Job shadowing

Students get look at work world

Students from Heritage Middle School and Alcoa High School recently spent the day pursuing possible careers or just learning about what goes on behind the scenes in the work world.

On Feb. 2, Heritage Middle students fanned out to different businesses in the community to learn about work. This year about 240 eighth graders were placed at businesses or agencies as part of the Blount County Junior Achievement Job Shadowing program.

Marie Richardson, eighth grade language arts teacher at Heritage Middle, has been the job shadowing coordinator for several years. Karen Rice, another eighth grade language arts teacher, has been assisting in this program. Over the last seven years, the program has expanded to now include the majority of the eighth graders. More than 100 students worked their own placements out, Richardson said.

“Job shadowing is an excellent opportunity for students to receive an up-close look into the world of work. This program gives over one million students across America the ‘shadow’ experience of a mentor as he or she goes through a normal day on the job,” Richardson said. “As a result, young people are able to see how skills learned in school relate to the place of work.”

Other than all the businesses where students placed themselves, buses from Heritage Middle had very busy routes to participating agencies and businesses. These included Blount Highway Safety, Emergency 911 Communications, Alcoa Wal-Mart, Green Bank, Accessoride, Therapy Center, Remax, Blount Discount Pharmacy, the Blount County Mayor’s Office, the District Attorney’s Office, the Daily Times, Target, Maryville Healthcare Center, Hands of Time, Blount Hearing and Speech, Airport, Gallaher & Associates, and AESSEAL, inc. and City of Maryville Water Control.

Richardson said the only drawback to the day was inclement weather that shortened the school day for the students. “We had snow,” she said. “That was the day we let out of school early. It was great, but the businesses were so disappointed we didn’t have longer to stay. We still had some time with all our businesses and enjoyed our day very, very much.”

Richardson said the experience gives students a first-hand look and knowledge of what it’s like to be an employee. “It’s such a close-up look,” she said. “It’s the only real opportunity I know for this aged student to explore the job market where students actually go into the businesses and behind the scenes.”

At Alcoa Police Department, students from Alcoa High School visited the department on Feb. 18, and learned more about the different aspects of law enforcement.

Students toured the facility and spoke with detectives, K-9 officers, patrol, records management, community policing and administration, to name a few. The students also enjoyed lunch with officers from the department.

“It went really, really well. We had 11 students from Alcoa High School,” said Community Policing Coordinator Holly Hatcher.

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