On April 27, Maine Department of Education (DOE) hosted 18 students who came to work with DOE staff as part of Take our Sons and Daughters to Work day. Ranging in age from 8 to 17, the students spent the day learning about working in public service at the Capitol and participated in activities throughout the day including interviews with DOE staff, up-close experience seeing some of the work at DOE, and a special tour of the State House with a behind-the-scenes look at how the legislature functions.
Maine DOE’s structure for the day was aligned to the State’s Career and Education Development Standards, part of the system of student outcomes in the Maine Learning Results. The day began by communicating self-knowledge and practicing interpersonal skills, followed by learning about the work done in a government agency, understanding the knowledge and skills necessary to do the work, and exploring the various education and work backgrounds that support the development of these skills.
At the beginning of the day, students were asked to introduce themselves with an acrostic that included words which represent their strengths, character traits, and interests.
One student described himself as joyful, outgoing, skateboarding, helpful, unpredictable, and adventurous. Throughout the day, participants learned about the traits needed to do the work they observed and about the people doing the various jobs. At the end of the day, they were able to reflect on their own interests and skills to determine how they matched with those they observed. This particular student reflected that an attitude of helpfulness was apparent in all the work he observed and being outgoing is an important strength.
Another student who was particularly interested in working with refugees who have been the victims of violence interviewed Jay Ketner, World Languages Specialist, about the role of language development relative to her career aspirations.
Ketner found that like most of us leaving high school, the student had ideas about college majors and future career possibilities without being definitively decided and fixed. However, she clearly conveyed how much it meant to her to be working with immigrant and refugee groups, and wanted to learn more about how language and cultural study could equip her for such work.
“As a former interpreter for refugees and immigrants seeking asylum, I was able to show her a whole world of language applications in school, study abroad, the workplace, and our changing communities. Opening students’ eyes to new realities and possibilities for the transfer of their learning is what education is all about,” Ketner stated after spending some time with the student.
Another student interviewed Jennifer Tarr, Maine DOE Director of Special Projects and Senator Shenna Bellows, representative to District 14: Chelsea, Farmingdale, Gardiner, Hallowell, Manchester, Monmouth, Pittston, Randolph, Readfield, West Gardiner, and Winthrop.
Of the experience, the student said, “As a teen who’s undecided about what they want to do after high school, this experience has really opened my eyes about possible opportunities and job paths I could take.”
Students also had the opportunity to sit down with Maine Department of Education Commissioner Robert Hasson and Deputy Commissioner Suzan Beaudoin to ask questions about their jobs and the Department.
Eager to find out more, students asked various questions: What is the hardest part of your job? What is the easiest part of your job? Do you love your job? How long have you worked here?
One of the biggest highlights of the day was an “insider’s” tour of the State House led by Aaron Chadbourne, Senior Policy Advisor to the Governor. The group sat in legislative seats, learned about all the work that goes on behind the scenes including what is done in the Reviser’s Office, by the legislative office and by the Secretary of the Senate. What was clear at the end of the tour was that it takes many people in supportive roles to make it all work.
Reflecting on the day, many were pleasantly surprised and inspired by how excited and passionate people were about what they do as they explained the importance of their jobs and expressed a deep concern for and commitment to Maine’s youth.