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Students Participate in Career-Focused Conference

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The Hernando County School system exemplifies the belief that it is never too soon to set goals, work on self-development and think about your future career. Proof of that was a conference on Friday Feb. 7 that the school board sponsored for the county’s eighth graders.   Friday was the final day of the three day conference.

Students from all the middle schools, as well as the K-8 schools, attended the Home Grown Conference which took place at the WellCome OM Integral Healing & Education Center in Spring Hill. The event lasted from 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. and covered a wide range of topics that were presented in small group “break-out sessions.”     

The purpose of the event was to engage students in a workshop-style environment in which they could interact with local business leaders and community members, while introducing them to career pathways in Hernando County. The following businesses and organizations that sponsored the conference included: Accuform, Chick-fil-a, Hernando County Education Foundation, Kiwanis Club of the Adventure Coast, Saint Leo University and the Wellcome Om Center. 

Superintendent of Schools John Stratton kicked off the conference with an address to an enthusiastic group of students. Afterwards, School Board member Jimmy Lodato inspired them with a brief summary of his life, his achievements and his commitment to students and his community. 

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Lodato told the students, “I am here to try and help you and get you in a direction that will make you successful. You must have the courage to move forward and do what is necessary to become successful. You can never give up.” 

After Lodato’s speech, the students were free to choose a series of thirty-minute workshops to attend. At the end of each session they moved on to a different workshop for a total of four small-group sessions. 

High school students were also there to mentor the younger students and explain some of the Career Academies that are part of the school system. For example juniors from Weeki Wachee High School talked about careers in the digital arts, entertainment and teaching fields.  

Tyler Harris explained, “In the mainstream media and society, in general, we look more toward lawyers, doctors and business people. We forget how much money can be made in the entertainment industry. But, it’s not all about money; it’s about having fun in what you’re doing and enjoying it.” 

Anthony Aulicino added, “Movies, T.V. shows, video games – those are all examples of entertainment. It’s a very wide-open field because not a lot of people look at it as a career opportunity.” 

Sarina Singh, Peer Educator at WellCome OM Education Center, held workshops entitled “Be EMPOWERED.” In the workshops, she explained how to make good decisions. 

“#Goals” was a workshop conducted by Yamil Figuero, a young woman who emigrated to the U.S. from Puerto Rico. She grew up in Spring Hill basically in a single parent home. Her mother inspired her to excel and to not make excuses. Despite the many pressures she was under, she made the right choices. She spoke to the students about setting small goals, as well as long-term goals. Ms. Figuero told the students to write down the goals, put a date on them as to when they wanted to achieve those goals and then review those goals every day. She told them not to think of themselves as “victims” of their circumstances. 

Charlotte Edwards with the John Maxwell Team conducted two workshops on how to discover your personality using the DISC Method. They were entitled “Finding Your Strength (1)” and Finding Your Strength (2). DISC stands for the four basic personality types – Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientiousness.  By checking off a series of personality traits and behaviors on two separate sheets of paper, the students were able to determine their basic personality type. Ms. Edwards pointed out that using the personality inventory might help them to decide what careers would fit them best.  

Powell Middle School eighth grader Alison Brown, who wants to be a veterinarian, stated, “It was really helpful. It showed me more of my personality and what I could do when I get older.”    

Career and Technical Education (CTE) is part of the Hernando County schools curriculum. Its mission is to prepare students to be workforce ready, as well as prepare them for postsecondary education and to be responsible citizens. 

CTE has two goals to achieve its mission. One is to develop knowledge-based graduates who will become qualified employees. The other is to provide programs leading to careers that are high-skill, high-wage and high-demand. 

Each of the five high schools specialize in certain academic and career-related fields. The purpose is to make what the students study more relevant to possible careers when they graduate. Several of the K-8 and Middle Schools also have specialized programs.  

For more information on CTE go to www.hernandocareerpathways.com

For a free career planning tool log on to www.MyCareerShines.org.      

Lisa MacNeil
Lisa MacNeil
Lisa MacNeil is a reporter for the Hernando Sun as well as a business technology developer, specializing in website development, content management systems, and data analysis.
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