How to host a Career Fair

office-2065542_960_720By Sabrina Bartels

Every year, my school hosts a career fair for our 8th grade students. Around 30 individuals coming from a wide variety of careers take time out of their busy days and spend time in our school gymnasium, talking to students about their careers and what to expect for high school and beyond. It is an exhausting process every year, and one that leads to a lot of stress and frustration. And yet, every year, the excitement on our students’ faces puts everything into perspective. Despite all the tears and anxiety (on my part,) it always turns out pretty well, and our students learn some valuable lessons.

If you are interested in starting a career fair at your school, here are some tips and tricks that I’ve learned throughout the years!

  1. Start recruiting early. It sounds ridiculous, but we are calling people months in advance to see if they are available for the career fair. People’s schedules fill up fast, and the sooner someone is able to let work know that they are taking a day off, the better. This also allows you more time to find people for each career. It’s always going to be hard finding someone in the medical field, since so many offices book out appointments several months out.
  2. Decide on what style works best for you. What we do at my school may not work for everyone, but it definitely works for us. We used to schedule students for three “mini-classes” and they went to those classes and listened to the presenter talk for 20 minutes. Just last year, we switched to an arena style career fair, where students are able to roam the gymnasium and speak to whomever they wish. While we still set a time limit (45 minutes,) we found that students were much more engaged if they could visit with multiple individuals about their careers. This also led to less chaos if a presenter called in sick, or was unable to attend that day.
  3. Represent as many career clusters as you can. This year, we have all 16 career clusters represented by different individuals from a wide variety of careers. You never know when a career that isn’t as “popular” or “typical” might catch a student’s interest!
  4. Displays are key. We encourage our presenters to bring some sort of interactive display for our students to view. And what a turnout we had last year! A group of tile setters came in with a wall that students could place tiles on using their equipment and grout. A warden brought in animal pelts that the students could touch. A veterinarian brought in her dog, and taught students how to check his ears. The sky’s the limit! And the students were talking about all of these experiences for hours, days, and even months after!
  5. Set a timeline and stick with it. Our team tries to do as much as we can in advance. We are doing table layouts and name tags as soon as we have presenters confirmed. While there are some things that you won’t be able to do until the day before, having things done early will help alleviate a lot of the stress. Along this line, make sure you stick with the timeline you set!
  6. Send out thank-you notes after. We send out an email thanking all of our presenters for their time, in addition to a handwritten thank you note. We are lucky to have so many different people from all over the Milwaukee area who volunteer their time to visit with our kids, so we want to make sure they know how much we appreciate it!
  7. Ask for business cards, or interest in next year’s career fair. We’ve been doing the career fair for several years now, and each year, we make sure to record everyone’s name, business, and either email or phone number. This helps us grow our career fair each year, while also helping us maintain that connection with the individual. Many of the presenters enjoy the feedback we receive from students!

Hope in Education

 Last summer, Carrie Sikich participated in the College of Education’s first faculty-led study abroad trip to Peru. While the weather here in Milwaukee is different than it was last June in Peru, the lessons learned still apply. As 2017 is coming to a close, we’re taking a look back at this year’s adventures.


By Carrie Sikich

On one of our final days in Cusco, we visited a public school in the area. At the school, it was explained to us that a huge school priority is to incite cultural pride in the students. Many of the students are ashamed of their indigenous ancestry because it means discrimination against them for the rest of their lives. We were told that, no matter how educated these students become or how many languages they learn, they will always be more discriminated against than their white counterparts.  This statement struck a chord in me, as it did with the other people in my group, I believe. It struck me because of 1) the seemingly final nature of it and 2) the direct parallels with discrimination against minority students in the United States.

Teachers need to provide a critical hope that helps students to flourish, even in the worst of circumstances.

Later on in seminar, we spoke about what we had heard at the school. It was brought up that, after visiting the school, it became apparent that teachers of students who will always be discriminated against need to keep their expectations for those students’ futures real. What I brought up in response, but had a hard time putting into the right words, is that, although realistic expectations are important, this mentality often times leads teachers to become a part of the system that is oppressing the students for whom they fight so hard. I still didn’t know exactly what I was trying to say in that moment, until I read the final readings for this class. The Duncan-Andrade article, “Hope Required When Growing Roses in Concrete,” set off a lightbulb in my head. Duncan-Andrade put into words exactly what I was trying to say and exactly how I felt after leaving that school in Cusco. He talks about multiple kinds of hope in education; what I meant to say that day in Cusco is that, as educators, it is imperative that we empower our students with the right kind of hope: a hope that is realistic yet helps them to rise above and dismantle the oppressive system, not a hope that helps us become a part of that system.

IMG_0503 (1)Duncan-Andrade brings up three types of detrimental hopes: “hokey hope, mythical hope, and hope deferred.” “Hokey hope” is the kind hope that teachers give their students when they present them with the “bootstrap theory.” This theory is that anyone can get ahead if they work hard enough, and it completely ignores political and socioeconomic systems that oppress minorities. “Mythical hope” is the post-Obama administration, racism-is-dead, philosophy that once again undermines the struggles and oppression that people deal with every day. The final hope, “hope deferred,” I believe is the most common from what I have seen amongst teachers. It’s a belief that the system is unjust but that it is way too far out of teachers’ control to help students who are oppressed by this system. In my own understanding, and from what I saw in Cusco, when teachers at the school were talking about keeping their expectations real, they meant avoiding filling students’ heads with these kinds of hope. Hokey hope and mythical hope completely undermine what students who are discriminated against and whose families are discriminated against are going through. Teachers who teach these kinds of hopes ignore the reality of their students’ circumstances, and therefore provide false hope.

IMG_0563 (1)I think the error that many people in the field of education make is that, in order to avoid filling students with these kinds of false hope, they don’t include hope in the classroom environment at all. Duncan-Andrade provided me with a term for the kind of hope we should keep in our classrooms: critical hope. As he puts it, critical hope “demands a committed and active struggle against the evidence in order to change the deadly tides of wealth inequality, group xenophobia, and personal despair.” It is providing students with tools to act upon injustice, not to ignore reality. It is what I like to think of as an active hope, not a dreamy hope. I saw a lot of this kind of hope promoted in the schools we saw in Peru. We saw so many schools that were dedicated to teaching their students about their own unalienable human rights. In the Andes in particular, we saw schools that were attempting to close the gender gap in education and promote higher education for all. The school in Cusco wanted to fill their students with cultural pride so that instead of leaving, they grew up to make their own community a better place. This, I believe, is critical hope. It is hope for a better future someday, but it also the acknowledgement that making a better future someday begins today with solid action.

So going back to that day in seminar, here is what I would have said: yes, it is important to keep our expectations for our students and their circumstances real. We cannot fill them with hokey hope or hope that the discrimination against them will magically disappear once they graduate. However, if we as educators give up on our students’ futures, we are oppressing them as much the rest of the world is. We still need to fill them with hope, a hope that empowers them and enables us to stand with them in solidarity. Teachers need to provide a critical hope that helps students to flourish, even in the worst of circumstances. Duncan-Andrade talks about the pain that students feel and about not ignoring it, but acknowledging it as necessary to grow and to change the world as it is today. This what I saw in Peru and what I hope to take with me to Milwaukee, a place where so many students are told that they will not succeed by the very people whose job it is to help them. I wish to bring critical hope to my classroom so that my students are proud of who they are and know that they can make a concrete change for the better.

Flashback to Peru

IMG_4375Last summer, Sara Douvalakis and six other College of Education students participated in the College’s first faculty-led study abroad trip to Peru. Led by Drs. Melissa Gibson and Jeff LaBelle, S.J., the students wrote about their experience. For this #ThrowbackThursday, we aren’t going too far back in time– just to May 2017!
My name is Sara and I am a senior at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I am originally from a suburb of Chicago, and in the fall I will be a senior in the College of Ed with a double major in Psychology and Elementary Education. My hobbies include cooking, online shopping, grabbing coffee with friends, and of course eating!

I am traveling to Peru as part of a first time study abroad program  for education majors. This is the first time that the College of Education at MU has offered a study abroad program. While in Peru, I will be taking two courses for a total of 6 credits; the courses focus on Critical Issues in Education and Philosophy of Education. The courses will examine the philosophical underpinnings of various educational approaches in the US and Peru, as well as the key issues, policies, and practices that are part of global debate about what constitutes a high quality and equitable education.

Day 1:
After two long flights from Chicago to Panama City and then to Lima Peru, we finally made it. Although my legs felt like Jell-O from sitting for almost nine hours in the plane, all of my luggage arrived and I am forever grateful for that. Phew! After weaving through late night Peruvian traffic, we arrived at our host family’s home. The home belongs to a family of four; MariLuz, her husband, Jose (our tour guide) and his sister Carla, who is currently in Columbia.

In the morning we were served fresh rolls and jelly for breakfast. Once our tummies were full, we headed out for our first of many walking tours. Our host brother, Jose, took us through the neighborhoods to the Jesuit University that is hosting us. We spent the day meeting locals, students, and other education students at Universidad Antonio Ruiz De Montoya (UARM). We walked around the beautiful outdoor campus, which was bustling with students from all over Peru.

During some presentations shown to us by administrators from UARM, we listened to a panel of students and professors who introduced us to some of the issues in education. The thing that most caught my attention was the fact that education is very centralized in Lima. Many people in the country do not have access to education like we do in the United States. Many of the people in the jungle and in the mountains are not able to travel hours a day for access to education. During the panel, there was a student who received the Beca (scholarship) 18, which is for students in very high poverty areas, and it provides them the opportunity to go to college on a full ride. This particular student was from the mountains of Peru without the opportunity to go to college; however, with this scholarship she is able to attend school for four years for absolutely no cost. While she was speaking it was clear that she had come great lengths to travel to the city of Lima and attend college in her non-native language. Stories like this are what motivate and excite me to be a teacher.

Once the presentations were over, Jose picked us back up at UARM, and we were off to another tour. This time he led us through the neighborhood/district, which we are staying in called Jesus Maria. Lima is split into districts and neighborhoods each with historical names. The streets are lined with panaderías and cevicherías. As well as shoe stores, hair dressers and nail salons (so many nail salons). We then made our way to the plaza of Jesus Maria where locals gather around in the town square. After a quick stop for ice cream, we made our way back to the house where we were served a traditional Peruvian dinner of garlic rice and meat stew with potatoes.

Overall today was a whirlwind. I quickly learned that my Spanish is nowhere near where I thought it was and that winter in Peru is actually nicer than most days in Milwaukee. It is past 10 pm here and tomorrow breakfast is being served at 6 am…. yikes!

Day 2:
Day two began with our alarm going off at 5:30 am (thank goodness for Peruvian coffee). After a sit down breakfast of freshly blended jugo de papaya y piña and pan we were off to MLK Socio Deportivo School to play futból with local children who live in the district of EL Agustino. This is one of the 49 districts of Lima; it was filled with abundant markets and hustle and bustle at every corner. MLK is a program founded by ex-gang members who are trying to enrich the community and provide opportunities for children growing up in this district. Although this is one of the poorer districts, it was my favorite location so far. Right away, I noticed friendly locals welcoming us, and beautifully colored homes lining the streets. Wild dogs and cats joined us on our walks through the neighborhoods, and even on the futból field.


The children of el Agustino made us feel welcome right away and were so curious about different English words and toys that we have in America. The boys were fascinated with my light eyes and blonde hair, since many Peruvians have darker hair and eyes. We were split into soccer teams and played short scrimmages against each other. I even scored a goal! Through this activity the children are taught sportsmanship, respect, and conflict/resolution. MLK Socio Deportivo School is working with the community to bring families and children together in a positive way.

IMG_4351Now for the best part of the day…lunch! The lunch we were served today was a lunch for the gods, no joke. We had fresh ceviche (which I wanted to take home in my backpack), fried fish, rice with seafood and different corn salads. El Agustino is like no place I have ever been, and I was absolutely fascinated with all of the sights before me. I could have walked up and down those streets forever.

After a long and nauseating car ride in Peruvian traffic, we went back to the host university for our first official seminar. Here we talked about our readings, reflected on our first impressions, and talked about the big ideas for our courses (don’t forget I am here for school after all). And now here I am, in the living room of my homestay writing my first blog ever with my six amigas. Soon dinner will be served to us by MariLuz, and we will finish up our very first blog posts for all the world to enjoy (or mostly my mom). I am so blessed to be here and have loved every minute; although my body and brain are exhausted, I cannot wait to wake up the next morning and have a new set of incredible experiences.


Today’s lessons:

  • “Children are seeds, who have the potential to grow into beautiful flowers and teachers are the sunlight that can get them there” –Rodrigo from the UARM Student panel
  • Do NOT flush toilet paper. It must be thrown into the trash…yeah, it is an adjustment.
  • Winter in Peru is interesting. Wear layers because one minute you are sweating and another minute you are “freezing.”

Is Your Compassion Fatigued?

13-heart-shape1By Elizabeth Jorgensen

As graduation nears, student excuses amass, skipping increases and academics succumb to prom plans and dorm decorating. The school days drag and the problems compound. And when students want exceptions or extensions, I’m less likely to budge. But a few weeks ago, I realized my post-spring break impatience has a name—and, it turns out, seniors aren’t to blame.

As I sat in Arrowhead’s back-to-school teacher in-service, our school’s Director of Student Services discussed Compassion Fatigue. According to the Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project, “Day in, day out, workers struggle to function in caregiving environments that constantly present heart wrenching, emotional challenges. Affecting positive change in society, a mission so vital to those passionate about caring for others, is perceived as elusive, if not impossible. This painful reality, coupled with first-hand knowledge of society’s flagrant disregard for the safety and well-being of the feeble and frail, takes its toll on everyone from full time employees to part time volunteers. Eventually, negative attitudes prevail.” That’s it! That’s what happens to me, I thought.

The Director of Student Services recommended battling Compassion Fatigue with mindfulness, meditation and yoga. He recommended proper exercise, nutrition and sleep. He also reminded my school’s staff of the importance of self-reflection and supportive relationships.

He warned that Compassion Fatigue could lead to burnout, emotional exhaustion and negative feelings. I wondered how the increased challenges teachers face impact Compassion Fatigue. I also wondered how pervasive this feeling (in teachers and in our school)—especially considering he started the school year with it.

Then, a few weeks later, DPI sent an email. The email stated that “A DPI-ConnectEd subscriber requested help for ‘the emotions and stress that teachers go through,’ which are ‘getting dangerously’ out of balance for many educators. ‘I am concerned that these incredible, dedicated people will step away from teaching. Some of them already have.’” DPI recommended self-care, awareness, balance, connections, and “small, manageable steps.” DPI, like my district, provided resources, “as part of the self-care module, including a step-by-step guide for developing a plan and a sample self-care plan.”

For me, knowing I’m not alone—and being able to identify and name my feelings—makes me feel better. This year, I’m prepared for what feelings might come, especially as second semester nears. I’m planning to take DPI’s suggestion and follow the ABCD’s of self-care: awareness, balance, connections and develop a plan. I hired a personal trainer, I’m making time for myself, and I joined professional organizations (including Marquette University’s College of Education’s Alumni Board).

Although there’s no quick-fix cure to Compassion Fatigue, I’m hoping my patience and compassion will increase this spring. And if (or when) Compassion Fatigue sets in, I know I’m not alone and I know what I can do to minimize its impact.


Giving Thanks.


Marquette in Milwaukee

podcast-microphone-1458764347DK7Earlier this month, Dr. Bill Henk, Dean of the College of Education, and regular Marquette Educator blogger, Sabrina Bartels, participated in the second episode of “Marquette in Milwaukee.” The podcast helmed by Marquette University President Michael Lovell is exploring the ways in which we interact with our community.

The episode entitled “Education in Milwaukee” honed in on what Marquette University can do in a city where the educational needs are many. Joining Dr. Lovell, Dean Henk, and Sabrina was Jonathan Dunn of Milwaukee Succeeds. In the space of one short hour, the conversation not only illuminated some of the issues facing P-12 students today but also explored how Marquette–and particularly the College of Education–can affect change today, tomorrow, and in the schools years to come.

To listen to the full episode and to subscribe to the podcast, check Marquette University out on SoundCloud today.

End of Quarter Reflection Benefits Students—and Teacher


By Elizabeth Jorgensen

The end of first quarter at Arrowhead Union High School was Friday, November 3. On this day, I asked my students to reflect on the progress they’ve made during the first nine weeks of school.

Students started by re-reading their six major pieces of writing. Then, they wrote a letter to me. I provided the following questions as guidance:

  • How have you grown as a writer/person because of this class?
  • What assignments pushed you?
  • What have you learned about yourself?
  • What did you learn about writing?
  • If you had to do first quarter over, what would you do differently?
  • How has my feedback impacted your writing or writing process?
  • In which ways have you applied the concepts of this class to other classes?
  • Which pieces are you most proud of?
  • What was your biggest struggle?
  • How does the writing in creative writing compare to the writing you do in other classes?
  • What did you wish you had the opportunity to do, but didn’t? What do you hope we work on during second quarter?
  • How did your expectations of creative writing compare to the course so far?

Not only did students reflect on their progress, but they also provided me with powerful, valuable feedback. Three common themes permeated the letters: teacher feedback, personal growth and the writing process (specifically composing multiple drafts). I was shocked by many of the responses. I had no idea the impact my feedback had on my students. With 180 students each semester, too often we don’t get the time to connect one-on-one. However, these letters revealed how each student felt about the course, their progress and my teaching.

I hope you consider asking your students to spend time reflecting, not only for them, but for your insight into them and their learning. Here are excerpts from my students’ reflections:

“I think that this class has improved my writing entirely and has made me both a stronger writer and a person. A significant part of my improvement came from your end, as my teacher, commenting on my work and helping me to improve each and every piece to perfect it any way possible. I think that every teacher should provide feedback to their students like you do because it is extremely helpful and has taught me how to write more efficiently.”

“The advice you have given me and even the compliments on my writing has allowed me to discover how much I love to write. I am still going through a lot of things personally including my adventure in discovering who I am. I have shared multiple pieces we have written in class with my therapist and she used the word catharsis to describe what writing has done for me. This was a powerful moment for me as a person because in my mind all I was doing was doing what was asked of me, when in reality it was much more than that. I realize now that having an outlet that wasn’t self-destructive gave me opportunity to feel proud of how I was coping with a situation rather than regretting a behavior I normally would use to cope with stress or anxiety.”

“Before this class, I never proofread my work and I would never compose multiple drafts for a single piece of work. This class has shown me the importance of proofreading and creating more than one draft. All of pieces have been edited, proofread, and peer edited. For me personally, I found that getting feedback and having someone edit my work helped me revise parts in my work that I might have overlooked otherwise. These edits made me realize how importing editing is in the process of writing.”

“Writing in this class is different than other composition classes I have taken. In past classes, we have wrote just essays and focused on the topic and didn’t dig deeper into the meaning of it. In creative writing, we dig deeper into the origin of a writing where it came from. It helps me have a better understanding of the work I’m composing. This class more than other composition classes has help me improve my writing…This class is challenging but in a good way. If this class was super easy then I don’t think I would take away as much. I like how you comment on our papers very quickly. No teachers have done that before for me and it really helps me see from a different point of what a certain piece of writing needs.”

“Creative writing does not compare to the other writing classes I have taken. In the other classes you are just expected to write papers. In creative writing, we learn more about the type of writing and we go further into detail about the piece. I have learned more in creative writing than in any other writing class. Creative writing is one of the best classes I have taken because I have become a better writer and learned new techniques to tighten up my writing.”

“The revisions are the most helpful part to me in this writing process…Writing my other essays, teachers gave me feedback after I already turned in the paper. When the teachers passed my paper back, I saw my grade and didn’t try to understand why I received that grade. This is why the comments during the writing process make me think how I can improve in this piece. In the long run, I will become a better writer because I will try not to make these same mistakes again. These comments helped me see many problems in my writing that I don’t see.”

“Getting constant feedback from you on everything that we write I am sure takes a good chunk of your time but I am thankful you do it because it definitely helps me going back into a piece multiple times and being able to change things and just make the piece better. I feel like you actually care about us and our writing and want to make us better which is not a feeling that I can say I get from every teacher.”

“I’ll admit, before this class, I was the person who would always type their essays the day of, rushing through what I now realize is a process of contemplation, reflection, and constant editing until a state of perfection (or however close one can get) could be reached. However, I feel that with each project I learn to respect that process even more, and have actually begun to value my writing, and to feel an obligation to take care of it, so I actually can feel proud of it.”

“[This class] has helped improve skills that you wouldn’t normally associate with writing such as problem solving, thinking out of the box, self-reflection and time management. These skills can relate to many different activities besides writing as well as assisting me in being able to be clear and concise in my work. Even if you don’t want to be a writer, I would recommend this class because of the different forms of self-improvement it can offer. This class has met my expectations in being able to make me feel like a better writer.”

“Your philosophy that writing is an art form and not a specific science really resonated with me. I also believed that before this class, my writing could not have gotten any better, but without a doubt, it has improved more than I could have imagined.”

“The writing in this class has challenged me the most, by far, than any other class I have taken. I thank you for showing me how better of a writer I can be.”


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