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F.I.R.S.T. School Career Day Celebration During Ohio’s In Demand Jobs Week

From left to right: Jeff VanDyne, Terry Thornsberry, SMSgt Matthew Isganitis, Andrew Buck, Jordan Brlan, and Bethany Rachel

Mansfield, OH (May 25, 2023) – In celebration of Ohio’s In Demand Jobs Week, the F.I.R.S.T. School held a Career Day celebration on May 5, 2023, from 8:30-2 p.m. at Foundations for Living. The event was the first Career Day hosted since the start of COVID-19 delays and closures, and the students were thrilled to welcome members of the
community into the building.

From 8:30-11 a.m., six speakers moved from classroom to classroom speaking to different groups of students about their careers and education. Speakers included: Jeff VanDyne, Licensed Professional Counselor; Terry Thornsberry, former John Glenn International Airport Weather Observer; SMSgt Matthew Isganitis of the Ohio Air National Guard; Andrew Buck, Research Scientist; Jordan Brlan, Associate Director of Recruitment and Retention in the Department of Polymer Science & Engineering at the University of Akron; and Bethany Rachel, Junior Achievement Program Manager. The students took notes as they listened to each speaker talk about their life and experiences.

In the afternoon, the students were split into three larger groups, where they were able to spend an hour with various keynote speakers: David Peacock, Licensed Drama Therapist; Bethany Rachel, Junior Achievement Program Manager; Durrell LeGrair, IT Manager at Goodyear and Gospel Singer/Composer; Dr. Robert Brownlow, Co-Chair/Professor of Instruction, Music Theory & Composition in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Akron; and Jordan Brlan, Associate Director of Recruitment and Retention in the Department of Polymer Science & Engineering at the University of Akron.

The students participated in hands-on activities after hearing from the speakers, learning a variety of skills. Keynote speaker David Peacock talked the students through various Drama Therapy exercises, while Dr. Brownlow focused on teaching the students basic keyboard functions and features, including how to encode musical notes. This process also built students' technical skills, as participants were equipped with the tools to edit in a digital notation software, Finale. Speaker Durrell LeGrair provided an additional layer of musical education and utilized his singing/composing background by demonstrating harmonization and vocalization techniques. Bethany Rachel concentrated on building the students’ interview skills, an equally important topic. During this time, she drew the line between hard and soft skills, giving helpful tips regarding professionalization and confidence during interviews. Jordan Brlan talked with the students about career development as well, supplying details about various programs at the University of Akron and sharing her experience of working in recruitment and retention there.

Both Mrs. Brownlow and Mr. Jones were instrumental in recruiting speakers for this event. Mrs. Brownlow commented, “Career day is an invitation for students to engage in critical thinking about the future, communicating needs and thoughts through questions and discussions with successful professionals from
different fields. Hopefully, this event inspires them, and potentially gives them the opportunity to imagine a greater future for themselves.”

Mr. Jones stated, “Career Day 2023 at F.I.R.S.T. School enabled our students to be inspired by local business professionals who provided insight into their career choices. Our students were engaged and motivated to say “yes” to opportunities. The students were provided with a plethora of new tools to support them in their future career journeys.”

It takes an immense amount of support to organize a F.I.R.S.T. School event. The F.I.R.S.T. School recognizes and appreciates the support provided by the staff at Foundations for Living throughout the entire event.

F.I.R.S.T. School is a Private Residential Treatment Facility (PRTF) Program funded through the Ohio Department of Education Private Residential Treatment Facility Pilot Program to operate the academic program at two of the three PRTF sites: Abraxas, located east of Shelby and FIRST, located west of Lucas. PRTF programs are also supported through Title 1-D (Delinquent) funds administered by Mid-Ohio ESC. Mid-Ohio ESC partners with the residential treatment program administration and staff to deliver an educational program that meets the requirements of the Ohio Department of Education for students in correctional facilities.

Mid-Ohio Educational Service Center provides specialized academic and support services to 13 school districts and over 20,000 students in Crawford, Morrow and Richland  Counties. Client districts receive services from curriculum, gifted and special education consultants, speech pathologists, psychologists, special education teachers,
occupational therapists and physical therapists.

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