By Staff Sgt. David OversonMay 24, 2018
HOHENFELS, Germany (May 24, 2018) -- On the fourth Thursday of each April, millions of Americans participate in Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. Though not in April, the Joint Multinational Readiness Center here hosted its annual Job Shadow Days May 15 -- 17.
From kindergarten to high school, kids received a glimpse into their parents' day-to-day jobs. From medical jobs to pilots, children were allowed the opportunity to touch and experience a fair representation of the different Army military occupational skills that are present here at U.S. Army Europe's combat training center.
"The Job Shadow Days provide our students with an authentic look at different career fields, and students are able to make connections from the academic work they do in the classrooms to what they may want to do for a career," said Caryn Currie, Hohenfels Elementary School's principal. "Our students observed math and science concepts in action and learned how important it is to use all the skills they are taught in school to be successful.
"Most kids know their parent, or in some cases both parents, are in the Army, and might have a vague idea what they do, but in many cases, their oblivious to what they really do in the Army."
The relationship between the two schools at Hohenfels and the Army community can be described as a true partnership when considering the scale of the event, which spanned three days and provided every student in preschool through grade 12, and their teachers, the opportunity to get up close to Soldiers and their equipment.
The event took approximately eight months to plan and schedule, according to Capt. John Naelgas, JMRC's deputy chief of training, and the action officer of the event. Naelgas wanted to be sure the event was beneficial to both groups.
"During the planning phase, I ensured that each station's execution was vetted by both JMRC and school officials to get perspectives from both ends of the spectrum," said Naelgas. "The end result became very apparent during the execution phase, because the children were very involved and it showed in their faces that they were having a blast in all of the stations that they went through."
While kindergarteners were more interested in getting their faces painted with camo sticks and learning how to properly salute, the older middle school and high school kids took to heart the technical aspects of today's Army.
UH-72 Lakota Light Utility Helicopters, bomb disposal robots, small unmanned aircraft systems and the full gamut of small arms were displayed.
"Job Shadow Days provided the kids with a more accurate picture of what their parents do in the military," added Naelgas. "Although they know that their parents are Soldiers, experiencing some of the activities that Soldiers do on a daily basis helped them understand the reason why their parents are gone sometimes for long periods of time.
"It also allowed them to be exposed to the critical mathematical and scientific aspects of soldiering, like the concepts behind how FM radios operate, how artillery fire is utilized, how night vision devices work, and how the human body is treated for life-threatening injuries, which definitely broadened their knowledge outside of a classroom environment. I also believe the Job Shadow Day activities helped to plant positive seeds in the minds of children who are considering a military future since it showed the fun aspects of soldiering."
The event required the efforts of both U.S. Army and school officials, ensuring they have a better understanding of how each other operates.
"I have never seen any other community provide such an outstanding Job Shadow Day for students," added Currie. "It was fun to see the students recognize familiar faces in their community, and I think the Soldiers had a wonderful time too teaching the students about their jobs. In addition, this partnership allows us as a school to learn more about the training mission here in Hohenfels, which helps us understand our students' and families' needs better. By networking with our military community partners, we can bring resources into the classrooms giving us authentic and real world experiences for students. This was definitely a win-win for us all!"