By Elizabeth Richards - Windham Middle School Principal Drew Patin and the parent advisory group at the school are hoping to offer a unique experience to eighth graders on national “Take our Sons and Daughters to Work Day.” The goal for Thursday, April 28th, is to give every eighth grader in the school a work day experience in the community.
The idea spun off from discussion around the idea of a “parent exchange” day, where children trade places with their parent for a day, going to their place of employment while the parent attends their classes. Though an exchange isn’t practical for a number of reasons, the group came up with the work day experience as an alternative.
While a student could still go with their own parent to work that day, the hope is that another option will be available. If attending with a parent isn’t possible due to the nature of the job, or the student isn’t interested in that particular career, they could be matched with another work placement for the day.
With approximately 200 eighth graders in the school, this is no easy task. The school is working to find companies who will allow a small group of students, along with a teacher or staff member, to spend a day at their place of business.
Letters have been sent out to local employers, and some have already committed to the program. The Coast Guard in South Portland, for instance, has agreed to accommodate a large group, walking students through the wide range of jobs people have there.
“We are trying to put it together so that on that particular day, every single eighth grader is involved in some sort of job they might be interested in, or at a company that they might be interested in working at,” said Patin.
Part of the experience can include putting students to work, as long as it is safe and doesn’t require special training, said Patin. The main goal is to allow students a chance to learn about what different jobs exist and what degree and/or skills they would need to have that job. After the experience, students will reflect on what they enjoyed, what they didn’t like, and whether the experience made them more or less interested in a particular career.
The experience would be a valuable way to both get students connected to the community, and may help guide them as they head to high school, Patin said. Having a chance to explore some job possibilities would potentially shape some of the choices they make in terms of electives and other opportunities that arise, he said.