SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. –The slogan, “Navi ‘Gators’ following the path to excellence,” hangs in the front office of Lakewood High School in Sumter, S.C.; Lakewood educators complement this motto by inviting local career professionals, including members from Team Shaw to participate in the 2nd annual Ninth Grade High School Assessment Program Apr. 16.<br /> <br /> The collaborative effort between educators and career professionals focused on giving students insight about career opportunities the workforce offers, as the goal is to get students to think about what they want to be when they graduate.<br /> Alicia L. Hammett, Lakewood high school’s ninth-grade career specialist, said giving students an early start on having future goals is critical; it gives students something to shoot for from their freshman through senior years.<br /> <br /> “We invited over 20 speakers who we met at our career fair last September; then we went into the community and targeted career professionals from various industries,” said Hammett. “Our goal was to invite diversity; have professionals from various industries stand before our ninth grade students, because sometimes students need that extra inspiration that they can’t get from just reading about a career field.”<br /> <br /> The program started early Tuesday morning in the students’ homeroom classes as career professionals went from room-to-room and gave students tips on how to develop a career plan to be successful.<br /> <br /> The freshmen shared what they wanted to be when they graduate, and the ones who were not sure were inspired by their peers’ goals.<br /> <br /> Doctor, musical engineer and Airman were just a few careers named by the many students that participated.<br /> <br /> The students thought the day was fun and informative. “I liked the information we were told by everyone,” said Breona A. Harris, a Lakewood high school freshmen. “I want to be a doctor and I was really amazed to know that the military helps you pay for your college.”<br /> <br /> Educators were pleased that students embraced the opportunity to meet and speak with career professionals about developing lifelong goals; their main aspiration is to continue to encourage parents to be involved in their children’s career goals.<br /> <br /> “The biggest challenge that a ninth grader faces is accountability and responsibility. In middle school students become aware of their hormones but in high school it’s responsibility -- as they are given more responsibilities they must make more choices and be in the right class on time,” said Brandon K. Middleton, Lakewood High School ninth grade algebra-two teacher.” “So it’s important that the parents target their children’s strengths and weaknesses and speak to them realistically about that, and share with them what mistakes they’ve made or life lessons learned because their children may choose to make different decisions.” <br /> <br /> Middleton also gave the students self assessment tips.<br /> <br /> “Build your vocabulary and stay up-to-date on current events,” Middleton said. “I constantly emphasize to my students how important presentation is because they never know where they will end up. I participated in internships and counseled people. Before teaching, I wanted to work for NIKE growing up, but life had a different plan and I just met the challenge.” <br /> <br /> Developing life-long goals as students advance in their education is a foundation the teachers of Lakewood hope to build upon. <br /> <br /> “We know we’re not going to get through to each and every student, but if we touch one or two students we have made a difference,” said Hammett.<br /> <br /> Third Army/ARCENT soldiers are America’s land force professionals and experts in the Middle East and Central Asia. With a forward headquarters in Kuwait as well as the main HQ collocated with U.S. Air Force Central at Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, S.C., Third Army shapes the regional environment, and is the critical cog to sustaining coalition military operations in the region. Our presence preserves peace, but if prevention fails, Third Army is ready tonight.