This wasn’t just any ordinary field trip. The visit that 22 Dundalk High School students took to the Maryland State Department of Education on January 31 accomplished a dual mission.
First, students got an inside look at the workings of the state’s education system by shadowing some of Maryland’s top educators.
The visit also kicked off – albeit two days early – Maryland’s 10th Annual Groundhog Job Shadow Day on February 2, in which students from across the state learn about the working world by accompanying professionals in their jobs.
Job shadowing is one component of Maryland’s career development system, a comprehensive effort from pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade to inform students about career options and to prepare them for the workplace and higher education. In elementary school, career development may include guest speakers, research projects, and visits to colleges. In middle and high schools, career development can include the participation in “career pathways” that tie academics directly to the high-level skills and knowledge needed for a variety of fields.
Dundalk’s delegation – all members of the school’s Owl Chapter of the National Honor Society – spent half a day at the MSDE headquarters in downtown Baltimore, and they picked a good day to visit. The state’s Board of Education was in session, so students observed MSDE staff prepare for and present reports, discuss matters of educational policy, and interact with Board members.
Among the mentors shadowed during the day were Assistant State Superintendent Kathy Oliver and State Board of Education Vice President (and Dundalk High alumnus) Dunbar Brooks. The group was accompanied by program coordinator Susan Oskin, School-to-Career Coordinator Anita Hutchins, and Principal Peggy Johnson.
The Groundhog Job Shadow Day event supports the National Job Shadow Coalition’s year-round efforts to promote students learning about careers by shadowing successful adults. Along with a welcome from State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Nancy Grasmick, the Dundalk students observed and learned skills used daily by the educators at MSDE.
“We are thrilled to host these honor students from Dundalk High School for this job shadowing experience,” said Dr. Grasmick. “We encourage Maryland businesses, many of whom have been vital partners in helping to create career pathways and curricula that are relevant to real-world jobs, to take part in job shadowing opportunities this year. Job shadowing takes the knowledge and skills students learn in school and helps them understand how these skills can apply in the workplace. The value of this cannot be overestimated.”
Story by Charles Herndon, communications specialist for BCPS, and Peggy Johnson, Principal, Dundalk High School. Photo courtesy of Dundalk High School.