Job shadowing helps students learn more about the workforce

By Abby Morris and Kylie Fritz
Star Staff

   Many students in the Elizabethton city school system were able to get a better feel for careers they may be interested in Thursday as they participated in a Job Shadowing Program initiated by former Gov. Don Sundquist nearly a decade ago.
   Students in elementary schools in the city system as well as students from Elizabethton High School went to work with area professionals in city and county government, law enforcement offices, and many other businesses.
   The Job Shadowing Program was instated as part of the Education Edge federal grant program, according to Mary Trot, vocational director for Carter County Schools.
   Schools in the county system are scheduled to take part in the program, which has been traditionally held on Ground Hog Day but had to be rescheduled due to school closures as a result of inclement weather. An alternate day for the program has not yet been scheduled for county schools.
   Addie Hyder, vocational director for Elizabethton High School, said 200 to 300 students participate in the city schools job shadowing program each year.
   "The program enables students to experience a day in a career they might be interested in so that they have a better understanding of it and can make a more informed decision about their future," said Hyder.
   Following job shadowing day, students in the city system are usually required to write an essay describing their experience. Hyder said English teachers typically are in charge of collecting the responses.
   One glimpse at a portion of the program Thursday involved two fifth grade students from East Side Elementary and two fifth grade students from West Side Elementary who learned the ins and outs of law enforcement as part of the program.
   Students were given a tour of the Elizabethton Police Department and the Carter County Jail; they also visited the Elizabethton Fire Department, where they saw a police cruiser, met with a SWAT Team member, visited the 911 Dispatch Center, and sat in Municipal Court, according to Elonzo Perkins of the Elizabethton Police Department.
   "It's been busy, but it's been fun," Perkins said. "I guess working here I kind of take some things for granted but they get excited over the littlest things."
   According to the children, their favorite part of the experience was getting to tour the jail. "We got to try on the orange shirts," said Mary Fraley, a fifth grader at East Side Elementary School.
   Tanner Perkins and Clayton Hardin, two fifth grade students from West Side Elementary, said their favorite part of the day was getting to see the weapons room where the EPD SWAT Team stores its weapons.
   "I want to grow up to be on the SWAT Team," said Hardin. Tanner Perkins said his favorite part was seeing the SWAT Team equipment "because I got to see how they protect people."
   The students were given their own "personnel files" and helped personnel around the office of the EPD while they were there. "That man right there made us do paperwork," said Fraley as she pointed at Elonzo Perkins and laughed.