Vanguard School Career Fair Inspires Students to Forge Their Own Career Paths
by James Coulter
Danielle Williams has been dancing since age 3. She feels her love was placed in her heart by God. She has since taken up the call and pursued a career as a dance instructor.
“I fell in love at a young age,” she said. “It has always been something placed on my heart to do. I feel most relaxed and myself when I dance.”
Williams is the owner of Leap For Joy, a dance studio in Lake Wales that offers dance instruction to elementary school students. Her comprehensive program offers a Christian therapeutic curriculum, incorporating scripture and prayer into her instruction.
She opened her business more than a year ago and set up everything within it herself, from laying tiles to hanging curtains. She even consulted online video tutorials to help her through the process. The result was a dance studio that she created and opened herself.
On Wednesday, she attended the career fair at Vanguard School along with 20 other local businesses. More than simply inspiring children to take up dancing or even pursue a career as a dance instructor, she wanted to inspire students to become entrepreneurs and start their own businesses as she did.
“I think it is an excellent thing that Vanguard is here doing,” Williams said. “I love how they are exposing our youth to different pathways they can take. A college or university may not be the best fit for everyone, so I love how these children are being exposed to trades and entrepreneurs and different businesses.”
Vanguard School hosted its annual career fair on Wednesday. Representatives from more than 20 local businesses, law enforcement and military agencies, and medical professionalsset up booths to share information about their professions to middle and high school students. Participating businesses included Nucor Industrial, Florida Natural, and Ruben’s Five Star Academy.
More than simply introducing their students to potential local career opportunities, the fair also served to introduce them to educational options for vocational and technical training aside from traditional four-year education.
“College is not for everybody and that is okay, but we want you to have a plan and idea of what is out there for you to be a productive member of society and the workforce,” said Amanda Rogers, College and Career Advisor at Vanguard School forseven years. “A lot of our kids, they may not be the traditional college-bound students, but we want to show them there are many options for them out there.”
Vanguard School has hosted its career fair at least once or twice a year; however, the current COVID-19 crisis has placed itssemi-annual event on hold for the last few years. This year, they were able to accommodate their middle and high school students. The fair not only supports its students and their educational endeavors but also helps show support for local businesses.
“I think it is good for kids to get real-world experience and meet local businesses and community members,” she said. “I just want the kids to enjoy it and take something away for them, maybe they will find a progression or career path that will interest them and it will start a conversation with them and their parents. Kids change their minds year to year. I changed my mind three times in college. So just let them see what is out there.”
Keith Slaght of Dyer Chevrolet Lake Wales attended to discuss his car dealership business and the career opportunities it provides. As these children represent the future, he felt it imperative to encourage them to follow whatever career path the future had for them, he said.
“We are here looking to [talk to] some of the younger kids and get them into the trade with the dealership and building the community from there,” he said. “Looking at the future, the future is bright. Kids are where it is going to be. They are great. They are asking a lot of great questions. [We love] just the people and the camaraderie.”
Charlie Robles, Lieutenant/EMT with the Winter Haven Fire Department for 15 years, attended with his fellow fire staff members. As with many departments nationwide, they are focused on reaching out to the community for recruitment. He especially wanted to entice the students with their scholarship opportunities.
“We think it is great,” he said. “Most of this is educating the kids, even if they are not choosing this as their career path, give them credits on the inside and direction and what they are looking for and how they can get there.”