Today, I spent half of my day with seventh and eighth graders at a local junior high school. I was invited to attend their Career Day event to represent the “author” career field. I felt honored to be asked and I was very happy to participate. I prepared a brief, yet clever, PowerPoint presentation with bullet points related to: (1) How writers and authors influence the entertainment industry, (2) The requirements to be a successful author, and (2) The process to become published. Additionally, I made sure to engage the students each slide with questions or challenges to stimulate both critical thinking, as well as keep them personally engaged with my presentation. All-in-all, it worked marvelously!
I was assigned to a classroom and the homeroom teacher was my sponsor and liaison with the students. The event organizers had rather ingeniously arranged for seven abbreviated sessions of 25 minutes each. At the end of each period, buzzers sounded and an intercom announcer told students to switch rooms based upon the schedules they had been given. This way, each student was able to hear seven different career presenters throughout the event. Also, students were asked to rate each presenter and list their insights into the presentations. Honestly, I was impressed with how seamlessly things proceeded, and I was doubly impressed with each of the teachers and staff member’s courteous, welcoming, and encouraging demeanors toward us visitors. Given my many practiced years of experience as an adjunct college history professor, I didn’t even mind repeating my presentation multiple times to different groups throughout the morning.
Without a doubt, I was blown away by how well things went! It was a great load of fun and a marvelous way for me to connect with today’s youth. I thoroughly enjoyed interacting with the students, each of whom asked a host of insightful and unexpectedly thought-provoking questions. They even appreciated my somewhat goofy, spontaneously-punny sense of humor. Much laughter ensued from both students and my homeroom teacher-sponsor. If asked, I would do it again without hesitation, which is a strong possibility because the teacher said I did a fantastic job. When I told the school counselor that I had a great time and would love to come back again, she said she would email me with a confirmation, which sounded encouraging.
It was a satisfying and amazing personal investment, and it set my mood into high-spirited overdrive for the remainder of the day. I even treated myself to an indulgent lunch at Chili’s as a reward. In the end, upon reflection, I seriously wonder who received more benefit from the experience…the students or me?
One more thing: If you happen to meet a public school teacher, thank them profusely and then give them either a hug or handshake. They’re some of the most amazing people on the planet! While we’re at it, let’s give them a pay raise; they’re also some of the most underpaid and underappreciated professionals in our society today.
Seriously, just do it.
Until later, enjoy life; be kind to those around you, and Happy Reading! Peace.