Guest Speakers in Grade 6 Writing Classes Discuss Careers and Passions With Eager Students

St. Margaret’s grade 6 students listened to a variety of guest speakers share their passions, career paths and life wisdom during their writing class block recently, a lineup of speakers organized by Middle School English teacher Owen Beitner. 
“The opportunity to hear from a different walk of life, different career path, and receive advice is so incredibly invaluable,” Mr. Beitner said. “I can’t tell you how much these guests’ time and effort mean to us.” 
Each block had their own speaker, where students asked questions and solicited advice related not only to the skills needed in their chosen field, but also on life in general.
In addition to the normal discussion, each speaker was asked five specific questions by the students:
  1. What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love and why?
  2. When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do to get back to your focus?
  3. What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months?
  4. What is the book or books you've either given or received as a gift that has greatly influenced your life?
  5. If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere getting a message out to hundreds of millions of people, what would it say and why?
The speakers included:
Riley Rojas, a product manager at Facebook and a recent college graduate who started three business while attending the University of California, Los Angeles, urged the St. Margaret’s students, of which she used to be one, to “be your authentic self and find people who have the same vision as you.”
David Gelb, a writer and director of Chef’s Table on Netflix, who recounted how group work in middle school and high school proved valuable in learning to work with others. “While I wasn’t a straight A student, I did take advice and direction to heart and applied these lessons to the work I do now.”
Justin Lee, who works as a United States Attorney out of Sacramento. He explained his role and offered advice he would tell his grade 6 self: live in the present by building relationships with family, friends and teachers.
Angel Viscarra, a sports anchor for ABC30 in Fresno, who shared his experience at the University of Southern California and what pushed him into working in front of a camera. He told the students to “never stop raising your hand in class. Keep your level of engagement high and play a positive role in the learning experience for everyone.”
Amy Hemphill, a longtime English teacher, shared wisdom from almost three decades as a teacher. Her advice to them was to surround yourself with people you love and to put your best foot forward in all that you do.
Mr. Beitner also arranged for a group of guest speakers in the first semester, with the goal that the speakers “share their passions for life and how writing is important to the work they do” while taking full advantage of the video-conferencing tools needed during Campus Flex learning.
An independent preschool through grade 12 college-preparatory day school in Orange County, California
St. Margaret’s Episcopal School
31641 La Novia Avenue
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
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