BY KAREN CAMPBELL
Weakley County Schools Communications Director
GLEASON (March 18) – On the last day before spring break, Gleason School hosted its inaugural College and Career Fair for sixth through twelfth graders. Organizers hoped the students will have lots to think and dream about as the result of their efforts.
Representatives from educational institutions, the military and law enforcement, and local businesses staffed information tables throughout the morning as grade level groups entered the gym every 15 minutes for 45-minute interactions.
School counselor and organizer Kerri Maddox received 39 positive responses from entities wanting to engage with the students. The list included: University of Tennessee at Martin Admissions, UTM Dual Enrollment Office, Bethel University Admissions, Bethel University Dual Enrollment Office, UTM Vet Tech Program, Bethel University Physician Assistant Program, Jackson State Community College, Union University, Murray State, University of Tennessee at Knoxville, Tennessee College of Applied Technology, Weakley County Schools, Weakley County Schools Technology Program, U.S. Marines, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, Tennessee National Guard, Weakley County Municipal Electric System, Angie’s Custom Apparel, District Attorney’s Office, Bank of Gleason, United Systems, Hamilton-Ryker, City of Gleason, Lakeside Senior Living, Carl Perkins Center, Imerys Clay, Stanley Black & Decker, Vaughn Roofing, West Tennessee Public Utility District, Tennessee State Highway Patrol, City of Gleason Police Department, and Lhoist Clay.
Maddox credits Principal Lee Lawrence with conceiving of the customized approach examining what Gleason students can look forward to after high school. Maddox was joined in her planning efforts by Gleason School’s Janie Dellinger and Melissa Lawrence. Lawrence designed the day’s logo which stressed FOCUS (Following Opportunities Creating Unlimited Success). The team worked with teachers to prepare the students for soft skills such as making eye contact and introductions and in completing interview forms. Students helped welcome guests, set up, and take down the space.
Teachers also created a hospitality room with coffee bar, cold drinks, and homemade treats for the exhibitors.
“We are asking a lot for them to come and take time out of their workday to talk to our students, and we wanted to provide a thank you,” she explained of the well-received space.
Sixth-grader Anthony Solares summed up the experience from the students’ perspective, “I enjoyed learning about all the different careers and meeting new people. It was an EPIC day!”
Principal Lawrence concluded, “It has been a goal of ours for several years now to host a college and career fair for our grades 6-12 students at Gleason School. I would like to thank our school counselor Mrs. Kerri Maddox for her hard work putting this opportunity together, and a big thanks to all the vendors who graciously gave of their time to support our school and students. Our desire is to continue this as an annual event, along with the expansion of opportunities for our students.”