FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP, NJ - Franklin Park Elementary School invited professionals to share their experiences with students for their first Women's Career Day, Wednesday. 

Guest speakers came from a diverse background of professions, such as - law enforcement, firefighting, accounting, education, medical, government, entrepreneurship, ground transportation, and much more. 

"Our first Women's Career Day was a huge success," Vice Principal Nikkii Tatum said to staff. "The presenters were all impressed with our students and the level of questioning and engagement our students had. Many of them stated that they look forward to returning to speak to our students next year."

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Franklin Middle school has an annual career day for the students and Tatum felt it would be a good idea to bring it to FPS, and focus on career women. School staff, PTO members, and parent volunteers collaborated to make the day possible. 

"What I like about this district is, of course, the diversity but what I think is most important is the talent," Tatum said. "From our Fine Visual and Performing Arts to our Athletics program;  our students have talent, case and point, our high school girl's basketball team just won the State Championship. There is a lot of talent here, so when I am planning programs, I like to involve the community and neighboring schools in the district, so our students and families can see what is going on in Franklin Township Public Schools."

The speakers gave a brief biography of the educational requirements for their careers and discussed who assisted and challenged them along the way. 

Speakers and participants also expressed their thoughts with Tatum:

“This was such a great day,” Franklin Park Teacher Shari Bash said via email.  “Our students learned so much and had a chance to enjoy the presentations made by such wonderful women. Thank you for giving us this opportunity.  We are definitely hoping to have this again next year.” 

"I was thrilled to participate in Women's Career Day at Franklin Park Elementary School,” Rev. Catina Joy Blackmon Jackson said in an email.  “There is a need in the country to recruit more young talent in STEM careers. I strongly believe that exposing students to STEM careers at an early age increases the opportunity to recruit more talent upon college graduation. I experienced great joy in seeing the students understand how math and teamwork is the formula for great success! Third and fourth graders were able to successfully build an IT budget, identify financial IT risks, plan a meeting agenda with a CIO, and prepare an elevator speech that taught them how to market their skills, talents, and interests. We had a great time learning what it means to work in Information Technology!"

“It was fun and enlightening for me to work with elementary aged students, responding to their questions, assisting them as they worked,” Director of Social Studies Phyllis Bruno said via email. “Perhaps my favorite question of the day, after presenting what I do here in the district, was from a little girl who asked, ‘But what is your real job, your business?’  Certainly a humbling experience!”

They also told stories to the students about their careers and brought in some tools of their trades to provide visuals.

"Some people brought their own gear, Cpt. Lorrie Del Casale, a local firefighter brought in her equipment for the kids to see," Tatum said. "We also had a hair stylist and salon owner (Katherine Williams) bring in various hair tools and two mannequins for the students to practice brushing hair."

The timing of the event worked out well because the mayor and township council designated March 2017 as, "Women's History Month" last week during the council meeting through a proclamation and the Women’s Center at Raritan Valley Community College will also be honoring women this month. 

Tatum said the event would not have been possible without the help of Principal Nicole Sury, Vice Principal Purvi Shah, FPS school counselors, Madlin Rizkalla, FPS Secretarial Staff, FPS PTO & Parent Volunteers, FPS Safety Officers, and Tom Miele. Local florist, the Flower Station donated carnations for the presenters.

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