Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Celebrate the Dream Program Brings 5th Grader to CACC

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Such is the question posed to nearly every child at some point in youth with the answer evolving as we age.  The notion of becoming an astronaut or a doctor or a firefighter often fills a child's mind with hopes and dreams of doing something fun--and socially important--in this world.  Columbia Public Schools' Parkade Elementary is lucky enough to be home to a program that offers its young students the opportunity to not only explore those hopes and dreams, but also to prepare themselves for success in their coming years.  

The Celebrate the Dream program was organized in 1995 by former CPS counselor Sky Jimenez to expose students to job opportunities and role models in our community, and to teach and practice social skills and manners that will serve them well past their public school years.  

"I wanted to give our kids a chance to see successful people in our city and to understand that it takes hard work and effort to get to those places," explained Jimenez.  

Built around the foundation of Black History Month, Ms. Jimenez teaches about the Civil Rights Movement and  gives lessons on table manners, interview etiquette, and social skills.  In culmination, she organizes a job shadow and mentor program that pairs Parkade fifth graders with successful African American community members.  Students mock interview in preparation, and then spend at least two hours with their mentor observing their daily job and then asking questions about their occupation.  After, students develop a presentation and present to their class as well as accompany their mentor to a luncheon held at Columbia College.

One CACC instructor will attend the luncheon with his young mentee.  Fifth grade student Khudier Khudier job shadowed our Safety and Security instructor Dean Martin on Tuesday, February 14.  Martin has participated in the program for years as the Boone County Fire Chief, and this year afforded the chance to showcase two professions:  firefighting and education.  

Khudier spent his time watching Martin teach and then learned how to safely remove someone from a dangerous situation using a dummy.  "Dragging the dummy across the floor was cool, but it was really heavy!" he said. 

"I love being a part of this program," said Martin. "The kids are well-prepared and really want to see what it's like to have a job that they might aspire to one day.  And this year, I got to talk about both of my jobs."

When posed the age-old question of what he wants to be when he grows up, Khudier smiled and shrugged his shoulders: "I don't know yet.  I'm only a fifth grader!"

According to Jimenez: "It's never too early to start getting our students to think about their future, and we're thankful to Chief Martin and the career center for giving Khudier this great opportunity!"  

1 comment:

  1. Oh my gosh...I LOVE that this program is still happening. All the planning, the detailed planning done makes such an AMAZING experience for students. I remember In 1996 it having an impact...what a wonderful opportunity for students to shadow "mentors" who do their job, are passionate about their job and make an impression on young minds and hearts. Thanks Ms. Jimenez for all your hard work and organizational skills! So happy that the CACC instructor was able to play a part!


Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. We screen before publishing comments.