More than 100 APS middle and high school students filed into committee room two at Atlanta City Hall last week to discuss problems in the city and issues Atlanta residents want resolved. But the students were not there to vent, they were there to learn. City leaders mentored APS students as part of National Job Shadow Day, an annual event that occurs on Groundhog Day every year (the “shadow” is a play on words).
The APS K-12 College and Career Readiness Department coordinates Job Shadow Day for the district every year to help students make more informed decisions about their careers and help guide their future studies. This year’s theme was “Government in Action,” so the department thought it fitting for students to visit the City of Atlanta’s headquarters, Atlanta City Hall. In addition to touring the facility, participants had a chance to learn about everything necessary to keep the city running smoothly.
“So what happens is, city council members go to committee room two to listen to the people vent about what needs to be fixed in the city. Then the council members take it to chambers to vote on,” explained Price Middle School student, Keith Brown. Although Brown excels in biology and wants to become a doctor, he said he enjoyed learning about who does what at City Hall, and what Atlantans have to do to get things done in the city.
“It’s a very intricate process—very interesting,” said the eighth grader. Brown would like to return to City Hall one day to meet Mayor Reed, and ask him for a letter of recommendation for college. “It’s never too early,” he pointed out.
The students also split up to spend time with city employees for a behind the scenes look at the numerous career opportunities in local government. The mayor’s office, city council, aviation, finance, law and government, risk management and parks and recreation were just some of the departments that offered behind the scenes exposure to the students.
Price students, Asontiwah Cain, Yavia Simmons and Asia Bangle were most excited about the time they spent with city councilwoman, Keisha Lance Bottoms. Cain, who now wants a career in local government stated, “Ms. Keisha influenced my decision to go into city government.” Aside from being nice and helpful, Cain said Bottoms “just made her job sound so good.” All three girls agreed that Bottoms “does it all like superwoman,” and after hearing her describe how she juggles her career with, motherhood, service to others and the city council they want to become superwomen too.
Amber Davis, Sandra Porter and Jazmyne Love—all seniors at South Atlanta—were also dreaming big after talking to Bottoms. As students at South Atlanta’s School of Health and Medical Science, the girls have longed to work in healthcare since ninth grade. But the job shadow experience motivated the girls to conjure up scenarios that would allow them to combine healthcare with other fields.
“Keisha Lance Bottoms majored in journalism and went to law school,” said Amber Davis, who not only wants to open a daycare center, but wants to also major in business and open centers around the globe. “She’s been a reporter, and a lawyer and on the city council. So I know that I don’t have to limit myself to one thing—I can do so many things.”
Sandra Porter wants to study biology in college, but is now considering studying journalism also as part of a double major. Porter believes that once she becomes a healthcare provider, a journalism background will allow her to have a voice to promote herself and the things she believes in.
Bottoms—an APS graduate—said she was honored to share her experiences with the students, and she hopes it confirmed that with a good education all things are possible.
“I was so impressed with their enthusiastic participation in today’s program,” she stated. “It highlights the phenomenal job APS is doing in preparing our kids for the future.”