7th graders introduced to local careers

Published 9:49 am Wednesday, June 1, 2022

By Jeanna Baxter White

Word Master Media Group

Davie County’s seventh-grade students recently got a jump start on career exploration with unique behind-the-scenes tours of local businesses.

Students from Ellis, North Davie, and South Davie middle schools toured two locations including Comfort Bilt/Larson Manufacturing, Fuller Welding & Fabricators, Gildan, Pro Refrigeration, Rise Indoor Sports, and Davidson-Davie Community College – Davie Campus.

Other students from all three schools spent their tour time experiencing facets of Ashley Furniture Industries.

Traditionally held in the fall as part of the annual national Manufacturing Day, the tours were the collaborative efforts of Davie CONNECT, Davie County Economic Development, Davie County Schools, and the Davie County business community.

This year, the organizers provided a spring Career Exploration Day since the pandemic halted the fall event in 2020 and 2021.

“Middle school students are the next generation workforce and these tours are designed to expose them to career opportunities, show how their current and future curriculum ties to real-world careers, and ignite interest in their future,” said Carolyn McManamy, director of Davie CONNECT. “During the tours, businesses showcased the scope of jobs available at their facilities and discussed the requisite higher education or skills training needed.”

More than 400 students and staff were exposed to career opportunities here. Business leaders provided tours including examples of how their employees use math, science, technology, and communication skills. Students were intrigued by the emphasis on safety, size of the facilities, variety of jobs including the educational requirements for the job, and the machinery used in the day-to-day operation of the businesses.

“As a school district, it is our responsibility to make students aware of all educational and employment opportunities, and this collaborative effort is an excellent means to familiarize our students with the diverse careers available in Davie County,” said Anthony Davis, director of CTE and Federal Programs for Davie County High School. “Career Exploration Day was also a wonderful learning experience for our middle school teachers who saw first-hand the practical application of the skills they are teaching in the classroom.”

“We opened the doors of Fuller Welding to seventh-grade students to show them how many products they see on a daily basis that are manufactured at our facility. We wanted to teach them about our processes and share our story,” said Phil Fuller, owner. “Fuller Welding is celebrating its 50th anniversary and we are proud of the business we have built and our contributions to the Davie community.”

At Comfort Bilt, students learned about the company’s history and growth projections over the next several years. They also had the opportunity to tour the manufacturing and distribution facilities and watch a door being made on the Classic View production line.

“This was a great experience for the younger generation to see what manufacturing has to offer and to get them excited about the jobs they can do in the future,”  Plant Manager Dan Hemmen said.

Andrea Kimura, HR generalist, added: “We really enjoyed having the students from North and South Davie join us. They asked great questions and we hope seeing what we do helps them understand the impact manufacturing has in our community and that it can be a great career for them.”

Davidson-Davie Community College exposed the students to the career training opportunities at the college. Students explored its many career paths by touring five stations, some with hands-on learning opportunities:

• Truck Driver Training Truck and Mocksville Fire Truck;

• EMS Ambulance – included hands-on CPR practice;

• Manufacturing Sim Lab – CNC machining, robotics, welding;

• Nursing Lab – observed Nurse Aide students in action; and

• Surgical Technology Lab & Science Lab – included hands-on activities in the science lab.

McManamy has been pleased with the feedback from businesses, students and teachers. She and Davis appreciate everyone who helped make Career Exploration Day a success.

“Aligning business needs with curriculum will ensure Davie County has a ready and able workforce to meet the challenges of businesses today and in the future,” she said.