How do you empower and inspire third-graders to become future leaders? Show them what’s possible for their careers, and how technology can impact everything they do.
That’s exactly what happened when more than 90 students joined the Microsoft Canada Education team and Fair Chance Learning this week at Microsoft’s Mississauga campus to discuss careers in the tech industry.
The students, all from the Halton Catholic District School Board (representing St. Bernadette’s Elementary School in Oakville and St. Christopher’s Elementary School in Burlington), are taking part in Pathways and Student Success Program that focuses on engaging students by supporting their diverse interests, goals and strengths. Participating classes were selected for their enthusiasm and inclination for working with technology in their classrooms.
Grade three students in the Pathways and Student Success program together during lunch break at Microsoft’s Mississauga campus.
“I want to be a teacher when I grow up,” said third-grader Charlotte, “and I’m going to use wicked technology like Skype Translator in my classroom to help teach my students about different countries if they can’t go there, and can’t speak their language.”
Throughout the day, students heard inspirational keynotes from Tony Prophet, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of education marketing. Speaking with the students via Skype, Prophet spoke about the importance of attaining a higher education and becoming a life-long learner.
Students also met Rachel Park, a recent Harvard graduate who shared her Microsoft Accelerated Connections and Experiences (ACE) program experience.
“Tony and Rachel taught me that girls in other parts of the world can’t do as much as boys can because they can’t go to school,” said student Nyla. “Sometimes, they have to climb up mountains to get to their school because they know how important learning is. I’m lucky I don’t have to do that and I can go to school, just like boys can, in Canada.”
Students also heard from Microsoft leaders who shared their personal career stories. Byron Gaum, senior category manager for Xbox Games, talked about potential career paths that play an integral role in creating video games including becoming developers, testers and music composers. Greg Milligan, national technology strategist for Microsoft in Education, shared the education path he took for his career in the tech industry, emphasizing that while he chose to pursue computer studies, there are many other educational pathways for working in the industry.
“Greg taught us that you don’t always have to be great at math to work in technology,” noted Nyla, “you just have to have great ideas.”
For student Sierra Gallant, the day actually offered a surprise chance to be with her dad, Josh Gallant, who has been working at Microsoft for the past 10 years as a technical account manager.
“Sierra thought I was seeing a client today,” said Josh. “So she was very surprised to see me here. I love the ability my job gives me to combine my passion for technology and helping other people. At the core of my job, I help people. It was great that I could share that perspective with my daughter and her classmates.”
Learn more about the Halton Catholic District School Board (HCDSB) and the Pathways and Student Success program. Find out more about Skype in the Classroom. And, for more about career-readiness resources for students, visit Microsoft’s YouthSpark Hub.