GMS eighth graders check out career options during annual shadowing day
By Sarah Einselen
Over a hundred eighth grade students at Galion Middle School spent Friday, Feb. 4, shadowing employees at a host of area businesses, exploring what life is like in the profession they might pursue after high school.
Some of the students are already sure of what they want to do.
“Science just seemed like it was thinking outside of the box,” said 13-year-old Cherokee Aller, who wants to become a middle-school science teacher. “I like thinking outside the box.” Cherokee shadowed Galion Intermediate School science teacher Sue Jarvis and helped her teach the class periods about sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic rocks. She decided in fifth grade that she’d like to teach science, but thinks older children would be easier to handle.
“These guys, they’re a little hyper,” she said of the intermediate students she helped teach. “By middle school they calm down and stop playing with their pencils.”
That’s about the only thing that surprised her on Friday, she said—“that they’re not always paying attention.”
Just up the road, 14-year-old Rachel Greene shadowed veterinarian Stephanie Parr at the Galion Veterinary Clinic for the day.
“I can’t remember a specific time when I decided I wanted to go be a veterinarian,” Rachel said. “I think it just gradually happened.” She grew up with pets at home. Her parents, both college grads, have encouraged her to go to college after high school, too.
Rachel considered a career in music at one point, “but the more I thought about it the more I realized that might not work.”
Parr, who opened her office in Galion in 2007, has hosted a middle-school shadower since 2008.
“The nature of veterinary medicine is very much a teaching profession,” Parr said. “I just enjoy getting to share the profession.” She hosts about three students per year, either from the middle school, the high school or from area colleges. “It allows someone who thinks they want to go into this field to see the good and the bad,” she said.
“I’ve gotten to see what’s wrong with the animal and what medications are needed,” Rachel said. She witnessed appointments and surgeries during her shadowing experience, but didn’t run into many surprises. “It’s kind of what I expected it to be,” she said.
That isn’t always the case.
“In the 24 years that I have been organizing Shadowing Day, many students have returned both excited and disappointed,” said middle school guidance counselor Joylyn Finch. “Either way it’s a good experience because they gain valuable information for planning course work for high school and beyond.”
Students were assigned a report in English recapping their shadowing experience. The eighth-graders at GMS have already taken two career interest surveys, Finch said, to help them start thinking about what might be the right career track for them.
The school provides a class called 21st Century Skills dealing mainly with college and career readiness, too. Finch has also visited other eighth grade classes several times this year to talk about careers.
“For the most part, I believe that most eighth graders have an idea about what they might want to do, as an adult, but they have no idea what type of education or training is necessary,” she said. “This is why job shadowing can be a great experience for the students.”
Rachel’s one student who followed through on researching her intended career path.
“I’m thinking maybe I’ll get my Bachelor’s first and then try to apply to a veterinary school,” she said. Much of what she’s read has said a student has to get good grades both in high school and college to be accepted into a vet school.
“I have to be prepared for a lot of hard work if I want to get into veterinary school,” said Rachel. “I can’t just slack off.”
The shadowing day was the last career activity before ninth grade class scheduling.