Nederland, Texas is a small town mid-way between Beaumont and Port Arthur, down on the Texas coast. This is a column I wrote for local papers.
Good Job, Nederland Rotary
I had an enjoyable morning last Tuesday. Not only was the sun shining brightly, but there was not a single cloud in the sky. And I was looking forward to visiting with a group of Nederland eighth graders.
The previous week, I had agreed to be one of the guests for Nederland Rotary’s Annual Career Day for Nederland eighth graders at the Montagne Center.
Having spent around ten years in the English classroom and the next thirty or so in Career and Technology Education at Port Neches-Groves ISD, I was no stranger to Career Days. For years, we held them at the Christian Church down on Ninth Avenue. Those Mid-County Rotary guys did a bang up job. I don’t know if my old district still has them or not, but if they don’t they should.
Youngsters don’t learn about different career fields by osmosis, although I have run into more than one individual who seemed to believe that was the way for them to learn, that time away from school to listen to people talk about jobs was a waste of time.
I’ll say this about Nederland Rotary. They did a superb job, and they are to be complimented for the work and effort that went into the planning and carrying out of such a prodigious event.
One of the reasons I believe Career Day is so exceptional is because it gives students an opportunity to listen to and question experts in three or four career fields in which the young person has interest.
Nederland’s Career Day offered around fifteen broad occupational areas with eighty or so specific occupations. A big logistical job, but they pulled it off in spades.
Bright-eyed and alert, students expressed keen interest in the various breakout sessions, peppering the speakers with questions, some perceptive, some humorous, but all enlightening.
I was in the Art, Audio/Video Tech & Communications. In my group were an artist, photographer, meteorologist, radio/tv, advertising, and editor/writer/reporter.
The photographer was from Nederland, and she spent several minutes giving the youngsters an excellent overview of the various types of photography and how they could prepare for the occupation.
The gentleman from the advertising agency provided students a clear picture of his business, what it entailed, the number of different skills the business demanded.
The meteorologist did an excellent job. We’ve all seen him on Channel 6, James Brown. He instantly captivated the students with his humor and pertinent information regarding his field. The kids loved him.
Luckily, I made my short presentation before him. He’s a hard act to follow.
One important fact all speakers covered however was that upon graduation from high school, a young person’s education is not over.
Whether he goes on to college or the military or to work in a craft, he has to learn the mechanics of the career he’s chosen. And in this age of exploding technology, learning is never over.
Unfortunately, many school districts insist its counselors guide students toward college. Some districts don’t even have interests inventories to suggest to students their strengths and weaknesses. When asked how they guided students into fields of interest, one counselor blithely stated, “We ask them.” When further asked about interest inventories, the counselor dismissed the measure with the same indifference. “Why? We ask them.”
You might be puzzled at such indifference, but when you realized that the higher percentage of seniors entering college is a plus for the district, you can understand (but not agree) why.
Another reason I was so impressed with the program developed by Nederland Rotary and Nederland ISD was they recognized that not all graduates are cut out for college. In fact, do some checking, and you will discover almost two-thirds of jobs in Southeast Texas, the country for that matter, do not require a college education.
Having said that, I hasten to add that those who pursue the majority of those fields and seek additional education in the way of certifications, associate degrees, or degrees will find their income rises accordingly.
Education is wealth.
We have an obligation to provide our children with essential information to make sound career choices. Anything less is shameful.
I’m sure there are many other districts like Nederland who have their act together. And those that don’t, should.