One way to ensure a student’s future success outside of the classroom is to open their eyes to the countless possibilities of the world around them. St. Stanislaus Catholic School understands this and hosted a Career Day on January 31 for their students to have the opportunity to connect with professionals from a range of companies and organizations here in the Region.
“A great education provides choice,” said St. Stanislaus Principal Angelica Foy. “Today is about showing the students the many choices they have. Between both traditional choices and non-traditional choices, we had everything represented today for our students.”
Speakers from various occupations were welcomed into the Catholic school’s classrooms to educate students about their jobs and field questions. From police chiefs and firefighters to authors and nuns, many walks of life were represented during Career Day. Some presenters, such as author and CEO of Maldina Publishing, Monique Maldonado, were even St. Stanislaus graduates themselves.
“I'm really happy that this was one of the first presentations that I've done since the publishing of ‘The Looking List,’” said Maldonado. “These are my roots, and these are important stories and topics to mention. It's always important to remember where you come from and how your journey started.”
Maldonado attended St. Stanislaus for two years during seventh and eighth grade, and the school and the opportunities provided by it changed the trajectory of her life. She believes it’s important to begin showing students what people just like them can accomplish in life, and it’s important to do so during their formative years. She’s not alone in these beliefs.
Anita Camacho, who is currently in her first year of teaching at the school, is also a graduate of St. Stanislaus and believes that the Career Day event is helpful in setting students up for success.
“It shows them a glimpse into the world outside of school and what they can accomplish and do if they stay focused and work hard,” said Camacho. “I went to St. Stanislaus, and I remember Career Day and Catholic Schools Week. Those are things I've never forgotten. Showing them these opportunities is extremely important.”
Unlike a career fair, the St. Stanislaus Career Day brings the speakers into the classrooms, allowing for a more intimate environment that works well with St. Stanislaus’ family approach to education.
“We're a small school, so we're close knit,” said Foy. “We like to emphasize that we're a family here. We're Christ-centered, and we try to foster that and have good relationships with our students. The visitors today are going into the classrooms and engaging with our students in environments they’re comfortable learning in. In this way, their presentations can be geared towards different age levels - they can talk one way to the second graders versus a different way to the seventh graders. In comparison to having a school-wide assembly, it's just a little bit more authentic for the students.”
Many of the speakers were invited by the teachers and staff members of St. Stanislaus in order to give students an accurate depiction of their surrounding community, which played a significant role in the success of the Career Day.
“All of our teachers are fantastic. They reached out to people within their networks to see who was available to come in,” Foy said. “Everybody that we asked in our community said yes, so I think that's another part of it: a really supportive community around us who wants to come into our school and wants to support our students. We have great students here too. They are curious, they love to learn, and they hold themselves accountable.”
Big Shoulders Fund, a local nonprofit charity that provides ongoing support to St. Stanislaus School, its staff and students, also attended the Career Day. Dr. Mia Jones, Assistant Director of Academic and Instructional Coaching at Big Shoulders Fund, was on hand to read one of the children’s books she authored, and talk to students about her decades-long career in education.
“Big Shoulders Fund has supported our school tremendously,” said Foy. “They are our biggest cheerleaders. Anytime we say, ‘Hey, we’ve got this idea,’ or, ‘We're thinking about doing this,’ they are 100% on board. They take the nugget that we have, help us grow and expand it, and they help us make things better for our students.”
The Career Day at St. Stanislaus was put on hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic, but now that it’s back in action, the speakers are excited for the future.
“I hope that they continue to bring people here from the Region that are doing great things because I feel like there's tons of us,” said Maldonado. “Every year, I just learn more and more about so many of us that came out of East Chicago that are doing so many great things around the world.”
“I think that this is half an hour of somebody's day, but it's a lifelong impact on our students,” said Foy.
To learn more about St. Stanislaus School, visit its website.