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Cooper Elementary holds career day in Bella Vista

by Rachel Dickerson | March 27, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.
Bella Vista Firefighter Jayson Steeley adds gloves to the rest of his firefighting gear March 17 to show students at Cooper Elementary what a firefighter would look like while fighting a fire. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Rachel Dickerson)

BELLA VISTA -- A wide variety of professions were represented at Cooper Elementary's first career day on March 17.

Professionals visited classrooms from 8-10 a.m. giving presentations about their careers and answering students' questions. Careers represented included attorney, physical therapist, teacher, HVAC technician, police officer, hair stylist, nursing home caregiver, civil engineer, radio host and more.

Shannon Tweedy's fourth-grade class was visited by Bella Vista firefighters and paramedics Katie Gallagher, Jayson Steeley and Battalion Chief/EMS Coordinator Leon Lieutard.

Lieutard said being a firefighter is like being a scientist because paramedics get to learn about the human body, fluids and homeostasis. With a student as his "patient," he demonstrated how a machine from an ambulance works that shows the heartbeat and oxygen saturation. He also said there are medications on the ambulance that can make the heart beat faster or slower, and that paramedics can do almost everything the emergency room can do except for X-rays and stitches.

"It's not just putting out fires and rescuing cats; we also learn all about the human body," he said.

Steeley, who was already wearing a firefighter turnout, put on a mask, hood, helmet and air pack to show students what firefighters would look like in a fire. Steeley walked through the classroom and gave high-fives to the students.

In response to a question, Gallagher noted there are not a lot of fires in Bella Vista like there are in California. She said there are fires in the ravines at times, but only the top layer burns because there is moisture below that, and it does not get out of control like the fires in California.

Lieutard told students that firefighters use algebra to determine the gallons per minute flowing out of a hose and also use math to determine dosages of medications.

One of the firefighters' radios went off during the presentation with a tone followed by an alert of a structure fire. Gallagher explained that, after the tone, the dispatcher lets firefighters know where to go for the incident. Students asked whether they had to go, and they assured the students that the fire was on the other side of town and other firefighters were much closer, and also it was their day off.

After answering a few questions, the firefighters moved on to another class.

Next to visit Tweedy's class was Alison Nation, who worked 14 years for Crystal Bridges in Bentonville and has worked for four weeks for Visit Bentonville.

She said she earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in studio art then moved to Arkansas where she earned a master's degree in ceramics. She started working at Crystal Bridges in 2008. For 10 years she worked on the communications team, creating content for the website, social media and email lists. For four years she worked as marketing director, creating advertisements targeting visitors who could get to Crystal Bridges in a four-hour drive. Sometimes she worked with Visit Bentonville, she said.

She noted there are many jobs at Crystal Bridges, including watching over the art and keeping it safe, controlling the air to keep it the right temperature to preserve the art or being an art historian who decides which pieces to put in the museum.

Visit Bentonville is a small company, she said, that tries to reach people to travel to Bentonville and hopefully get them to stay in a hotel and eat at a local restaurant and tell their friends about it. The company also funds projects, including the splash pad at Lawrence Plaza. It is funding turf at the softball fields in Memorial Park, she said. It grants funding requests for organizations, such as the Bentonville Half Marathon and Soar Arkansas, a hot air balloon event.

Principal Josh Vest said students, staff and visitors enjoyed the event.

"We want our community to be involved in our school, and we want our students exposed to the careers of today and tomorrow. Today was a great way to tackle both of those things," he said.

Elandrea Dumes, school counselor, said parents volunteered to speak at the school about their careers.

"The event exceeded my expectations for sure," she said. "The presenters were engaging and held the student's interest. They talked about what level of education they obtained to be in that career, what duties they do day to day and why they love what they do. Students were also able to ask questions to expand their understanding of the careers that were presented. Career day benefited students by allowing them to be introduced first-hand to various careers that are offered right here in their community. It is my hope that students are now inspired to pursue a career that they may have never thought of."

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