While 11-year-old Michael Noone doesn’t worry about saving money, he was given a lesson Thursday about the importance of doing so from Jeff Pollard, 29, a financial adviser and member of the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce’s young professional group, TILT.
Pollard and about 20 other TILT members gathered in the home and careers classroom at the Wilbur H. Lynch Literacy Academy for TILT’s first community mentoring program.
TILT — which stands for Today’s Innovative Leaders of Tomorrow — is led by Brennen Parker and Andy Heck, co-owners of Alpin Haus. The group organized a “fishbowl” luncheon with about 25 students from each of the middle school grades. Starting with a bowl containing basic questions to ignite conversation, TILT members gave up nearly 21⁄2 hours of their day to answer student questions and to talk about their jobs, the needed education or training and their personal lives.
The students were selected by their teachers to participate in the afternoon event. Groups of students sat around square tables, ate pizza and listened to advice about careers and practical steps toward attaining their dreams.
Tom Bower, a school counselor, said the event is empowering to students because they see firsthand what they can accomplish with hard work.
“This is great motivation for them,” he said.
Bower said sixth-graders are beginning to talk and learn about careers. As they get older and, particularly in high school, the planning for those futures will begin.
Delaney Crosby, 11, said she liked learning from the adults of the community because she is starting to think about what career she wants to pursue.
“I think I want to do something in medicine, but I also want to explore other opportunities,” she said.
Other students like Michael, said he was less sure, but he might want to be a large animal veterinarian.
“You don’t need to know today what you want, but what you are doing is important by identifying the things you like and the subjects you’re good at,” Pollard told Michael.
The members of TILT were pleased and excited after the event. They said they are excited about the idea of expanding their efforts into the city’s high school and possibly bringing it to other school districts.
“This is a program that we wanted TILT to own,” Parker said.
John Bojnowski, 32, the director of educational programs at Centro Civico, said the day’s activity was a success and he hoped to do it again.
“It is always really important for kids to interact with adults they can look up to and talk to,” he said.
Parker said he was surprised by some of the students with whom he spoke. He said they understand a lot more about the world than he had at their age. He attributed that to the fast pace of information today and their ability to access it.
Tim Becker, 33, a Web site designer said most of the students he spoke with said they didn’t want to live in Amsterdam when they grew up.
“Personally, that was disappointing,” he said. “These are the types of people we need to educate and encourage them to come back and help this community.”
Parker said by showing students that you can live in Montgomery County and still have an exciting job and have fun with your live, maybe more will be encouraged to stay.
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Categories: Schenectady County