Brandon Cabrera grew up at the first Beginning with Children school at 11 Bartlett Street in Williamsburg. Immediately after graduating from high school, he earned his barber apprentice license. Last year, he earned his master barber license from the New York Department of State.
Yesterday, Cabrera, 29, returned to elementary school as an invited speaker for career day at Community Partnership Charter School in Clinton Hill.
“Do what you want to do and do it 100 percent,” he said. “Don’t be lazy. Focus on your goals. And make sure you execute what you want to do.”
More than 20 professionals from our community joined us for career day, including a construction worker, a lawyer, an M.T.A. conductor, a chef, a financial advisor, a nurse, several artists and police officers.
Presentations lasted about 30 minutes each. Our scholars passed around stethoscopes, handcuffs, and other tools of several trades.
Ms. Banna organized career day at CPCS yesterday as she has done for about the last six years. Prioritizing state testing, math bootcamp and field trips in the last month, she had about a week to recruit speakers, prepare the schedule, teachers and students. Pre-K through fifth grade participated.
“It’s always a great opportunity to network with other professionals, for the adults and the kids,” Ms. Banna said. “The end result is always very very good and it makes me happy.”
A goal included exposing students to careers they may not have been aware of. Ms. Banna helped prepare them with a set of questions for them to ask the speakers. Teachers also discussed the event with students and the importance of conduct and respect when meeting with professionals.
Our scholars impressed our guests.
“They asked a lot of questions,” said Corey Mitchell, a regional manager at Dollar General. “They were asking good questions.”
Mitchell grew up in Clinton Hill and studied at the public school currently co-located with CPCS. His niece and nephew invited him to speak at career day. He passed along the importance of developing leadership skills.
“I enjoyed it,” he said. “I was nervous at first because I’ve never done this before.”
An M.T.A. conductor, Tiffany Green also felt nervous for her first time as a career day speaker. She agreed with Mitchell about our scholars asking good questions. Her daughter is currently in fifth grade and has been a CPCS scholar since kindergarten.
Ms. Banna set up the teacher’s lounge for speakers with breakfast and lunch. Jesse Bueno, an attorney, said he met a potter, paramedics and police officers there.
“It was a wonderful experience,” Bueno said. “I was actually impressed with how engaged the kids were. How genuinely interested they were.”
Toni Brisby, one of our fourth-grade teachers, singled out students Emma and Greyson for their focus and engagement with the speakers.
Greyson is motivated by helping people. He said he would like to be a lawyer because he wants to defend people and protect their rights in court. “I am very inspired,” he said.
Emma is also focused on a career that will give her the opportunity to help people, so right now she is most interested in becoming a doctor. She said she was impressed with Alyssa Turton, a Community Partnership Charter School graduate and multi-hyphenate speaker who works with the New York Police Department Explorers Program while also dedicating herself to songwriting and rapping.
Emma said she understands the pursuit of any career requires effort.