Jim Morrow, who’s been on the Great Neck South High School staff for 24 years, is set on expanding his innovative Career Exploration program that fell by the wayside six years ago when the district cut its funding.
Actually, Morrow started the program, which has students following their job interests by spending a day off campus with cooperating businesses, with a since retired colleague, Joe DeRiso, about 12 years ago. He informally refers to the program as “job shadowing.”
Morrow has restored the program at South which now has seven enthusiastic sophomores and juniors meeting daily to research their career options and share their experiences with their teacher, Catherine Campbell, and Morrow, who is the chairperson of the Special Education Department.
“Our goal,” said Morrow, “is to expand it and bring it back to where it was.” When the program was fully funded and running at both North and South High Schools, there were as many as 70 youngsters participating.
“They spend a day in the field,” said Morrow in describing the program. “First they research salaries and job descriptions but they don’t get to see things until they actually spend time in the field.”
“It’s just a great opportunity for kids to have a hands-on experience,” he continued. That’s what the great part of the program is.“
“I think it’s very important for students to get that experience,” Campbell said. “They’re able to see if it’s something they’re interested in but it also gives them a view of employment in general and how it works.”
One of the reasons Morrow is looking forward to expansion is his enthusiasm for Campbell’s role in the program. “You really want someone who has excitement and sees the value in the program,” he said of Campbell, who is in her third year at the school, but only her first working in Career Exploration.
One of Campbell’s students, Juliana Lenahan, was interested in becoming a veterinarian and spent a day at the New Hyde Park Animal Hospital. She wound up changing her mind about her career choice.
“I don’t think that I would want to become a veterinarian, “ she said. “I’m a very emotional person and seeing sick animals bothers me. I enjoyed this experience though it’s not a career I want to pursue.”
Lenahan’s view on her day was fine with Morrow. “That’s the whole purpose of going,” he said. “You may not always want to follow your career choice.”
Danny Lopez wants to be a firefighter and is also interested in law enforcement. He spent his day at the Alert Firehouse on Middle Neck Road. “I think that this may be a career that I would like to pursue…I thought I wanted to be a police officer but now I am also interested in a being a firefighter.”
Kaalon Brown would like to go into the entertainment field and spent a day at the Public Access TV studio on Marcus Avenue. “I was able to see the entire production process,” he said.
YongKang Yin wants to work with computers and viewed operations at Canrock in Brookville. “The most interesting part was when they showed me the website that they made and how to work on it or fix it,” he reported. “It is a good place to go to see what real life is like and get more experience.”
Other students in the program are Emma Gutierrez, who’s interested in the beauty salon industry, Kelly Gonzalez, who wants to be a social worker and Arman Farshadmand, who would like to become a pharmacist.
Additional businesses that have participated include North Shore-LIJ Hospital, the Sid Jacobsen Community Center and the Lincar Salon.
Morrow and Campbell, looking toward next year, would like to get even more businesses involved. They can be reached at 516-441-4856.