Planning help awaits college- and career-bound students from Bradley County

Planning help awaits college- and career-bound students from Bradley County

September 10th, 2011 by Randall Higgins in News

English Whitehead prepares to show high school students how to use a medical drill during a science focused career day at Walker Valley High School on Friday. Whitehead, who is an registered nurse, works in pediatric emergency care at Children's Hospital at Erlanger.

Photo by Alex Washburn/Times Free Press.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- Bradley County and Cleveland high school students thinking ahead to colleges and careers will have plenty of help this school year.

Next week, 11th- and 12th-grade students from Bradley Central, Walker Valley and Cleveland high schools can take part in a countywide college fair at Lee University. About 70 colleges, universities, employers and members of the armed forces will be represented, said Cheryl Janzen, guidance counselor at Walker Valley.

On Friday, about 1,000 Walker Valley students now enrolled in science classes had another opportunity. Fifteen professionals, representing fields varying from forensics to utility line work, talked with students throughout the day about what it takes to get those jobs.

The science and math day developed from a federal Small Learning Communities grant for Bradley County, said Jenny Borden, Walker Valley science and mathematics department chairwoman.

"We create small learning communities in the high school where students can focus on a career interest," Borden said.

Friday's activities were part of a national movement known as STEM -- Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Borden said.

Walker Valley's corporate neighbors -- Wacker Chemical, Olin Corp. and others -- are having an influence on students' thinking, Borden said.

"That's one of the things we looked at, preparing students for the futures in science and math," she said. "Companies are looking for people who have technical literacy."

STEM is an education movement that extends to elementary schools, too. Park View Elementary recently received a $2,500 grant from Athens Federal Bank to support a science, technology, engineering and math laboratory.

At one of the Walker Valley sessions on Friday, members of the Tennessee National Guard showed students how much technology is a part of the military now.

Spc. Samantha Campbell and Sgt. First Class Tommy Samuelson brought night-vision goggles for students to try as Staff Sgt. John Thompson explained their use.

"When I was in Iraq I saw how technology is a distinctive advantage for American soldiers," Thompson said.

In her demonstration of the night-vision equipment, Campbell referred to video games, which sometimes feature such technology.

"I had already heard that comment from some of the kids," Thompson said.

Wednesday's countywide career and college fair is so big, students can't stop and talk to all the representatives, Janzen said. So she was in 44 classrooms last week, coaching students on how to make priorities.