Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Makings connections between the classroom, workplace

by Airman 1st Class Ryan Conroy
31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

5/14/2014 - AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy  -- In an effort to create a realistic connection between the classroom and the workforce, Aviano Middle/High School students and young dependents shadowed Airmen from several different career fields May 9.

Approximately 160 school-aged kids were allowed the opportunity to experience the routine and rigors of a typical work day through the eyes of firemen, law enforcement officials, medical personnel and more during the annual base-wide event.

"I wanted to encourage them to do something they're really interested in," said Jill Krug, Aviano school liaison. "I wanted these students to apply themselves and make a connection between what they're learning in school and how it applies in the working world - to appreciate that everything they're doing now translates into a paying job."

This year, a new method was used to expose students to different career fields on job shadow day. In past years, school liaisons would notify the base to let them know it was occurring and students would be told to set up their shadow day on their own.

"The problem with that is students would only shadow their parents," said Krug. "Most children already know what their parents do and the way we set it up this year allowed for students to select careers from a broad spectrum and really see the opportunities available to them."

Throughout the day, students exercised classroom instruction and applied it to various workplace procedures through active participation.

In one instance, Krug visited students who were shadowing security forces members. The Airmen there were talking about a weapon with a range of 3,600 meters and asked the students how many football fields they thought that was.

"You could see the wheels in their head turning and trying to do the math," said Krug. "Even simple things like that are practicing problem solving. It's being able to understand and visualize and that's more important, in my opinion, than any of the material we learn in school."

School leaders weren't the only ones excited about the unique opportunity. The students shared their enthusiasm.

"I was able to shadow the firefighters today," said Chase Cottingham, Aviano High School 10th grade student and son of Janice Cottingham, Department of Defense Dependents school teacher. "It's something I was interested in doing once I graduated, and it really opened my eyes to the hard work these guys do. It helped that they made it pretty fun too."

At the end of the day, the students went back to school with new insights into the practical application of academics and a renewed sense of prudence for the years to come. Krug attributes the success of the day to all the volunteers and squadrons who afforded students a day in the life of an active duty military member.

"I can't tell you how much we appreciate the base support," said Krug. "None of this would have been possible without the overwhelming assistance from everyone involved. We hope to have this kind of success in the years to come."

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