This year, Mr. Keene, an AHS English teacher, has started an enrichment program during H-Block where parent volunteers visit students to talk about their professions. Students can sign up for these presentations, which occur every H3 in room 209, during H1.

The upcoming speaker is Laura Gregory on Thursday, Jan. 11. Gregory is a Civil Litigation Lawyer who works for the Bad Faith Insurance Coverage Company. Heather Howard, a Labor and Postpartum Doula who works with women during and after pregnancy, was originally scheduled to speak Dec. 12; however, she unfortunately had to reschedule for a later date that has not been determined yet.

Keene said he came up with the idea of having speakers come in on a regular basis last year as a project for a graduate program that he was completing. The project required a program that was devised to “increase parent and community involvement with the school,” said Keene. “Something related to common interests and practical knowledge would be the most authentic, which led me to decide to bring in parent volunteers.”

He worked alongside Ms. Brown, Mrs. de Kelly, two students, and two parents to plan pilot presentations that were displayed last spring. The presentations, along with the pilot presentations, include speakers from the Parent Advisory Council (PAC), who speak about their life, education, and career journeys. Keene stated that he is thinking about incorporating other people from the community besides parents in the future.

There are many things that Keene is hoping to accomplish through these H-Block speakers. He is hoping that students will gain “practical information about what an actual day might entail for a given career, including both the job itself and the work/life balance it affords.” In addition, he said he is hoping that the students who come to these presentations will “feel more connected to members of the community and parents with which they might not typically interact.” Keene believes that “interacting with adults around mutual areas of interest builds confidence and knowledge.”

On Nov. 28, Cynthia Bogatka, a medical speech and language pathologist, gave a presentation during H-Block. From a young age, she always knew that she wanted to be in a profession that specializes with the brain. When she was in 10th grade, Bogatka saw a commercial for speech therapy, which inspired her to pursue that profession. Throughout her career, Bogatka had many opportunities which helped her so she “grew as a person, grew in [her] thought process, [and] grew socially and emotionally.”

Sophomore Kinsey Ogden attended Bogatka’s presentation. She enjoyed the presentation and said, “[I] learned a lot more about their occupation, so if I ever decided to go into that field in the future, I’ll have some understanding of what it’s about.” Ogden also learned “that actually working in your occupation is completely different from learning about it because none of the cases you face are ever in the textbook.”

Keene has received positive feedback from students about the speakers. Around 20 students attend each presentation, with some of them going more than once. “So far, students have enjoyed the presentations,” said Keene. “They have found the career information informative, and in particular have indicated that being able to ask questions of the presenters has been very helpful.”  

Ogden believes that these speakers should continue because they “help a student with real-life experiences with any major they may pursue in the future. Plus, it can also introduce someone to a job that they might not have known existed before the presentation. It can definitely benefit everyone.”

By Julianna Barbaro