Students learn hands on about area careers

Councilman-at-Large Vincent DeSantis teaches students from Boulevard Elementary School about Gloversville’s history while they visit the city’s downtown during Fifth-Grade Career Day on Wednesday. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

GLOVERSVILLE—For the second year, Boulevard Elementary School brought students to various businesses and city buildings downtown for Fifth-Grade Career Day.

School Counselor Susan Grossi explained that the idea to bring students to career day came about last year as a way to teach students about potential professions and their city while breathing new life into the standard fare.

“We were looking for other ways to do career exploration,” Grossi said June 12. “[Principal Thomas] Komp came up with the idea of a walking tour. Instead of having the businesses have to take a whole day off, it would be better for us to go to the businesses and then we would see them in their natural working environment as well.”

Grossi worked with Councilman-at-Large Vincent DeSantis to organize this year’s downtown career day that saw nine groups of about 23 students each visiting 12 businesses and city institutions on Wednesday.

“Not only will they be learning about a broad range of jobs, but they will also be learning about how these jobs contribute to building a strong sense of community,” Grossi said.

She also worked with city police to plan a safe walking route for students to follow and one officer spent the morning helping groups of students, teachers and chaperones cross North Main Street during the tour.

“It really was quite a collaborative effort between many people, not only businesses, police and City Hall,” Grossi said. “There’s more of a sense of community pride and a sense of community cohesion where you have the school and the community working together.”

Instilling a sense of community was another goal of the career day field trip, while students were asked to think about future career interests, they were also asked to think about the city they live in and how they would like it to be in the future.

“We’re trying to develop a strong sense of community so we’re using our downtown area to explore jobs and talking about revitalization efforts and what would they like their city to look like,” Grossi said. “The downtown is going to become their downtown when they get older.”

To prepare for career day students were visited by Downtown Development Specialist Jennifer Jennings who talked to students about her role working with the city on ongoing downtown revitalization initiatives.

After career day Grossi said students would be asked to write about their own future vision for the city, what would need to be done and what job they would need to have in order to make their vision a reality.

Fifth-grade teacher Donna McGrath said the new format for career day is an improvement over the old setup in the school gym and is a great way for students to learn firsthand about the city and local opportunities.

“They need to be exposed to what’s in their community and learn what are some possibilities for their future that Gloversville has to offer,” McGrath said Wednesday. “I just think it’s a wonderful experience for them, it’s important that they know about their community.”

Students visited a wide variety of businesses and institutions including the police station, fire department, City Hall, the Fulton County Ambulance Service, Mohawk Harvest Cooperative Market, the Glove Theatre, the Regional Chamber of Commerce, Twin City Twisters, Fulton County Barbershop, the city water department and the Farmers Market Pavilion where an admissions counselor for Fulton Montgomery County Community College was stationed.

The career day visits offered a number of the students their first introduction to the city establishments like the theater, the co-op and FMCC.

“Some of them have said they have visited some of these places, many of them had not been to several of the places we’ve been to,” McGrath said.

Students also learned new details about professions associated with locations they had visited in the past, as they did while on a tour of the police department.

“It’s been a busy night and busy morning,” Chief Marc Porter said Wednesday. “The thing about our job is you never know what the next radio call is going to be, the next phone call is going to be, that’s what keeps it interesting.”

Porter said there had been arrests the night before with individuals still being held, meaning the group would be unable to visit the rear of the station. A number of officers were out of the station that morning responding to East Fulton Street where a tractor trailer was leaking fuel.

Porter noted that officers only spend about 10 to 20 percent of their time making arrests, but whatever their task police must always be available to respond.

“We’re open 24 hours a day every single day. We don’t ever close, we’re always here, there’s always someone on duty,” Porter said. “We don’t shut down for weekends, holidays, bad weather. That’s another dynamic of our job that makes it very interesting but it also makes it very demanding.”

While at the fire department students again found the crew was busy dealing with the fuel leak in the city in a profession where someone must always be ready to respond.

“I’m actually off duty today, they called us in to help out because we had nobody left in the station because everybody is up there,” firefighter Robert Norris said while showing the students around and explaining why there was only one truck in the garage.

Students also talked about how to pursue professions they might be interested in with FMCC Admissions Counselor Dan Fogarty.

Fogarty asked students what they would like to do, receiving a variety of responses including play football, teach, dance, study marine biology, design video games, cook, become a doctor and design fashion.

“The nice thing is you all have ideas of what you might want to get into in the future, so your goal now is to listen to your teachers, listen to your counselors, let them help and guide you,” Fogarty said.

Fogarty assured the student that they had plenty of time to think about what they may want to do and suggested that they visit other professionals in the fields they may want to pursue.

“Start to think about what you’d like to do and find people that already do that that way you can see if you really like it,” Fogarty said.

Overall the students seemed to enjoy the tour and thinking about future possibilities.

“I like that we get to explore all the businesses and talk with them and see what they do and that can give us information about the future,” said fifth-grader Amy Billa on Wednesday.

“I like how they let us tour all the buildings and that we can see what it’s like,” fifth-grader Autumn Ryan added.

Billa and Ryan both said they had already been thinking about careers, respectively talking about teaching and working at High Rollers in Amsterdam, but the tour gave them some new options to consider.

“I want to be a teacher, but after visiting the fire department maybe I want to work there,” Billa said. “I think it’s kind of cool, plus I would want to save a lot of people’s lives.”

Ryan said she was also thinking about police or ambulance service after the first few stops on the tour.

According to their teacher this kind of exposure to new ideas within the city is exactly what the tour was intended for.

“I don’t think they’ve made up their minds as to what they want to do, but it helps plant a seed,” McGrath said.

By Josh Bovee

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