Firefighters with student and laptop, students watching screen in classroomsDuring a traditional school year, career day at elementary schools would consist of parents and community members visiting schools to present to students. This school year, with the pandemic safety measures in place, school counselors at Marshall, Tyler, Haymarket, Ashland, and Minnieville Elementary Schools teamed up to create a virtual career day.

The schools solicited family, friends, and members of the community to submit videos sharing details about their careers. Members of the Student Council Association (SCA) at Haymarket Elementary conducted interviews using Zoom.

"As a way to develop student leadership and career skills, we reached out to our SCA students, and they came up with the questions to ask each professional. The students proved to be very insightful and thoughtful with their questions," explained Robin Schenck, school counselor at Haymarket Elementary.

While watching the interview with race car driver Raechel Katz, which included a clip of her racing, a student in Jennifer Davis' third-grade class at Marshall Elementary, exclaimed, "Whoa, that's fast." Katz also shared the skills it takes to succeed and the challenges she faces in the sport.

Fifteen different careers were represented in the videos. "Introducing careers to elementary students provides them an opportunity to learn about the many different options they have out there for their future. It allows them to explore different avenues, learn about career clusters, career interests, and gives them a solid foundation for pursuing their interests as they choose specialty programs in middle and high school," explained Pandita Gerdy, Marshall's school counselor.

Gerdy's husband, a firefighter in Washington, D.C., submitted a video showing students around the fire station, but on their virtual career day, the Marshall students were treated to a surprise visit by Prince William County firefighters. During the outside presentation, the crews shared details about their job, the protective gear they wear, and much to the delight of the students, the firefighters brought a fire engine, tanker truck, and a rescue unit to display. With a laptop in hand, Shayna Russo, a fourth-grade teacher, shared the experience with her virtual students attending class on Zoom.

Ashland Elementary hosted a full week of exploring careers. "We ran a career week where we focused our lessons on careers as well as showed some of the videos we received from parents. We were happy to help contribute," shared Sarah Leclercq, school counselor at the school.

The videos of the variety of careers engaged students and piqued their interest. Molly Moomau, school counselor at Tyler Elementary, said, "My hope is that, through comprehensive school counseling programs, our students have received a thorough career education beginning in kindergarten to help them make the best choices for themselves. Career day is a great way to introduce careers to students and get parents and the community involved."

The Nokesville School also hosted a virtual career day. School counselor, Kelly Kaczmarczyk, explained that teachers were "sent links for activities and resources to investigate the world of work to make informed career decisions. The objectives varied from grade level to grade level and students will have the opportunity to identify their strengths further, explore hobbies and interests, and learn about post-secondary options."