This school year, eighth-grader students in the FSDB Blind Middle School have been privy to a special class period devoted exclusively to career exploration. Edith "DD" Stein teaches social studies in Blind Middle School, and she realized, in her words, "the best way to introduce students to careers is to invite real people who do those jobs, to come and talk to the kids about their real-world experiences."
The overarching goal of the series is for students to explore different career clusters, so they learn about both technical education opportunities and academic careers that require a college degree. To this end, Stein has invited an array of speakers to discuss their careers and employment aspects, such as salaries, job requirements, and employee expectations.
Stein's daughter, Riley Stein, shared her experience of completing her bachelor's degree in adult workforce education only to discover that there are few jobs available in that particular field. Riley is presently working three different part-time jobs and deciding what to do next. "Buyer beware" as applied to post-secondary education! She advocated for career training in specialized employment as a viable path to career development. Eighth-grade students learned it is essential to listen to guidance counselors and career specialists when they advise on which fields are hiring.
Stein has asked FSDB staff to present as well. In September, Amy Moring, a fundraiser in the FSDB Advancement Department, and Christi Boortz, Grant Coordinator in the Instructional Services Department, co-presented on the topic of grant writing. Boortz asked groups of students to brainstorm what they would do with a $10,000 grant to make their lives as students better. After completion of brainstorming/planning, the groups completed a condensed version of a typical grant application with narrative (written) and budget (fiscal) sections. Moring trained students on the competitive grant scoring process. Each group's grant application was reviewed and scored, and Moring read out the results.
Kathy Jones, a certified bookkeeper, presented information about her work. She explained that Quickbooks, a bookkeeping software company, offers training, expertise, and industry certification. She compared bookkeeping careers with those in the Certified Public Accountant field. According to Jones, "Being a bookkeeper is an excellent job for someone who wants to be self-employed or work in-house for a large company."
Corey Black of Green Light Tours presented information regarding tour directors. He shared job prospects, average income, and stressed the flexibility of being a tour guide. The presentation ended with an activity that involved students designing a tour for visually impaired participants in historic St. Augustine. Student dream tour plans included a tour of the FSDB campus with a stop at D&B Designs for purchase of souvenirs; downtown St. Augustine exploration on foot of the Braille Trail historical markers; lunch at the locally renowned Columbia Restaurant; and a visit to the Alligator Farm. This ideal tour would culminate with a stop at Fort Mose, the first free African American settlement in the New World.
Most recently, Randall Crosby visited FSDB before Thanksgiving to talk about the historic "first rights" passed in 1936 to ensure that blind/low vision individuals have at least one career path that caters to them. One highlight of his presentation was hearing about his NASA cafeteria experiences, hobnobbing with astronauts! Read about Crosby's presentation here.
The next step for students in this exciting comprehensive career series involves learning about skills inventories and Career and Technical Education offerings on the FSDB campus!
By Christi Boortz, Instructional Services and Edith "DD" Stein, Blind Department
The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind is a tuition-free state public school and outreach center available to eligible Pre-K and K-12 students who are deaf/hard of hearing, blind/visually impaired, or deafblind. At FSDB, students learn how to do more, be more, and achieve more, fulfilling our vision of preparing them for a lifetime of success. FSDB gratefully accepts private donations to support vital programs that directly benefit students and are not paid by state general revenue funds. For a campus tour or to inquire about eligibility for enrollment, contact FSDB Parent Services at 904-827-2212 voice or 904-201-4527 videophone. For more information, visit www.fsdbk12.org