Shadowing is not just for Ground Hogs! Job Shadowing opens up Opportunities for Waco High Health Academy Students.

By Donna McKethan

Each year, Americans celebrate Groundhog Day on February 2.   For the past 131 years, we’ve had a day celebrating a rodent! Time to upgrade our celebration!

February 2 is also National Job Shadowing Day.  Championed by national organizations, state organizations and our local Heart of Texas P-20 Council, National Job Shadowing Day provides students a unique peek into careers. It’s a great way for them to learn from people already in the work place, to  get some perspective about life in the work world, and to get a true feel for the career they plan to pursue in the future.

Shadowing experiences provide several advantages students. Students are able to observe firsthand the occupational duties and expectations of their career choice. This experience provides students an information base to assist in career decisions that are more compatible with their personal interests and skills. Other benefits include:

  • increased motivation to excel in school;
  • broadened understanding of requirements of a specific occupation in the “real” world;
  • increased self-confidence in working with adults and in job interviews;
  • improved positive self-image;
  • a chance to develop leadership skills.

Recently Waco High Academy of Health Science students took part in a job-shadowing experience provided by Baylor Scott and White Hospital. The experience was enjoyed by both the hospital staff and the students.   I’ll let the students speak for themselves about what they learned:

Marilyn Rangel

Marilyn Rangel: I shadowed two nurses at Baylor Scott and White Hospital.  I got first-hand experience at what they do on a day-to-day basis in Pediatrics.  I really loved the experience!  I am really grateful I got a chance to experience something like this.

Hallie Morgan

Hallie Morgan: At Baylor Scott & White I had the chance to shadow a nurse manager in the 5 South floor.  While I was shadowing, we checked on the nurses and how they were doing.  We also checked on patients because they were short-handed that day.  This experience really meant a lot to me because I got to see that there are other jobs in a hospital besides being a nurse or doctor.

Yenesia Carpio


Yenesia Carpio: At Baylor Scott & White, I learned many interesting things.  I shadowed in the Radiology department.  I got to see how a mammogram works.  I even learned how long you would have to go to college to become a mammography tech.  Shadowing at Baylor Scott & White was very helpful to me because it opened my eyes to more careers that I may want to do in the future.

Kevin SifuentezKevin Sifuentez: I visited the Baylor Scott & White Medical Center and got to see the laboratory.  It was very interesting.  I got to see how they test for HIV and pregnancy.  I also got to see where they put all the blood samples, including ones from Carter’s blood drives.  This experience meant a lot to me and I hope to get the chance to do it again soon.

Thomas Ramirez

Thomas Ramirez:  When we arrived to Baylor Scott & White, we were taken to the auditorium for a short orientation.  We each got our job-shadowing assignment.  I was assigned to the NICU, where they take care of sick and premature babies.  I shadowed a nurse who was taking care of a set of twins.  While there, I learned about the many types of jobs in the NICU and got to watch them feed and bathe the infants.


Destiny Acevedo: At Hillcrest Baylor Scott & White, I shadowed Megan in the clinical nutrition department.  I learned that there is a lot of math involved in nutrition.  I thought it was just about food, but they watch every patient and plan what they eat according to their nutritional needs.  They really care about the patients’ health.  This was a great experience, and I like it very much.

Just a few short hours are all it takes to open a window into the real world of work for students. Groundhog Job Shadow Day can be an important first step in providing students with the knowledge and skills they will need to achieve their dreams.  Special thanks to Baylor Scott and White, The Heart of Texas P-20 Council and Waco High School Academy of Health Science for making this day possible. If you are interested in hosting students for a shadowing experience at your work place, contact me at

In the words of Punxsutawney Phil, “BE the shadow!” and everyone will benefit.

Donna McKethan is the Career and Technology Director at Waco ISD. She has 33 years in education, the last 15 with WISD Career and Technology. She is currently the President of The Career and Technology Association of Texas. She is a WISD graduate with a BS in Home Economics Education from Baylor University and an MS of Education from Tarleton State University. She is currently enrolled in the Doctorial Program in Educational Leadership at Tarleton State University.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email for more information.






It takes a village … to get a child through college and into a career!

By DeShauna Hollie

I’ve always liked the phrase “It takes a village to raise a child”.  Most of us have heard that phrase at one point or another in our lives. It is a phrase that often comes to mind when I think of our educational system, in fact I would go so far as to say that “it takes a village to educate a child.” Over the past century we have done a phenomenal job in establishing an educational system that not only educates large numbers of students, but that is also continually striving to understand how to give each student the best education experience possible from early childhood through college.

Along with giving all students access to good teachers and quality curriculum, research also indicates that strong community support is one of the pivotal pillars of a successful educational system. (Darling-Hammond, 2010) This community support can look like a lot of things. For example in our own community we have a plethora of wonderful support systems that include but are not limited to:

  • Mentoring programs
  • Parent teacher organizations
  • Local and national nonprofits that take an active interest in our local schools

The community groups make up our village and make it possible for our teachers and administrators to focus on the great work that they are doing inside of the classrooms. We have laid a strong foundation for each student’s educational success. With these support systems in place we can now move on to the next phase of the work in providing each student with the best educational experience. That work includes helping students and families better connect their high school education with their college and career goals.

Using the model of collective impact Prosper Waco and MCC are actively engaged in multiple exciting initiatives to address the overarching goals of increasing college completion rates of students in McLennan County. With a grant from the TG Foundation we are using these questions to guide us in our work:

  • How do we raise the college completion rates of economically disadvantaged students?
  • How do we raise the college completion rates of Men of Color?
  • How do we provide information in a way that aids in a seamless transition for students from high school into college and into their career field so that they may take their places in society?

Again I’ll mention that it takes a village to educate a child. As a Waco local who also happened to have been a first generation college student myself, I know firsthand what it is like to navigate the paths between high school, college and career with community guidance. In the coming weeks we will delve further into all the ways that we are working towards the goal of increasing college completion rates for Mclennan County students.

DeShauna Hollie is the Pathways Specialist with the Project Link program. She is currently working on Master’s of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction at Greenville College. She is also an aspiring hops farmer and really likes riding her bike.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email for more information.

Notes: Darling-Hammond. (2010). The Flat World and Education: How America’s Commitment to Equity Will Determine Our Future. New York: Teachers College.




Indian Spring Service Learning Group explores hunger in Waco

By Craig Nash

This year I have had the pleasure of working with students at Indian Spring Middle School in a Service Learning Group focusing on the issues of Poverty and Hunger in McLennan County.  The Service Learning program, led by Travis Cheatham, combines educating students on “real world” concerns and equipping them to use their own gifts and talents in working toward creating a better world for themselves and their neighbors. During the fall, we talked about food insecurity and its causes. Students learned about minimum and living wages, creating a personal budget and food deserts. They were introduced to ideas about effective ways to engage in social change and given brief synopses of the many organizations in Waco dedicated to addressing hunger. They were particularly interested in three specific organizations– Caritas, Mission Waco’s Jubilee Food Market and Meals & Wheels of Waco. So, on January 30, we hopped on a bus for a field trip to those locations.

At Caritas, Director Buddy Edwards met us in the office area and spoke about the administrative work that goes into running Waco’s largest food pantry. Here the students heard about all the other services Caritas provides, such as GED training, SNAP enrollment and health education. Then Mr. Edwards led us through the rest of the facility, including the food distribution area, warehouse and front intake area. One of the things we brought up continually to students, a concept that many of them already knew well by experience, is that many people in our community who receive free food and other social services are people who have full time jobs, (some more than one) and often look just like people we are all friends and family with. The opportunity to see this firsthand was, I believe, a transformative experience.

The highlight of the students’ experience at Caritas was getting to enter the large walk-in freezer and experience zero-degree temperatures, and also taking a picture outside the beautifully painted new produce trailer located behind the building.

From Caritas, we traveled to the Jubilee Food Market where we met Kathy Wise of Mission Waco. On the way there, Mr. Cheatham gave students a lesson in the history of the Brook Oaks neighborhood, from its early days as an enclave of wealthy Wacoans, to its decline, to recent successes in revitalizion. Ms. Wise filled in some of the gaps, describing the neighborhood as being in a food desert before the acquisition of the building where the Market currently stands. She told stories of neighbors who often ended up paying as much for rides to the nearest grocery store as they do on groceries. Last fall students learned about the concept of food deserts, so this was a great oportunity for them to see first hand an organization working to alleviate this challenge.

The morning ended at Meals & Wheels, where Janet Nors walked students through the process of getting food from their facility to distribution hubs around the Heart of Texas and into the homes of seniors. Here, students asked many well-informed questions, such as how someone qualifies for receiving meals from M&W and what are the nutritional components of each meal. They seemed most surprised to learn that the organization also delivers pet food to its clients, and were intrigued at hearing the reason behind this, which is that many seniors in need will often give any food they receive to their pets, knowing they may not eat otherwise.

At the end of each stop, students asked each tour guide ways they could help. Ideas generated were helping Caritas mark off bar-codes from their gifts-in-kind, sharing flyers for Jubilee Food Market, and putting on a pet food drive for Meals & Wheels. They are currently considering which of these they are most excited about and capable of operating. I’m excited to see what they come up with.

I suspect the field trip was as meaningful for me as it was for them. In my role at Texas Hunger Initiative, I have the honor of working with folks all around the city working to alleviate hunger but rarely get to see them in their element like I was able to with these students. The dedication and joy I witnessed as they were in their “natural habitat” was inspiring, and I’m happy the students were able to witness that as well. If you see any of them out and about town, give them a huge “Thank You” for what they do, and the impact they have on our city.

Craig Nash has lived in Waco since 2000. Since then he has worked at Baylor, been a seminary student, managed a hotel restaurant, been the “Barnes and Noble guy,” pastored a church and once again works for Baylor through the Texas Hunger Initiative. He lives with his dog Jane, religiously re-watches the same 4 series on Netflix over and over again, and considers himself an amateur country music historian.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email for more information.


Every kid needs a mentor . . .

By Anne Broaddus

Mentoring is a powerful force that often goes unnoticed and uncelebrated in our world. And yet if asked, most of us would be quick to name an individual who impacted us in a major way at some point in life.

I know I would . . .

So what exactly is a mentor?

Someone who chooses to walk alongside another person, pouring out love and encouragement, conveying intrinsic worth, tutoring, advising, affirming, offering hope and helping someone realize their inherent strengths and abilities . . . sometimes even changing the trajectory of a life.

No limits to age, socio-economic standing, ethnicity, race, or profession. At Brook Elementary School, our current Columbus Avenue Kids Hope USA, mentors range from BU students to a WWII veteran in his 90s.

Near our ministry’s beginnings, a gentleman walked into my office, plopped down and said a little gruffly, I don’t know why my wife made me come see you. What do you want me to do?

My immediate response caught him off guard, can you love a child? He stuttered a little as he managed an awkward yes, and the two of us began a special friendship as I watched him become a wonderful mentor! And what joy was mine as I saw his little guy’s eyes light up when his mentor came to see him each week.

Kids Hope USA is a national faith-based mentoring organization that partners one school with one church which selects, trains and places adults in one-on-one mentoring relationships with elementary children, one hour a week during the school day.

Seventh and James Baptist, First Baptist of Hewitt, and Central Presbyterian churches also have Kids Hope USA mentoring programs.

*There are several schools in the Waco district still wanting a Kids Hope ministry on their campus. Please contact me if your church has an interest!

The Columbus Avenue Kids Hope program is beginning its 9th school year at Brook Avenue Elementary where we have mentored close to 400 at-risk students selected by the school. Some mentors have had multiple students at Brook. Others have chosen to continue with their students who change schools. Currently, there are 19 at middle schools and high school!

So why tell you about us? Recent Prosper Waco blogs by Stephanie Kortweg, and Janessa Blythe discuss some of the negative impacts poverty has on at-risk students. And given the number of WISD students impacted by the stronghold of poverty, the potential statistics are staggering.

But there is hope and hope often comes in the form of a volunteer! Kids Hope USA was founded on research showing the dramatic positive impact that can be made on the life of a child by a caring, faithful and involved adult.

“I’ve noticed something about people who make a difference in the world:  They hold the unshakable conviction that individuals are extremely important, that every life matters. They get excited over one smile . . .  They aren’t determined to revolutionize the world all at once; they’re satisfied with small changes. Over time, though, the small changes add up. Sometimes they even transform cities and nations, and yes, the world.” — Kisses from Katie, a Story of Relentless Love and Redemption, Beth Clark, p. xi

Individuals linking arm in arm in the various mentoring organizations might just transform the next generation . . . and our city!

Below are comments from teachers and students giving you a glimpse into the positive impact mentors have had in the lives of children.

Both offered in hopes that some of you will decide that mentoring is not so scary!

Teachers said:

What Kids Hope mentors are doing for our students is amazing. Their presence is making a positive change in many lives. Students’ abilities in reading, math, and other areas of academics are improving . . . behaviors are getting better . . . students are interacting with people they would never have opportunity to meet otherwise. You are modeling a different way of being for our students to see and emulate . . . helping them trust and learn to build healthy relationships . . . a KH mentor is the best thing some of our kids have ever had in their lives!

Your program is not just Kids Hope. You also give us hope as teachers. You are a light on dark days, giving us reason to keep loving and teaching our kids. You let us know we are not alone. You are part of the community choosing to come to our school, not because you have to but because you want to be here. Year after year, supporting us, caring about us, standing with us. I am so grateful for Kids Hope!

Students said:

What do I like best about my mentor? That she actually comes! Every week!! 

My mentor taught me to turn fractions into decimals! Math isn’t so hard now.

My mentor is a great man, helps me a lot academically and in how I act toward and care about others.

My mentor has been a miracle since the first day she came into my life in elementary school, and she is a miracle every time she comes to see me! She helps me handle my emotions, and has helped me believe I am not a bad person. She’s taught me a lot about treating others with respect and honoring other people. She still comes to see me as a teenager and is there when I need her. She is the best person I have ever been around. I am so very grateful my mentor came into my life.

A mentor is like being given someone to help with your problems, to be your friend. Every kid needs a mentor . . .

Who are you mentoring?

The possibilities are endless – contact our mentoring coalition and find your place among us as a mentor!

Anne Broaddus is a native Wacoan, attended Midway schools, and holds degrees from Baylor University and Truett Seminary. Her 2008 retirement from teaching just meant a career change! Anne currently serves on staff at Columbus Avenue Baptist Church as Director of Kids Hope USA mentoring ministry centered at WISD’s Brook Avenue Elementary School in North Waco. Beyond time with God and and her family, she is most happy in the mountains, with a good book or sharing a cup of coffee with a friend!

Contact Anne at   You can learn more about Kids Hope U.S.A. at  or