DHS students learn from the pros

First Posted: 2/26/2012

Calling all local professionals – Dallas High School students want to hear from you.

The Dallas High School guidance department recently launched its “Career Spotlight Speaker Series,” in which local professionals, Dallas graduates or parents of Dallas students are invited to speak to high school students about a particular job field.

Guidance counselor Robyn Jones said the series is part of a new directive in career preparation that will eventually be mandated by the state Department of Education.

“We actually plan to be well ahead of the game,” said Jones.

Along with the speaker series, the guidance department at the new high school features a career resource center, complete with a group counseling room and computers available for students to explore colleges and career paths on their own.

“The philosophy is that you’re here at Dallas High School to get an education to prepare you for your future contribution to society,” said Jones. “If you make it relevant to the student, the student takes ownership of their high school journey.”

The speaker series has already had three programs in the following fields: dentistry, video game arts and engineering. The idea is to bring in Dallas alums or parents of current students. Jones said having locals explain their career paths is more encouraging for kids.

“We’re trying to get the home, school, community – that dynamic triangle – to get together,” said Jones.

Jones hopes the program will eventually become self-sustaining, and she would like to see the entire school participate in helping students’ realize their futures.

For example, Jones said, a person in a science field could talk to several science classes in a day. Right now, the program is held twice a month for a few students at one time of the day in the guidance department.

“Then you have the entire school involved in career planning, not just the guidance department,” she said.

The most difficult part in creating this speaker series is finding the speakers, and Jones hopes community members in various fields will eventually begin to volunteer to speak to students.

“Let’s bring people back who graduated to see our brand-spanking beautiful new building and to give back to the school that gave so much to (them),” she said. “And not just graduates, but people in the community who live back here. What better teacher is there than experience?”

Students seem to agree. Several students said they have benefited from the program, including senior Jess Adams, who hasn’t decided on his career yet but has a better idea due to the speaker series.

Adams, 17, of Dallas, attended the presentation offered by residents Diane and Steve Thompson, who are engineers.

“Engineering is something I’ve considered as one of the career choices I might want to look into,” he said.

Adams enjoys math and is also considering careers in architecture and teaching.

“Mr. Thompson talked about how many kids go in choosing one section of engineering but may end up switching to another,” he said. “It just shows you can go into something and figure things out and it ends up being different than you thought – you have to keep your mind open.”

Adams realized the kind of education he needed to be an engineer and what specific skills are required for the field.

He said the presentation made him more inclined to pursue the field because he knows what it’s all about, though he admits he’s still undecided.

Senior Josh Shilanski, of Shavertown, chose to attend the dentistry speaker program with Dr. Duane Sprau of Clements Dentistry because he’s always been interested in becoming a dentist.

He said the speaker program only reinforced his desire to enter into the field, and Shilanski ended up learning more about the career as a result.

“This actually provided the most information out of everything I’ve done,” he said. “It gave insight on what he went through to become a dentist and what he goes through on a daily basis as a dentist.”

Jones said 17-year-old Shilanski has been accepted to Temple University in Philadelphia, which has “a very reputable dentistry program.”

Seventeen-year-old Megan Redlich, of Dallas, is one of Dallas High School’s “tech gurus” under the advisement of technology director Bill Gartrell.

As a lover of technology and art, Redlich thought it would be worthwhile to attend the video game art and design speaker series with Dallas graduate Joseph Stachnik. Redlich wants to pursue a career in digital animation.

“It inspired me more because of the sort of things (Stachnik) does and what he works with,” she said.

Redlich plans to attend a school in Florida after graduation. She said the speaker program only increased her passion for the field.

“It’s always more helpful to hear something firsthand than to read it somewhere, and it’s always a confirmation of things,” she said.

For more information

If you are interested in presenting to Dallas High School seniors in the “Career Spotlight Speaker Series,” contact the high school guidance department at 674-7218.

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