Career Day at Enka Middle School

Do you remember being asked what you want to do when you grow up? Maybe you're still answering that question yourself.

If you ask a kindergarten class the age-old question, this question you’ll likely get a multitude of them responding with the answer of firefighters, nurses, and police officers. We are exposed to an ever-increasing number of job paths as we age. However, adults' knowledge of diverse career paths stems from experience and exposure, which is precisely what the Buncombe County Community School, Enka Middle School, is doing.


Ginny Spencer has been in the United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County(UWABC) Community School Coordinator position for several years. Her love for the county, school, and students is palpable in her resource room. The cozy walls of the lamp-lit room are covered in posters listing healthy relationship advice, art projects, student work, and letters of appreciation. Ginny Spencer is deeply committed to the success of  Enka Middle School and ensuring that the students she serves have the best education and opportunity possible. That is why she has helped the administrative staff organize a career day.

Spencer laid out everything she and her staff cohorts had to do in preparation for the Career Day, "From recruiting  24 community volunteers to speak about their individual careers and get the fire and sanitation departments lined up to speak, for starters. Then printing out and organized all the materials so our 600 students could participate in our Reality Store activity. Assigning roles and getting United Way Staff to join our school staff to make the event run smoothly. Finally, creating a schedule would allow all of our classes to transition through each event. It was a big undertaking." She goes on to acknowledge that "I couldn't have done it if folks weren't willing to step up. My MSW intern did a lot of work alongside me, and our Jet Setter students were amazing ambassadors for our speakers and ran stations for our Reality Store. It was an all hands on deck type situation." 

“It's always fun to see folks who have never worked with middle schoolers interact with them. It's a fun and unique age, and it can feel daunting. But it's such a rewarding experience for the students who are often exposed to careers they never even heard of or thought were within their reach. They learn how important the behaviors and patterns they're setting up now are, and how truly impactful school can be for them. The reality store was so fun! Most students had NO clue how hard it was to make ends meet, especially when having children. It's always an eye-opening experience for them.”

- Ginny Spencer, UWABC Community School Coordinator at Enka Middle School

Along with over 30 community volunteers who shared their unique career paths, Ginny Spencer brought in several United Way staff to help with the “Reality Store.” This interactive game, played by the students, exposed them to the realities of monthly bills and budgeting within a set salary. Not only was Enka Middle Scholl’s Career Day about learning about the wide variety of work options available but also to encourage students to begin to think of classes that may be helpful for them to take to follow a specific career path with an informed understanding of the financial aspects that go into life after high school and college, if that is the path they choose.