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Career Ready Day Exposes Students to Real-World Options



*Thank you to Enumclaw Schools Foundation for the article.

Career Ready Day Josie Ambur listened intently to Black Diamond Police Chief Jamey Kiblinger as she talked about joining an Explorers program, looking into a police ride-along and staying in peak physical condition – all things the Thunder Mountain Middle School eighth-grade student can do now to prepare for a career in law enforcement.

“I thought it was really fun. It was really interesting,” said Ambur, who along with her Enumclaw School District eighth grade classmates participated in Career Ready Day Feb. 16. “I’ve always wanted to go into law so it was good to learn about that.” Ambur also attended sessions focused on careers in the military and firefighting.

Sponsored by the Enumclaw Schools Foundation, Career Ready Day brought business and industry representatives to the school district’s eighth-grade students at the two middle schools. Students attended three, 30-minute sessions in fields like law enforcement, fire prevention, manufacturing, video production, veterinary, physical therapy and military. By the end of the day, the booklets each student carried were brimming with thoughts, observations and notes.

“It makes you think more about your future,” said Enumclaw Middle School student Jasmine Reyes, who was impressed with Dr. Amy Pohlemus from Country Animal Hospital. “Dr. Amy” brought along a dog and explained a typical day at her Enumclaw practice, and how to find out more information about a career in veterinary.

Pohlemus said she answered a lot of questions. “Everybody thinks I just play with puppies and kittens all day,” she said. “It’s fun to see them get excited. For those few kids who really want to become a veterinarian I want them to feel encouraged and inspired. When I was their age that’s when I wanted to become a veterinarian.”

“It’s never too young,” Kiblinger said. “The decisions you make now, even as eighth-graders impact you forever; so it’s never too young.”

EHS Career Center Specialist Kim Sales echoed her words. “The earlier that we can get them thinking about what they want to do makes my job at the high school a little bit easier to guide them in the careers they might choose,” Sales said. The key is exposing them to a variety of careers in disciplines they may never have considered. “I think we’ve done that today with all our speakers. I’ve seen the kids really respond in thinking about their futures,” she said. “I hope they’ll walk away with a sense they can do, or can be, anything they want to. They’ll be able to go into high school with a better idea of what classes they want to take and what direction they want to go after high school.”

EMS Principal Steve Rabb, the driving force behind Career Day Ready, emphasized eighth-grade is not the end of middle school, but the beginning and transition to high school. “The things you are doing in your eighth-grade year are setting the pattern for the kind of student you will be at the high school,” he said.

“We believe that eighth-grade is the right time for students to begin envisioning a positive and productive future as they plan for high school and beyond,” Enumclaw Schools Foundation Board Member Johna Thomson said.

The program also builds relationships with the community and exposes the students to resources in their own back yard. For example, Corey Cassell, a numerical control programmer with The Boeing Co., talked to students about apprenticeships and programs offered at EHS.

To kick off the program this year, the Enumclaw Schools Foundation covered the cost of lunch for speakers and guests, and brought in keynote, motivational speaker Dwight Johnson. Johnson is an Enumclaw resident and father of seven Enumclaw High graduates. He spent 42 years installing and designing glass for the world’s most prominent high rises until a series of devastating accidents took both his legs. Unwilling to spend life in a wheelchair, Johnson spent three years getting on his feet. He now walks on prosthetics, golfs and surfs. Put off by people staring at his missing limbs, he turned his dormant artistic talents to painting shoes that draw attention to his shoes rather than his artificial legs. He uses his business, Soule Innovations, to help others achieve the same success.

“Take what you learn here and pursue your dreams,” he told students. “It’s important to chase your dreams, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something.”

In addition to Cassell, Kiblinger and Pohlemus, speakers included: Dennis Eldridge, Aspire Physical Therapy; Michael Rabb, AM Studios and Beau Chevassus, Knok Studio; Maryn Otto, Enumclaw Fire Department; and Sgt. Brandon Wishard, Marine Corps, and Thunder Mountain Principal Steve Stoker, who stepped in to talk about his time in the Army.

“I thought today was an incredible opportunity because we learned so many things. I hope they do it again next year,” Reyes said.

Check out Knox Studio's video of the event below: