Shanda Wylie sat at her teller's station, counting out cash and logging transactions. She wore a big smile — obviously enjoying herself in the first moments of her new job.
One of her customers reached across the counter, and made a move that suggested they would try and take a bill or two out of her drawer. Wylie calmly and respectfully blocked the hand. She closed her drawer. She laughed. And then proclaimed it was someone else's turn to mind the cash drawer.
No call to the cops — though they were just across the room, fingerprinting each other and investigating a crime. Wylie, her customer and the officers in the room are all first-graders at Slate Creek Elementary school. Feb. 2 they were trying out different careers, using hands-on activities to do so.
"This is part of our career exploration unit. We've had community speakers visit, and students will write an opinion piece then possibly make a presentation about what career they will choose when they grow up," said teacher Diane Hershberger.
During the morning hours her teaching partner's room — that of Katelin McEachern — hosted stations for different careers. Students were able to try out teaching, police work, banking and working for the post office.
They scurried to deliver postcards, complete with a stamp, while wearing postal service visors to look official. That brought a smile to the speaker of the morning — Newton postmaster Robin Gay.
"Usually what the kids relate to is their own postal carrier," Gay said. "We talked about how important is to know how to read and use numbers to deliver the mail. We try and work some real-life skills into it."
During Friday afternoon students participated in other careers including firefighter, hair stylist, veterinarian, dentist, auto mechanic, construction worker, news reporter and restaurant owners.
"This is the first year we have set something like this up," Hershberger said.