Job shadow day through the eyes of a fifth-grader

by Autumn June
Kaiserslautern Elementary School fifth-grader

My friends are always telling me how lucky I am because I got to shadow my mom for National Groundhog Job Shadow Day. 

She is the reporter for the U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern, and on job shadow day, I got to see other jobs and meet a lot of nice people because my mom had to write a story for the base newspapers – the Herald Post and Kaiserslautern American.

This year’s job shadow day was Feb. 5. I invited two of my friends, Alexcia Dunn and Ray Martin, to come with me, and we followed my mom, Christine June. We got to see six different types of professions, including my mom’s job.

First, we got to see a little bit of what military chaplains and their assistants do because we attended the garrison’s National Prayer Breakfast.

Yes, we got to eat breakfast. Oh man, I was hungry too, and I got a meal fit for a king – scrambled eggs, potatoes, sausages and my favorite, bacon. 

There were a lot of people, and it was very loud. My friend Isaac Vinson was there with his parents,  Staff Sgt. Jonathan and Emma Vinson. I don’t know what his mom does, but his dad is one of the garrison’s chaplain assistants who organized this event.  He did a very good job because the decorations were very nice and the food was great. And, the adults seemed to like all the talking stuff.

My mom said that the National Prayer Breakfast is a yearly event usually held on the first Thursday of February. It’s a chance for world leaders to get to know each other so we can all get along better. That sounds pretty good to me. I think they should have breakfast together every morning.

Ray helped his mom, Lt. Col. Mechelle Hale, welcome everyone to the event. He was learning about his mom’s job as the garrison’s commander. I asked him if he was nervous talking in front of all those people, and he said, “No, I’ve been in plays.”

Then, we went with my mom to the American Forces Network on Vogelweh to be on the radio. Mom goes there every Thursday morning to talk about garrison events and the top stories in the Herald Post. I’ve been on the radio before – no sweat for me. Demarrio Spence, the morning show DJ, is very nice.

He had a shadow too – his son, Nicholas. Ray and I talked on the radio, but Alexcia was too shy.

After AFN, we saw a military working dog demonstration by the 230th Military Police Company on Vogelweh. We all got to hide the scent stuff – training aids – for the dogs to find. This was Ray’s favorite part. Alexcia said she liked it too. I also liked hiding the scent stuff, but the dog did find it pretty fast.

While talking to the MPs, I found out that this was the first time they held the demonstration for job shadow day.

At this event, we also got to go in a police car and Humvee thanks to the 569th U.S. Forces Police Squadron. And, that’s always fun.

Now, we were a little bit behind our schedule, and we literally ran to the Pulaski Auto Skills. I went there last year too, and it’s a lot of fun because we get to go underneath a car. Both Alexcia and Ray had never been under a car before.

Don Breton, who is a very nice man, is the Pulaski Auto Skills

manager. He showed us a car’s engine and that all the bright yellow levers means it’s a fluid important for maintenance. We used my mommy’s car, and luckily, all the fluids were at the right levels.

Mr. Breton said that he likes job shadow day.

“I can take the time to show you what to look for and how to care for your car before you even start to drive,” he explained. “I like having you here because you learn and that will make you a smart and safe driver (in the future).”

We were really late now, but my mom had promised the people who work at the garrison’s Kaiserslautern Outdoor Recreation on Pulaski Barracks that we would come. I’m sure glad we did. This was my favorite job of the day.

Dennis Read, who is a recreation assistant at Kaiserslautern Outdoor Recreation, showed us the difference between a waxed ski and one that wasn’t waxed. And, we also got to wax a ski. You have to start at one of the ends and make sure you go in one direction. It’s much harder than you think.

This was also the first year that Kaiserslautern Outdoor Recreation gave a tour for job shadow day.

Everyone there was very nice, and they gave each of us a prize – ChapStick with a world on it. It’s very cool.

This was the sixth year that I have shadowed my mom, but this was the first time that I actually tried doing her job.

I did interviews – lots of them. Mom said that at least two people need to be quoted in every newspaper article, and it’s important to interview as many people as possible to get the complete story.

It was kind of hard to keep thinking of the questions, and I never really appreciated how much walking my mom does when covering stories.

She laughed when I told her that and said, “You should try it while carrying the camera.”

I lifted her camera bag up and said, “No thank you.”

Mom said the writing is easier when you make sure you get all the information you need, like complete names, duty titles and units of the people you are interviewing.

You also have to get the official names of agencies, like Pulaski Auto Skills, or events, like it’s the National Groundhog Job Shadow Day not just job shadow day. I didn’t know that.

“See, there are a lot of questions that you need to ask,” my mom said.

And, I don’t know about the writing being easier. It took me most of the weekend to write this story, and writing for a newspaper is way different from the stories I write in school.

My mom’s job wasn’t my least favorite of the day, but it sure was my least favorite of the weekend.

I don’t think I’m as lucky as my friends think, and next year, I think I’m going to shadow the guys at Kaiserslautern Outdoor Recreation, and I also want to do the National Prayer Breakfast thing again.