Wide range of occupations explored at Innovation Academy career fair

Rick Wagner • May 24, 2013 at 12:06 AM

KINGSPORT — From robotics and welding to funeral directing or working as a sheriff’s deputy or at an animal hospital, students at Innovation Academy’s inaugural career fair got a dose of adult livelihoods.

The grades 6-7 student body of Innovation Academy of Northeast Tennessee, a science, technology, engineering and math school jointly operated by the Kingsport and Sullivan County school systems, attended the fair in the school’s gym/cafeteria.

“I want to go into the military,” said Joseph Cox, 12 and a sixth-grader at IA. “I was thinking of the Air Force. But I also want to do something involving biology.”

Cox, who otherwise would be zoned for Sullivan North Middle School, said he plans to return to IA as a seventh-grader in August, when the school will expand to a grades 6-8 operation.

“It has given me opportunities I probably wouldn’t have at my home school,” Joseph said.

Asked his favorite careers represented at the fair, he said a Navy commander and the robotics program of Northeast State Community College, which is at the Regional Center for Applied Technology. Keith Bowery demonstrated a robot to the students.

Isaac Whitehead, 13 and in seventh grade, said the robotic display was his favorite.

“I kind of want to be a marine architect,” Isaac said, explaining that job would entail designing buildings hanging over or on the water, as well as boats and house boats.

He said he also liked the simulated welder demonstration, also from NESCC and the RCAT and done by Ron Broadwater. He said he is returning to IA in the fall “especially because we’re going to have robotics.”

As part of the expansion of the school to a full day with related arts on site instead of at home or base schools, Project Lead the Way, an engineering program including robotics, will be taught at IA starting in the fall.

Samuel Goddard, 13 and a seventh-grader from Kingsport’s Robinson Middle School district, said he is coming back and will participate in the new IA band program.

“I’m thinking about being in the special forces. I’m not sure what branch of the military,” Samuel said. “I think it (IA) helps me learn a lot better than traditional school.”

He said his favorite presenter at the career fair was a funeral director and learning what he does and doesn’t do in the job.

The 2013-14 school year marks the second school year and the last for the federal funding, although the two systems are already funding teacher and other pay themselves.

The application deadline for new students from the county and city — and the deadline to file an intent to remain enrolled for existing students — is today. For more information, go to http://www.ianetn.org/.

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