futures. They’ve spent time researching colleges and careers, and have been learning new skills that will prepare them for life after high school.
However, a crucial skill they’ve been working on is one that many
students will need in just the next couple of years: finding a job. Peel
tasked them with visiting an area business and requesting a job
application. In class, they worked on filling out their applications and
creating resumes. And last Friday, after weeks of learning and
planning, the students got to participate in mock job interviews.
Ms. Peel arranged to have several community members conduct the
interviews so the kids could see what might be asked of them in that
situation. After their interviews, the students received feedback about
ways in which they excelled and areas they could improve on.
Sunseer Bland said the unit has given him tools to become successful in
the future, such as working hard and always being prepared. He hopes
these skills help him make into the NFL, or at least to his back-up
plan: joining the police department. “This taught me that I have to get
my mind right, and that if I work hard to do something, I can accomplish
it,” Sunseer said.
The community members who volunteered their time
for this project shared some words of wisdom with the students. Rod
Spangler, National Director of Technology for American Fidelity
Insurance, recommended making a positive first impression. “The first
twenty to thirty seconds is so important. First impression is
everything, so offer a strong hand shake and make eye contact.”
Elementary’s Community Liason, Timothy Smith, encourages students to
continually improve themselves. “(They should) continue to expand their
knowledge, read as much as they can, learn as much as they can about
people who are different than themselves…and always be on time.”
Sheila Thompkins, General Manager for Jason’s Deli, said there are many
factors that trump work experience. “We look for personality,
punctuality and a professional appearance. We also look for people who
can work as part of a team.”
After the interviews, both John Bowman
and Hannah Wilson, students in Peel’s class, said the most challenging
question they answered regarded their own weaknesses. However, they both
enjoyed the process and feel better about their interview skills.
Bowman said, “I enjoyed it because I can learn from it, and when I go on
interviews now, I’ll get it right.” Wilson agreed, saying, “Now I know
what to say and what not to say.”
Ms. Peel’s lesson is a perfect
example of the wonderful opportunities available to students in Topeka
Public Schools. Thank you, Ms. Peel, for your hard work preparing for
the day’s events, and to the community members who donated their time to
our students! Dedicated teachers, engaged community members and
future-focused students help make Topeka Public Schools a great place to
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