What do you want to be when you grow up? That question was on the minds of Webster Elementary students last month, after parents came to share their life and work experiences during Career Day.
“I talked a little about my career,” said Andrea Palmer, who runs a temporary personnel service in South Central Los Angeles, “but when they actually started listening was when I started talking about integrity, friendship and manners — how you treat your fellow workers. I think they could relate to those concepts because they’re using them now in school.”
The kids also had an easy time relating to the job of Scott Pease, a video game producer and husband of a Webster teacher. “I had a lot of fun just talking to them and sharing their enthusiasm,” said Pease. He hopes the kids learned that work can be fun. “It’s fun to have a job you enjoy every day,” Pease said. But, he noted the students seemed more interested in the product than the process. “They all wanted to know the secrets of the game.”
This was Webster’s first career day, and it was no accident that it took place during the school district’s “Red Ribbon Week.” For one week each year, the school is decorated with bright red ribbons, and the students make pledges to remain drug free. “It was planned that way because our focus in red ribbon week is not just about staying away from drugs. Every year we try to focus on the positive. It’s about making healthy choices for our minds and bodies,” said Jackie Williams, Webster parent and coordinator of this year’s Red Ribbon Week.
The career day participants were “examples of making good choices,” said Webster Principal Phil Cott. “Live your dreams and make a good life,” is the message Cott says he hopes came through.
Career day speakers included doctors, dentists, actors, firefighters and even a park ranger. Webster mom Suzanne Adams has had many careers, including professional fund raising, running a kennel and teaching ballroom dancing. Adams said the focus of her talk was on keeping a positive attitude to accomplish your goals. “I hope that they feel work can be different things to different people. Joy can be included into your job. It’s really an important thing to have passion in their lives.” What does Adams consider her most important job? “First and foremost, I’m a mom,” she said.
Many Webster parents have put their careers on hold to focus on their families. Those parents had been left off the original agenda but, during the planning stages, they made it clear they wanted to be represented. “It wasn’t what I was thinking,” said Cott, “but I quickly realized that wasn’t what they wanted to hear.” Cott added to the speaker’s list past PTA president Colleen O’Beirne Brydon, who listed her career as homemaker and PTA representative.
“I think it’s very important that this group is represented,” said Williams, “because, no matter what we choose to do for our careers, most of us are going to be parents. We have to factor that in while we’re thinking about careers.”