Rock Hill teachers job shadow in work fields they teach at school
Science teacher Rita Akley spent this week doing something her students are encouraged to do: Job shadowing to learn how science lessons are used in the workplace.
Akley, who job shadowed in the York County Sheriff’s Office’s forensic laboratories, is one of 20 Rock Hill teachers who spent the week learning how the lessons they teach are applied in different jobs.
Other Rock Hill teachers are job shadowing in fields that include architecture and engineering, financial services, geographic information systems, water treatment and surveying. Job shadow sites include York and Chester county employers and some in Charlotte.
Akley, who teaches forensics and physical science at Northwestern High School, observed and did experiments in the sheriff’s office’s DNA investigations area and in forensics laboratories for drug testing, ballistics and crime scenes.
“I want to bring a more authentic experience to students,” Akley said. “I want students to know what’s out there, especially here in York County. There’s a lot here that they don’t know about.”
Akley did job shadowing in the forensic labs with another teacher, Aimee Tracy, who teaches seventh-grade science at Saluda Trail Middle School. Tracy said DNA is part of her science curriculum.
“Being able to see what people do in this field, I can explain it better,” Tracy said.
Akley and Tracy did some tests on their own DNA to learn how the sheriff’s office uses DNA in its crime investigations, said Cristy Kissel, supervisor of the sheriff’s DNA lab, opened in 2014.
Akley and Tracy said they also learned how the office tests and identifies illegal substances in its drug testing lab. And they learned how sheriff’s investigators study factors such as a bullet’s trajectory, the path of a flying object, in its ballistics lab.
Akley said she was interested to learn how much the process of forensics testing has advanced since her college days, when DNA testing was not available. “To see how the technology has enhanced this process is amazing,” she said.
The Rock Hill school job shadowing program for teachers is a local collaborative effort with a grant funded through Comporium’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) foundation, said district spokesman Mychal Frost. He said some employers that were not able to participate in this week’s job shadowing have expressed an interest in doing so in the future.
Frost said the job shadowing is letting teachers “gain firsthand experience in career fields we are preparing students for in our classrooms. From architecture to forensics and beyond, our teachers are learning lessons that will greatly improve their classroom instruction.”
Teachers said they were invited to participate in the program, and then were assigned job shadow opportunities. The participants included math and science teachers from fifth grade through high school.
Akley said she and other teachers will take what they learned back to their classrooms, where they will use it to create a lesson for students. She said the experience will help her show students why they need to learn science and math and how they can use it.
“Why do I need to learn this?” she said, is a common question asked by students. Askley said she now can answer that: “Because here’s what you can do here in York County.”
Jennifer Becknell: 803-329-4077