A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Russell Cave students ‘Touch a Vehicle’ for an interactive Career Day with community professionals

By Tammy Lane
Fayette County Schools

The fire truck, ambulance, police car, and news crew created quite a stir outside Russell Cave Elementary, but the excitement was all in fun as students and staff welcomed more than a dozen community professionals for the school’s “Touch a Vehicle” Career Day.

“They’re still trying to figure out what ‘career’ means. It’s hard for them to understand at a younger age,” said organizer Amber Cron, the child guidance specialist and Title I lead teacher.

“We explore options. I take them down the different paths of trade schools, four-year degrees, doctoral programs, and such. This gives students a little more hands-on approach to different careers. And if college isn’t for them, what are other educational paths?”

Each of the guests took a few moments to share about their job or profession as classes rotated through the parking lot. Larry Carrier, who works with Lexington’s Division of Streets & Roads, had brought a backhoe for demonstrations.

“We have to dig up a broken pipe or load our trucks with dirt,” he explained to the children. Carrier thought having vehicles on site was of great value for students and Lexington, saying, “It might inspire somebody. It’s hard to find people interested in this, and we need new blood.”

City employees also parked a street sweeper, a dump truck, a snow plow, and a knuckle boom truck, which picks up fallen trees and large debris. The latter was a favorite of 9-year-old Luis Anicasio Miranda, who even got to maneuver the bucket. He also deemed the event a big success.

“We’ve been learning about careers so we can choose what we want to do when we grow up,” Luis said.

In addition to describing their jobs, the visitors talked about what kind of education and personal skills are required as well as the salary ranges. They also fielded questions from eager youngsters. Afterward, students would reflect on the day through writing activities with age-appropriate prompts like “Why do people work?”

Midway through the rotations, third-grade teacher Emily Banks was pleased with her students’ response.

“The kids are very engaged, and it’s good real-world experience,” she said. “It helps them understand there’s different kinds of jobs and different avenues for them.”

Fayette County Public Schools emphasizes college and career readiness, and most schools host a Career Day or similar event each year.

At the elementary level, this type of outdoor fair is gaining in popularity.

After children meet people from a range of fields and industries, they begin to pair the equipment with the job and identify them out in their community.

Russell Cave, for instance, brought in several city work vehicles plus a Red State BBQ food truck, a Kentucky Utilities truck, and engineers from Bullard, who showed off safety helmets and personal air-filtering systems.

“We’re trying to give little kids an idea of how our jobs work,” said WKYT reporter Kristen Kennedy, who set out cameras and microphones for students to handle. “We don’t want them to think we aren’t real. I want them to realize this (career) is a possibility.”

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