SPRINGFIELD TWP.  Third graders at Spring Hill and Young Elementary Schools were recently excited to get a look of just what their futures might hold.

Portage Lakes Career Center (PLCC) students visited both schools Feb. 27 and brought their equipment with them to show the elementary students what the “big kids” learn at PLCC.

Schools in Ohio are required to provide programs for elementary students at each grade level to help prepare them for what careers are available. Lisa Tripney, director of career technical education and job placement coordinator at PLCC, said Career Connections is the program through the Ohio Department of Education.

“There is a mandate that each year, from grades kindergarten to 12 you must do something for career exploration,” she said.

The state gives ideas of what schools can to add to their curriculum.

Prior to the PLCC students coming to school, the third graders took a career interest inventory to see what they have an interest in. By their answers, they were scheduled to visit three stations PLCC students had set up. The high school students spoke with the younger kids telling them what they do in the class and demonstrated it in a variety of ways. Students had the opportunity to drill screws into wood with the building trades class, take a crack at measuring flour with the culinary arts group, take care of a baby with the pre-nursing students and learn about flowers with members of the Envirioscape program, as well as many other activities.

Young Elementary Principal Jenny Ganzer said she was really excited when PLCC officials reached out to her and asked if the school would partner with them for this event.

“I knew that our third-grade students would be thrilled to have the older students come in and share what they are learning that is preparing them for their future careers," Ganzer said.

She thought the best part of the whole process was that they introduced the students to interest surveys to help them narrow down some jobs that might meet their individual interests.

“I have always believed that young adults need to 'turn their passion into their paycheck' and interest surveys are a great way to lead students in the right direction to accomplish this," Ganzer said.

PLCC Community Relations Director Krista Haubert said the school thought it would be a neat idea to start exposing younger grade kids to careers and career tech.

“We worked with the staff at the two schools providing them with exploration activities they could do with their students," Haubert said.

She said they wanted the little ones to see older kids learning about careers.

“We brought some of our student ambassadors here to talk with the kids," Haubert said, adding that almost every program offered at the career center was represented. “It was an excellent opportunity for us to ignite career awareness within these young learners as well as promote the programs we offer here at PLCC. We felt that an important part of the experience was giving the students the opportunity to touch, feel, try out, wear the gear, tools and manipulatives used in our programs so the kids all had an opportunity to be engage."

The third graders were very involved and attentive with the students from PLCC, and the older students had a good time teaching the younger kids.

Haubert said the kids were cute, “in one of the sessions (The Enterprising session with VDI and Culinary) a few of the kids took the boom mic and a camera from VDI and were pretending with the other kids who were dressed up in chef clothes that they were making a cooking show.”

This is the first time PLCC has done something like this, but it also hosted Coventry students for Career, Tech and Treat in October where the young students did trick or treating in the building.

“It was nice because they could see students in their environment learning,” said Haubert. 

Spring Hill Principal Dave Jurmanovich said other things they do for the younger children in kindergarten and first grade is talk about careers and ask them what they want to be when they grow up.

He said having the career tech kids at the school is such a great opportunity. It gives the students a chance to see how the career world is and even something to look forward to in high school.

“It shows them what they are sitting here for, to be a part if the work force and productive members of society," Jurmanovich said.