First Production Academy Job Shadows: an enormous success


Ms. Christine Magee

Guilford students in hard hats and safety vests learn about the Schwelling Building Supply operations.

   If there is one thing that all students know for sure, it is the classroom environment. With the end of high school seniors’ careers rapidly approaching, seniors will soon be losing that familiarity in exchange for the “real world.” 

   The Production academy is currently piloting a program that is helping to ease the change by creating opportunities for students to participate in  job shadowing. In these shadowings, Production students are being acquainted with possible job opportunities that could change their outlook on the careers they are interested in pursuing after graduation, as well as develop the principal skills that are imperative to their success in the future.  

   Although these job shadowing opportunities may seem like a completely new program, this has been the plan all along, according to​ Ms. Christina Magee, College and Career Academy Coach.

   “Job Shadows are part of the Work Based Learning Continuum that was adopted when we began academies almost a decade ago,” Ms. Magee said. ”Academies were brought to the Rockford Public Schools because local businesses (employers) were concerned that their future workforce (employees) were not as skilled as they should be.“

   The job shadows are addressing the  lack of experience students have by introducing the students to technology they have never been exposed to. The program cooperates with employers, such as General Electrics, to allow students to shadow employees at their respective jobs.

   “They (General Electrics) showed us all sorts of different things,” said Edward Patla, senior. “They showed us how to use CNC Machines and showed us how to properly use their equipment. They allowed us to actually use one of their milling machines,” 

   The learning opportunities are almost endless, as demonstrated by Doug Curry, president of  Stenstrom Excavation & Blacktop Group, who hosted the third group of students. 

   “The students looked at project drawings and a specification book, framed and plumbed walls, changed the hose on a gas pump and saw how the card reader/computer in the gas pump works, operated a hand held global positioning unit and did individual distance measuring, after learning how the global positioning system unit works and, cut and connected different plumbing pipe materials,” said Curry.

   Mr. Curry, as well as the other employees, were very satisfied with the students and their day at Stenstrom, particularly with their eagerness to learn.

   “They had great questions and were each interested in different areas of construction,”said Mr. Curry. ̈We enjoy showing students what we do and the various different construction career opportunities.” 

   These shadows have proven to have made incredible headway with the students, and have impressed future employers as well.  

   With the overwhelming success of the job shadows, students in the other academies  should look forward to similar opportunities in the near future.

   “After job shadow experiences, we have had companies reach out with additional opportunities for our students based on the interactions company leaders are having with our students,” said Ms. Magee.