ELLERBE – It’s never too early to start thinking about one’s future plans, and with the help of a dedicated staff and several community members, that initiative was met this week at a local middle school.
Ellerbe Middle School’s career fair Thursday did just that, as it showcased an impressive array of talent at no less than three levels.
First and foremost were the school staff personnel themselves. Orchestrated and facilitated primarily by guidance counselor Meghann Lambeth and CTE teacher Bonnie Yarbrough, with supplemental assistance from Marcia Lambeth and others, there was much credit to be acknowledged in conjunction with this monumental event.
Under the direct supervision of Principal Melvin Ingram, and supported by Superintendent Dr. Cindy Goodman (who was herself on campus for the event, along with several other Richmond County Schools administrative personnel), the Ellerbe Middle School staff members demonstrated a tremendous degree of effort and camaraderie in formulating this opportunity for their 230 students to glean invaluable insight into various careers and occupations to which they may avail themselves in the near future.
Lambeth was quick to bestow kudos and accolades upon those who had helped in multiple ways and directly supported the laborious efforts entailed in such a monumental project.
“The scheduling alone was quite time consuming,” Lambeth stated. “And we could not have made all of this happen without the contributions of numerous individuals.”
Lambeth noted that teachers, along with student government members, spent several hours over the past few weeks getting scheduling arrangements finalized, as well as securing the presenters.
Obviously necessary to ensure that the equation computed properly was the second variable: the professional career fair presenters who volunteered their time on a cold, wet November day. No less than 20 organizations provided representatives to explain and demonstrate the proverbial “ins-and-outs” of the nuances of their respective professions.
Some of the presenters included: art professors, a local real estate lawyer, several nurses, a Richmond County judge, representatives from different universities, Raiders head football coach Bryan Till and several other community professionals from varying degrees of careers.
One such enterprise was Superior Cranes, owned by Joe Everett and represented by Daniel Lewis and Marcus Powell. Superior Cranes has volunteered its time and resources before to RCS, and came through again at Ellerbe’s career fair.
“Mr. Everett wants us to do whatever we can to help the kids and the community,” said Lewis.
“We contribute to these types of events all the time and more than we can count,” seconded Powell.
With one of their huge trucks parked just outside the cafeteria, it was easy to understand their popularity with the mass of students ranging from sixth to eighth grade.
Another key contributor was Sergeant Detective Tahid Rucker of the Richmond County Sheriff’s Department. Thanks to Deputy Rucker’s intriguing description of a day in the life of an officer, the students seemed mesmerized by the thought of a career in law enforcement.
And of course it was the students themselves who constituted the third and final element of the day’s activities. Exceedingly well-behaved and courteous, they attended anywhere from six to seven 20-minutes sessions. They also reflected the teachings of their mentors and role models at Ellerbe Middle School as they politely responded to inquiries as to their opinion of the career fair and the value therein.
Students of all three grades were anxious to convey their newfound awareness of the multiple paths of possible career opportunities in their future, as they completed post-career fair surveys.
Powell noted the importance of an education, reminding students of the need to “stay in school” as a way of optimizing career choices.
Eighth grader and football player Jamerius McRae said that his attention was focused on the fact that any occupation will require some type of education or training, and that this career fair helped him to understand more about the various paths that may be followed.
Fellow eighth grader Taniyah Holland reported a bit of an epiphany in relation to the number of times that some of the professionals had altered their career choices, noting the refreshing aspect of realizing that such a change was indeed feasible at an “older” age or advanced point in one’s working life.
The gist of the true value of the Ellerbe Middle School Career Fair was perhaps best described by Principal Melvin Ingram himself. Extolling the dedication and targeted focus upon the academic needs and well-being of the students as demonstrated by his faculty and staff, Ingram specifically highlighted the fact that the event, as orchestrated by Lambeth and others, helped to, “instill a passion and interest in learning about career opportunities that may not have otherwise developed.”
After students finished their sessions, they headed back to their homerooms for one final surprise. They were greeted, in a pre-recorded video, by Richmond County native and current NFL linebacker Melvin Ingram (not to be confused with the school’s principal).
With the help of Ingram’s sister, Callie Ingram, he delivered a personal message that encouraged students to “stay in the books” as education and knowledge is a powerful tool that no one can take away from them.
“It was so kind of Melvin to take time from his busy schedule to relay a message to our students,” Lambeth said. “His success is an example of how kids from Richmond County can do anything they put their mind to. I am so thankful for him taking the time to participate in our career day festivities.”
Perhaps such projects can eventually manifest themselves throughout the Richmond County School system and, if so, perpetuate development of a similar level of “passion and interest” as was so evident at the Ellerbe Middle School Career Fair of 2017.
Lambeth noted that she plans to have a similar career day in the spring, as planning has begun to host a whole different set of presenters.