Students glimpse future at North Tahoe ‘Career Day’ | SierraSun.com

Students glimpse future at North Tahoe ‘Career Day’

Andrew Cristancho
Sierra Sun

Two FBI agents descended on North Tahoe Middle School last Friday.

They were accompanied by 16 other local professionals that came for Career Day to speak with students about the possibilities for their future.

The second annual of its kind, “Totally Unique Career Day,” is part of a grant-funded program coordinated by the school’s Internal Asset Coach Emily Headley and School Board Trustee Bev Ducey.

The program called “No Limits to My Future” is funded by Senate Bill 70 money that is intended to improve career technical educational opportunities and the linkages between the career and technical curriculums of the public schools and community colleges, according to the California Department of Education Web site.

Many career days have professionals in a big room behind tables, Headley said, but last week’s event was unique in part because of the personal interaction with local professionals.

The FBI agents handed out bullet-proof vests and badges, while a fashion designer helped students brainstorm how to make an evening gown.

Another innovative aspect to the event was the students were involved in deciding which professionals came to school, Headley said.

“We survey the students in advance to obtain a list of professions that they’re interested in,” she said. “Then we decide who to invite as presenters, and schedule the students to attend presentations that match their stated interests.”

“We are giving the kids the knowledge about what careers that are out there,” said one student host for the event Heidi Jimenz.

Jimenz and six of her peers are participants in Career Cruising, an elective class added to the middle school’s curriculum this year, according to Principal Teresa Rensch.

The career class students organized many aspects of the planning for the event including the catering, Headley said.

The career class students organized many aspects of the planning for the event including the catering, Headley said.

Besides the South Lake Tahoe-based FBI agents and Tahoe City-based fashion designer, the guest list included a scientific researcher, Web site developer, photographer and wood worker among others. But the No. 1 profession picked by middle schoolers was chef, Jimenz said.

“There are a lot of chef shows [on television],” explained Moody’s chef and co-owner Mark Estee. “[These days] being a chef is like being a rock star.”

In a middle school classroom, Douglas Dale, owner and chef of Wolfdales, encouraged students surrounding his presentation table to taste eight different kinds of salt; some red, some black, some coarse, some fine. He asked the crowd of students why they might use a finer-grained table salt over some of the coarser varieties he brought.

A student said tentatively, “Because it will dissolve faster?”

Dale became visibly excited as he explained “Yes, if I’m in a rush cooking, I don’t have time to wait for salt.”

Local school officials have received three Senate Bill 70 grants recently.

$150,000 for North Tahoe Middle School’s career exploration program.

$250,000 for Sierra College’s Mechatronics program.

$100,000 for a technical drawing program for North Tahoe High School.