As I sit here and write this blog, I find myself just staring at my desk. I look at the notes taped to my computer screen, the pile of speaker notes and dates, the reminder to order a basketball team picture, a filled-in calendar with crossed-out days and a framed photo of the senior softball players. The first initial thought is, “I need to clean my desk off”. However, after I continued gazing at my desk, I wrapped my mind around this thought, “This is my story”.

My husband who is well-versed in storytelling, shares three notable points:

“Stories give meaning to the past, context to the present and a vision for the future.”

Sharing Career Path Stories

And as I look at my desk, I see all of those notable points about stories jumping out, yet one very specific pile carries a majority of shared stories…my career speaker notes.

I have had the privilege of creating a new class for eighth graders to give them insight to the six Nebraska Career Fields. I have had nearly 20 different speakers share their career path journeys with my students. The stories shared have given all of my students a glimpse into each of their futures.

While each speaker shared their lived story, all stories had two unknown themes intertwined. The first theme was encouraging students to follow a passion. The second theme was hard work. And while this passion can be photo shooting, cooking, helping others, playing sports, rebuilding computers or even reading, the speakers encouraged the students to follow what makes them happy. The speakers shared that they did not find happiness in the salary, it was through finding a career that ignited their passion.

Yet following these career paths took resilience. It was hard. One speaker shared her five different jobs that spanned four different states to finally find a career she loves. A career where there is no “have to do this”. A career where her company encourages giving back to the community. This is resilience.

One speaker shared how scared he was to tell his parents he did not want to go to college. He had multiple opportunities throughout high school to craft his passion. He was ready to start his own business. He had to develop a plan. A plan that consisted of having three different jobs at one point helped him establish his business and pay bills. This is persevering.

Another speaker shared her love of learning and created a path to earning her Doctorate in Education. She transitioned from the education world to president of a communications company; however, she is still well-engrossed in her passion for teaching and learning. This took grit.

Finding a Path That’s Right for You

Through the many narratives, the students were able to give context to what they currently know and envision themselves pursuing that in the future. If this new class was not offered, I know I would not have reached out to the speakers. I would not have heard their stories. I would have not witnessed their passions, I would have not understood their path of resilience.

My students would not have learned about so many different career experiences. However, now they have a unique context to their current learning and a small vision for what they want to do (or not do) during high school.

For once, I am thankful for a pile of notes on a messy desk.

Shelly Mowinkel

Shelly Mowinkel

K-12 & Teens

My husband and I have three kids. Our oldest is a freshman in high school, and our youngest is in second grade. Most days, I feel like we are a “tag-team chauffeuring” service, yet I wouldn’t have our life any other way. Not only I am a business/technology teacher at Milford, I am also the district technology integration specialist. I love teaching because I get the opportunity to make those around me better. My hope is that, through my blogging, I am able to inspire, encourage, and share with you my adventures of being a wife, mother, and professional.

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