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Don Callejon School Students Learn About Different Jobs on Career Day

“Algebra for problem solving, geometry for 3D math and physics for movement—these are necessary subjects to know to be in game development,” said Vi Van, a technical animator at Don Callejon School’s April 13 Career Day. Using visual aids, Van spoke about his work in animation and virtual reality design during the early morning assembly for students in grades one through five. The kindergarten classes and middle school students attended two separate assemblies featuring different speakers later in the day. Each student had an academic assignment to complete after attending the assembly.

“What we want to do this year is include these very popular careers that are written about in early children’s books; we have a firefighter and the police officer, for example,” said Scott Duka, sixth grade teacher at Don Callejon School and co-organizer of Career Day with P.E. teacher Burt Codera. “We also want to advertise careers to students they might not know exist. For example, we have an arborist, a Google engineer and a makeup artist coming too.  About four speakers are school parents.”

Also presenting about their careers at the early morning assembly were former Peace Corps workers Judy and Bob Nixon, martial arts instructor Anthony Gooch and Santa Clara Fire Department firefighter Phillip Kleinheinz, accompanied by fellow firefighters Wyatt Jolliffe, Emile Leduc and Robert Flournoy.


“We were Peace Corps volunteers in the kingdom of Tonga,” Judy Nixon said. “‘Would you be willing to serve your country and the cause of peace by living and working in a developing country?’ That question was what [John F. Kennedy] asked college students. We were high school students when he said that. At the end of college is when we went into the Peace Corps. What would you do if you joined the Peace Corps?  You might work in agriculture. You might help people in another country grow crops or raise animals. You might be a health worker, a nurse. You might help people understand better health habits. You might give children vaccines. You might be a teacher. That’s what we were. We were teachers. We taught English as a second language.”

Judy and Bob Nixon trained to enter the Peace Corps at the end of 1967. They worked in Tonga from 1968 to 1969. Peace Corps, a federal program, provided a living allowance and a resettlement allowance. According to one of the presentation slides, a Peace Corps volunteer must have a college education, know the language of the country they will reside in and serve for two years.

Kleinheinz and his fellow firefighters from Truck 96 showed students their truck and mentioned some traits firefighters should have, such as language skills and typing proficiency. They pointed out that it is essential to know math to be a firefighter. For example, a paramedic should know multiplication, subtraction and addition to administer the right dose of medication to patients, and to do so in a hurry.

They added that firefighters also need to be fit and strong because their work involves handling big tools and heavy equipment and being on their feet at a moment’s notice.

In addition to being a martial arts instructor and main coach at XMA (Xtreme Martial Arts and Fitness Center) in San Jose, Gooch is a familiar face around Don Callejon School because he is a teacher there. Gooch has traveled all over the world performing martial arts and has worked as a stuntman in Los Angeles. He found his initial inspiration to study martial arts with the Ninja Turtles.

“The Ninja Turtles were the coolest things ever; they flipped, they kicked, they talked, they ate pizza, and they were just amazing,” Gooch said. “I’ve been doing martial arts since I was six years old on Oct. 21, 1991. I would punch. I would kick. When I go home, I would practice even more. Mom would be like, ‘It’s time do your homework.’ And I’m like, ‘I am doing my homework.’ Fast forward many years later. I got my black belt…The moment you quit is the moment you fail.”


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