6th graders interview for jobs
Ask Waynesville R-VI sixth graders what they want to be when they grow up and their answers may surprise you – pediatrician, scientist, soldier, attorney, restaurant chef, teacher, photographer, etc. That’s because these 11- and 12-year-olds are already researching career fields, preparing resumes, practicing their communication skills and receiving tips on how to remain calm and focused throughout an interview.
So, why all this focus on a career path for 11- and 12-year-old kids?
“It’s important that students begin learning about the career options available at an early age so that they can pursue a particular career path. Even if students aren’t aware of what they would like to do as a career, we do know that the core of career preparation is being able to communicate effectively, both orally and written,” said Marsha Smith, principal of the Waynesville Sixth Grade Center. “Rather than talking about their career options, we let the students discover for themselves what careers interest them and what requirements are needed.”
Students at the 6th Grade Center primarily learn by solving real-world problems. This inquiry learning approach allows students to be creative and innovative in their thinking. The teachers work hard to ensure that the learning is as authentic as possible. This is why they wanted the students to have the opportunity to be interviewed by high-caliber community leaders who have had lots of experience in interviewing potential candidates.
Of the 400+ students in Waynesville’s Sixth Grade Center who researched careers, wrote a resume, and received feedback, 88 advanced to the mock interview stage on Thursday where they faced 15 community, business and industry leaders in a wide range of careers and career fields, including banking, military, law, photography, restaurant management, teaching, conservation, computer science, the medical field and engineering. Teachers followed a rubric to decide which students would advance to the community interview session.
Setting across a desk from an adult can be a bit intimidating, but the students were well prepared, so much so, that many of the interviewers are repeat participants.
“Participating in these interviews is the best part about being a school board member,” said Mike Keeling, who has been on the Waynesville School Board for 18 years. “We (referring to fellow board member Lisa Schwandt and himself) see first-hand how well-prepared and diligent our students are. They impress us with their knowledge, research, composure and ability to answer questions effectively.”
Brig. Gen. Kevin Vereen, U.S. Army Military Police School commandant, and Col. Tracy Lanier, Fort Leonard Wood Garrison commander, were among the interviewers.
“This program is developing leaders at an early age by teaching students to think critically and from a global perspective,” Lanier said.
Following the one-on-one interview, each interviewer provided specific feedback to the student. After all of the interviews were completed, the interviewers scored the interviewees according to a rubric. Sixteen of the students interviewed will be participating in a business etiquette luncheon in March at Waynesville Career Center.
“Like all of our teachers and staff, these community leaders want our students to succeed and become our nation’s future leaders. With these types of experiences, it will happen! It takes a village. We are fortunate to live in a community where our leaders are willing to take time out of their valuable work schedules to assist us in this important work,” says, Mrs. Smith.
Those conducting the interviews included Gen. Kevin Vereen, commandant of the U.S. Army Military Police School; Col. Tracy Lanier, Fort Leonard Wood Garrison Commander; Dan Grieser, JAG attorney; Mike Dunbar, Security Bank; Mike Keeling, retired engineer and Waynesville R-VI Board of Education; Waynesville Mayor Luge Hardman; Aaron Pondrom, protection district supervisor of the Missouri Department of Conservation; Matt Sanders, owner of Matt’s Steakhouse; Brianna Bianco, Miss Teen USA candidate; Chris Landis, owner of Colton’s; Lisa Schwandt, retired teacher, administrator and Waynesville R-VI Board of Education; Mike Niess, Culver’s general manager; Rachel King, owner of The King’s Photography; Shelly Wong, coordinator of the Waynesville Career Center’s practical nursing program; and Dr. Katrina Ward, Missouri University of Science and Technology computer science.