Middle schoolers learn about jobs in Davie

Published 1:17 pm Tuesday, December 26, 2023

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By Jeanna Baxter White

Word Master Media Group

Davie County’s seventh-grade students recently got a jump start on career exploration with behind-the-scenes tours of local businesses and manufacturers as part of Manufacturing Day 2023.

Students from North Davie and South Davie middle schools each toured two locations, including Dex Heavy Duty Parts, Dunlop Aircraft Tyres, Fuller Welding & Fabricators, Gildan, Pro Refrigeration, and  Rise Indoor Sports.

Middle-schoolers from Ellis and the virtual school spent their time experiencing facets of Ashley Furniture Industries, Inc.

Hosted annually, Manufacturing Day is a national event focused on manufacturing careers. The tours were the collaborative efforts of Davie CONNECT, Davie County Economic Development, Davie County Schools, and the Davie business community.

“Middle school students are the next generation workforce, and these tours 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 observed career opportunities in the county. 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, the size of the facilities, the variety of jobs, the educational requirements, and the machinery used in the day-to-day operations.

“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 High. “Manufacturing Day was also a wonderful learning experience for our middle school teachers who saw first-hand the practical application of the skills they teach in the classroom.”

Business and industry participants appreciated the chance to showcase their facilities and the careers they have to offer to this future workforce.

This is the fifth year that Davie County has participated in Manufacturing Day, and  McManamy is pleased with the great feedback she consistently receives from businesses, students, and teachers. She and Davis appreciate everyone who helped make Manufacturing 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.

Davie County Schools’ commitment to comprehensive career exploration extends beyond Manufacturing Day, targeting students from fifth grade onward with grade-appropriate exposure inside and outside the classroom.

Last spring, fifth and sixth graders attended Careers on Wheels at the Davie County Community Park. Twenty-two local organizations brought vehicles for students to explore and answered questions about their professions. They included Trailers of the East Coast, 3W Roofing, Davie County EMS, Town of Mocksville, Davie County Sheriff’s Department, Mocksville Post Office, YVEDDI, Cozart Handyman Services, Premier Metal Buildings, Ketchie Creek Bakery, Shepherd Realty Group, Davie County Recreation and Parks, Davie High School Carpentry Class, Piedmont Triad Regional Council (PTRC), Davie County Schools Transportation, Davie Construction, McGee Brothers, Davidson-Davie Community College DDCC, Ashley Furniture, NC Wildlife Resources Commission, Joe’s Tow, and Shutterbug Photography.

The Be Pro Be Proud NC Mobile Workshop will park at the high school for two weeks this spring. The mobile lab offers virtual activities that show students what different careers are like.

All sixth graders will have the opportunity to explore a variety of technical careers like automation and robotics, biomanufacturing, mechanics, drafting, computer programming, welding, and construction.

These students will also participate in mini-activities with the teachers and students in the high school’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) department to learn more about the programs and classes that will be available to them.

Last year, eighth graders toured the high school, early college, and both campuses of DDCC with their guidance counselors. This year, they visited the high school in the fall and will tour DWhile outside events are impactful, the core of career preparation now occurs in the classroom. Last year, Davie County Schools added a middle school career development coordinator to offer additional career exposure opportunities for younger students. All fifth through eighth graders participate in a grade-targeted career lesson with Stephanie Morris each quarter.

She said career exploration in fifth and sixth grade focuses on awareness, such as what a career is, how people choose jobs, work environments, and skills.

Sixth graders take their first personality assessment and discuss careers that match their skills and interests.

Seventh and eighth grade revolves around exploring particular careers and building skills.

Eighth graders also prepare to enter high school and learn about the high school, early college, course options, career pathways, and IGNITE DAVIE College Promise.

Davis said by the time students get to high school, they often have an idea of their direction.

“Unless we can get in front of them in late elementary or middle school, we miss the opportunity to expose them to the many different career options available.”

Morris added: “At the middle school level, we aim to ensure all kids succeed. We want to reach those kids who don’t know what they want to do and are at risk of dropping out and find that one thing that will hold them in school so they can graduate and have a successful future.

“In middle school, everyone may want to be a veterinarian or a TikTok star,” Davis said with a chuckle, “but we want to encourage them to have a backup plan. We want to inform them of what is available in our region, specifically Davie County. There are so many opportunities for a solid career here.

“Our main goal is never to discourage students from doing anything but rather to make them aware of all of their options. We are grateful to our local business partners for playing a key role in showcasing the career opportunities in Davie County and supporting our students as they embark upon their career journeys.”