Career Day & Great News

Let's Begin

I promised last week I’d tell you about my experiences with Career Day at the middle school.  Quick background: my nephew’s wife teaches English there and the school sets aside one day in the spring for Career exploration.  Students range in age from 12-14 years old, though most of the students I spoke to were 13.

So imagine this: groups of 15 – 18 students, twenty-five minute sessions with about ten minutes between sessions.  I had four sessions.  The date: April 1st, the last hours before spring break and the second day of 80 degree temps, gentle spring breezes and bright blue cloudless skies.  Sure, the students wanted to be IN class, listening to career options. 🙂

When I entered the building and was directed to the library, I was amazed at how many other career professionals were there.  Among the 30 participants was a judge complete with robe and gavel, a sheriff’s deputy, police officer, K-9 dog and handler, firefighters with turnout gear, members of the army, navy, air force and Marines; technical writer, graphic designer, web designer, lawyer, hair stylist, electrician, plumber, carpenter with tool boxes and many others.  I had my AlphaSmart, my Kindle, and a PowerPoint presentation, and a stack of index cards. 😦

The principal welcomed us and then each of us was taken to our room by a student guide.  That’s when I realized I’d be competing not only with the weather and the half-day-before-vacation anticipation, but the K-9 contingent was doing their thing in the next class room.  And that “thing” included different types of barking.

What did I have going for me as I explained about being a writer?  Well, my niece told me all the students who had signed up for my sections had finished a unit on writers and elements of a novel.  Most of them wanted to meet and ask questions of “a real live writer.”  Whew, now if I could only live up to their expectations.

Doing Research

I utilized this information to develop the day in the life of a writer and all the elements it takes to get a book into the hands of a reader.  I know it could have taken weeks to cover everything but I hit the high lights, and involved the groups into what I called ‘help the writer do research.’  Those students really responded and I learned so much about that age group in today’s society. (“That’s where those index cards functioned and what treasures those cards hold!) They willingly answered my questions and asked me great ones.

Two young men I won’t forget.  As they saw each other entering the classroom, they did this greeting with the hands that was so unique.  Well, I asked the about it and asked if they’d teach me.  They did and then they asked if I’d put that in a book.  You bet I will.  They made up a name calling it the Davontae Wave.

I also will never forget the young girl who walked in so excited you could tell she was holding back a scream.  All her friends gathered round and one asked, “Did you make the squad?”  “Yes,” was the answer accompanied by much jumping up and down and hugging.  Some things never change.  She’d made some team.

I will never forget the interest those young students gave to me, nor will I forget their exuberance.  I was exhausted but wouldn’t hesitate to do so again.

Have any of you done something like this and gotten a far better reception than you thought likely? And what did you learn from it?

Also, I learned this week that Black Ribbon Affair has finaled in the Write Touch Readers’ Award contest.  This is the first final for my book and I love the fact that readers are the judges.  The winners will be announced on May 15th.

Explore posts in the same categories: Writing, Writing Contests


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9 Comments on “Career Day & Great News”

  1. I just love that picture of you in the classroom. 🙂 And having listened to you speak during last year’s conference when you told us the unbuttoned shirt story (still LOL over that one!), I have no doubt you impressed the students even more than you realized.

    And major congrats on finaling in the Write Touch!!!

  2. Edie Says:

    Great picture, Mary Jo. I’m sure you did a fabulous job and were an inspiration to the kids. As a bonus, you learned a lot, too.

    Congrats again on your final! I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you. 🙂

  3. caseyclifford Says:


    I didn’t realize how much I missed not speaking to others and thus I’ve really enjoyed the opportunities I’ve had to do so in the last year. So thank you for your comment. It’s good to know I can still make people laugh and learn.

    And you are definitely on a roll also with MTB. First the Bean Pot and now Write Touch. WTG! 🙂

  4. caseyclifford Says:


    Thanks for the congrats. I have to say that was the very highest peak of last week, getting that news. Like MT. Everest stratosphere!

    I wish I’d known how to use the video function on my camera as I’d have taken an action shot of those boys doing their hand greeting. Too fabulous ! 🙂

  5. Deb Says:

    You’re a natural teacher, MJ. I wish I could have been a mouse in the corner watching. But you gave a great description. What a joy and inspiration you were to those students, one that will be long remembered!

    CONGRATULATIONS on the final! I’m still grinning for you and will cheer you on in May!

  6. caseyclifford Says:

    Hey, Deb!

    Thanks for the grinning and the cheering. I’m in great company for the award. Sure glad I’m not competing against Stacey or Donna. Let’s see, is this how Sandra Bullock felt up against Meryl Streep? 🙂

  7. Elle J Rossi Says:


    Congratulations on your final. That’s wonderful news!

    I think things like this happen everyday. We go into a situation expecting so little. What we come away with, more often than not, is invaluable. Open minds and positive attitudes go a long way. It’s just hard to remember that.

  8. caseyclifford Says:

    Hi Elle,

    I was so moved by your post on the Sisters blog. And I agree with what you wrote here. Perhaps if we set our expectations way too high we can be disappointed. The the other hand, if we don’t have high expectations for ourselves, we won’t do our best. Right?

  9. Elle J Rossi Says:

    So, so true, Casey!

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