Students explore careers during final week at Aylor

Robert E. Aylor Middle School eighth grade student Dylan Cadd looks out the window of a fire truck parked at the third school-wide career fair. Photo courtesy of Kim Black

STEPHENS CITY – Students at Robert E. Aylor Middle School started off their last week before summer vacation with a school-wide career fair on Tuesday.

Kim Black teaches agriscience at the school and has helped to organize the first fair at Aylor since it started two years ago. She said students seem to enjoy the chance to get out in that last week of school and some ask about it earlier in the school year.

“It’s actually part of our school plan,” she said. “We’ve kept it in there because we do think it’s good.”

During the fair, students have 45 minutes per grade to roam the supervised gymnasium and small blacktop area outside, exploring different careers with representative local speakers. Black said the school tries to book visitors with interesting trades and some hands-on opportunities.

“One of the biggest things we’ve learned is to be very clear with your people that it’s a middle school and it has to be kid friendly,” she said. “We repeatedly tell them to please bring stuff that they can touch and interact with.”

She said more than 20 speakers provided students with some fun activities and real-world applications this year – and there’s no connected worksheet or assignment for kids to complete afterward.

“We really would rather that they just walk around and talk to people,” she said. “Since it’s close to the end of the school year, it’s a really good activity to close the end of the year out with.”

Eighth grade student Dylan Cadd said he and his friends look forward to seeing the police and firefighting vehicles that typically come to the fair. He said tinkering with breadboards at Bill Black’s Electric table this year tied directly into his science classes at school.

“We did the circuit kind of stuff, and we learned about the batteries and connecting them to make a fan blow and make a buzzer buzz,” he said.

Jenna Arnoldy and Maddy Woolever, both eighth graders, said they enjoyed designing trophies this year at Crown Trophy’s table. Maddy said she’s also been able to explore her interest in history and education.

“It’s always really fun to go to because you get to learn about different careers,” she said.

Black said some other popular visitors include a chef, a butcher and a cartoonist.

She said the teachers involved spend months of planning and reaching out to speakers in different fields – and she said at least five speakers this year were former Aylor students. In future years, she said the teachers want to bring in a tractor-trailer driver or even a helicopter pilot.

“We spend the entire year trying to think of people. We’ll collect people everywhere we go and we’ll book them all year long,” she said. “One of the things I think is important is to have a wide variety of careers that require a variety of skills. You have kids that want to go to a four-year university … you have other kids who want to be working with their hands and they want to work with trades.”

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or