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Smith Elementary hosts annual career day

Photos by Jeylin White: Kimberly Banks, owner of Dance-N-Motion dance studio, in Stockbridge, taught students at Roberta. T. Smith Elementary School, an 8-count Hip-Hop routine. The pupils learned the routine during the school’s annual Career Day event, held Thursday morning.

Photos by Jeylin White: Kimberly Banks, owner of Dance-N-Motion dance studio, in Stockbridge, taught students at Roberta. T. Smith Elementary School, an 8-count Hip-Hop routine. The pupils learned the routine during the school’s annual Career Day event, held Thursday morning.

For some students at Roberta T. Smith Elementary School, mathematics can be a daunting subject to master. Thursday, some called math their least-favorite subject.

“It’s just too hard to understand,” said several of them, almost in unison, at the school’s annual Career Day event. But Juarez Jackson, an engineer at Lockheed Martin, who was one of the of the many career-day presenters, declared to the students that, “Math is easy.” Then told them his mission was to change their perception about mathematics, and show them how “cool” it would be to become an engineer.

Jackson was one of 60 professionals, who shared their knowledge and what they do with the 960 pupils at the school. He said he understands that math can be a challenge for many students, and it’s a force to be reckoned with, but, in his opinion, learning math it’s not as hard as it seems.

“Math skills are [really] needed in engineering, as well as other professions,” he told the students. “Our country is falling behind as far math, science, and technology goes –– and for an engineer, math is critical.”

Jackson then shared the basics of aerodynamics with the kids, and talked about the forces that work together to make an airplane fly. He gave students an example of the principles involved. He said it is as simple as “sticking your hand out of the window, and “observing how different air pressure” would go over a wing.

“This helps to understand, from a practical aspect, because they have done this before,” Jackson explained later.

Offering a practical example was the objective behind career day, according Katrina Pittman, a school counselor at Smith Elementary. She said the event was designed to show students the importance of education, and how what they’re learning in school will be useful in their careers.

“The dream starts at a young age, and exposure at a young age allows them to have a variety of options,” said Pittman. “Often times, [students] go to school and don’t know why [they’re] going to school, at an elementary level.”

Pittman said her school has been using a career-based curriculum to prepare students for the workforce. “If we can bridge the gap of why [they’re] learning, to the actual process to do a job in the future –– is why we’re doing career-readiness, and job-readiness, as it connects to education,” she said.

Recently, State School Superintendent John Barge announced that the U.S. Department of Education had approved Georgia’s request for a waiver from the strict mandates of the No Child Left Act. He said the state will use the Georgia College Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI), instead. It will be used to measure the extent to which a school district, and the state, are successfully making progress on several accountability indicators, including content mastery, student attendance, and readiness for the next level of preparation.

Gov. Nathan Deal added that the waiver will give Georgia the flexibility needed to pursue goals for student achievement that will prepare young Georgians for higher education and the jobs of tomorrow.

Michelle Matthew, principal of Smith Elementary, agreed. She said career day is a good way for students to understand the instructional piece they have been learning in class. “We want our [students] to have a real life experience and make a connection with the academic piece,” said Matthew.

“We are also encouraging our students that their career goals go beyond high school. We encourage students to go to college and get master’s and doctoral degrees.”

Fifth-graders, J’Aunan Robinson, 10, and Timethea Slade, 10, already have their colleges and careers picked. Slade plans to attend Hampton University, in Virginia, to study medicine.

“I want to be a heart and brain surgeon,” said the youngster. “ I chose my career, because I’ll get to help people.”

Robinson wants to become an air traffic control operator. She wants to attend Embry-Riddle University, in Florida. “My brother is already an air traffic control operator –– so I kind of already knew that’s what I wanted to do.”