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Kids get a preview of the future

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Holly Steed, an MRI technician with Valley Health, points to images of a brain taken by what she described as a "huge magnet." Ryan Cornell/Daily (Buy photo)

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Steve Shifflett shows how the size of baseballs differ in certain leagues. Shifflett is a college baseball umpire and also officiates Shenandoah Valley League games. Ryan Cornell/Daily (Buy photo)

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Martine Batlle teaches a fourth grade student how to curl hair. Batlle is the owner of Martine's Hair Salon in downtown Woodstock. Ryan Cornell/Daily (Buy photo)


By Ryan Cornell

WOODSTOCK -- Fourth graders at W.W. Robinson Elementary School were treated to a taste of all types of jobs at the school's career day on Friday.

Volunteers from 16 different professions talked about their jobs and how they got them.

The students said they thought it was a neat way to learn about what jobs were available once they got older.

Nicholas Mills said he really wants to become a truck driver because it's a job that most of his family does.

Michaela Black said she wasn't sure about what she wants to do yet, but said her favorite career to learn about on Friday was a police officer.

"He had a lot of interesting things to say and it really looked cool," she said.

Making judgment calls
Steve Shifflett gets paid, essentially, to watch college baseball games and appear on television every so often. That's because the retired Broadway resident is an umpire, calling fouls and counting strikes for the Atlantic Coast Conference, Colonial Athletic Association and Big South Conference.

He said he travels all across the East Coast to officiate games, from Philadelphia to Clemson, S.C.

Like other jobs, Shifflett said umpires start out at the bottom. He said they begin officiating little league games, move onto high school games and then get to umpire college games.

Clad in a black SVU hat -- which stands for Shenandoah Valley Umpire rather than Law & Order's "Special Victims Unit" -- he said it's better to be forgettable.

"That's how to tell if you did a good job as an umpire," said Shifflett, who's been doing it for the past 35 years. "Nobody remembers who you are."

Adding some color
Some artists work on a canvas. Others might chisel away at a block of marble. For hairdresser Martine Batlle, owner of Martine's Hair Salon in downtown Woodstock, her medium is people's hair.

Speaking to a table of fourth grade girls, including a regular client of hers, she said she had to earn nearly 2,000 hours of experience while she went to cosmetology school in New Jersey to get her license. Not only do hairdressers need to learn about hair, she said, but also nails, muscles and the skeletal system.

She said people often make the mistake of adding too much color or damaging their hair, but said these problems can easily be solved.

"Most everything you do can be corrected," she said. "There is nothing you can't fix. If it's too blonde, you can make it darker, and if it's too dark, you can make it blonder."

Having X-ray vision
The eyes of fourth graders fixated on a video of an office chair dangling in mid-air, being pulled toward an MRI machine by an invisible, superhuman force. The voices in the video counted as a pressure gauge needled upward. 1,600 pounds...1,800 pounds...2,000 pounds of pressure being exerted by the magnet, they said, until the back of the chair snapped completely off and was sucked into the metal donut.

Holly Steed, an MRI technician for Valley Health Services, turned off the video and spoke to the class.

"It takes everything magnetic," she said. "That's why when I go to work, I make sure I have nothing in my pockets."

She explained that the machine uses these magnets to take pictures of the inside of the body, including the brain, bones, joints and tissue.

Steed said she attended a two-year tech program at the Winchester Medical Center's radiology school and has operated the MRI machine for the past five years.

Making people healthy
Elizabeth Provenzano, pharmacist at the Woodstock CVS, doesn't grumble much about her job. It's what she's always loved doing. On vacation, she said she visits other CVS pharmacies to see what they're like. But if there's one thing that she could do without, it's the standing. She said she works though 12-hour shifts on her feet.

"So get good shoes," she said. "You don't sit down a whole lot."

She said she earned a bachelor's degree in pharmacy from the Medical College of Virginia in 1993 and has worked as a pharmacist ever since.

Provenzano is celebrating her 11th year at CVS this year. She said she fills about 300 prescriptions per day and gives shots for the flu and other diseases.

Although her feet are surely tired, her hands should be exhausted: she said she's given 1,027 flu shots since August.

Driving her kids
Christina Kibler takes her kids to school in the morning just like anyone else. She drops them off right in front of the school and waves goodbye to them as they hop out the door. The only difference is she's a school bus driver and her kids -- including a couple of her own -- are in the dozens.

Kibler said that when she first started, it was challenging learning where everyone lived and what everyone's name was, but it's gotten much easier. She encounters a lot of deer, she said, and recently was able to dodge a rafter of about 50 turkeys.

"I have to watch you [students], the other cars, the other people on the road, the animals on the road," she said. "Being a bus driver isn't just about driving, it's about being safe."

She answered a common question brought up by a few of the school groups.

"I don't take my bus to McDonalds," she said. "First of all, it wouldn't fit in the drive-thru."

Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rcornell@nvdaily.com


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