John Madsen has a healthy disrespect for the impossible.

It’s how he explains his unlikely path to the National Football League—a career he launched without ever having played a game of high school football—and it’s what he instills in the young athletes he mentors today through his John Madsen Performance training program.

“Dream big. Anything is truly possible. It happened for me. It could happen for anybody,” he told teen participants of Canyons District’s 7th annual Job Shadow Day. “And when you dream big, I want you to be a little unrealistic.”

Every year in February, a cohort of CSD students get a chance to spend half-a-day shadowing professionals in marketing, architecture, public works, medicine, or finance — to name just a few of the fields — and then network with their sponsors over lunch. This year, 89 students and 41 companies took part in the event, which marks the beginning of Career and Technical Education Month (CTE).

“By partnering with the business community, CTE programs prepare students for the workforce by exposing them to the technologies and job skills they’ll need,” said Janet Goble, Canyons District's CTE Director. Job Shadow Day is a natural extension of that, because it allows students to test-drive a profession, make early workforce connections and gain some “real world” experience.

The takeaway for some students is the realization that a given career is not the right fit, which allows them to re-direct course now before they enroll in college. But for those who remain firm in their aspirations, the experience can provide an inspirational boost.

On the path to career success, there will be critics who say, “it can’t be done,” said Madsen at the job shadow luncheon. But don’t listen, he said, recounting an experience from his youth.

All that Madsen could ever remember wanting to do was play professional sports. “Professional athlete” was what he wrote down for his No. 1 and No. 2 career picks on the career-planning survey he was asked to complete in seventh grade. “It never occurred to me that it wasn’t possible,” he said.

In truth, the odds were against Madsen succeeding. Only 6 percent of high school players play any kind of college football, and fewer than 3 percent make it to Division 1, said Madsen who didn't even play prep football, having focused instead on basketball and baseball. Nevertheless, he managed to talk his way onto the football team at Snow College, later transferring to the University of Utah where he thrived under Coach Urban Meyer’s tutelage. “I asked them for a shot. I asked them if they would just let me try out,” Madsen said.

Despite being sidelined by an injury his senior year of college, Madsen landed a spot on the Raiders as a free agent in 2006. He also later played for the Cleveland Browns.

Now, his life’s work is to deliver his message of perseverance to the “big dreamers” of today. To the promising, young athletes he trains, he says: Don’t listen to doubters, never give up and have the courage of your convictions. Paraphrasing Henry Ford, he says, “If you believe, you can, you can. If you believe you can’t, you can’t. Either way, you’re right.”

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  • Tuesday, 08 September 2015 18:02

    Students Win International Woodworking Awards

    Three Corner Canyon student guitar-makers this summer won international awards and cash prizes at the Freshwood Student Competition at the Association of Woodworking and Furnishing Suppliers (AWFS) convention. The winners are:

    -          Sadie Chidester, first place and $1,000, “Featherprint”

    -          Jacob Rubisch, second place and $500, “Mahogany Gem”

    -          Porter Thorkelson, honorable mention and $250, “Sun Burst.”

    Chidester, Rubisch and Thorkelson are among six students from Corner Canyon, and 19 high school students nationwide, who were selected to compete at Freshwood. The competition was held at the Las Vegas convention in July 2015. The international competition includes high school and college students from the United States and Canada.

    Sadie Chidester - Featherprint
    Jacob Rubisch - Mohagany Gem
    Porter Thorkelson - Sun Burst
  • Sadie Chidester - Featherprint
  • Jacob Rubisch - Mohagany Gem
  • Porter Thorkelson - Sun Burst
  • It's one thing for students in Canyons District to spend their school days working toward being college-and career-ready, but it's quite another when they actually spend a day on the job and learn a little about what the real world is like.  

    That's the experience almost 150 students recently had as they teamed up with 46 local businesses to participate in CSD’s annual Job Shadow Day, the kickoff event of Career and Technical Education Month. Students experienced what it's like to spend a day on the job working in finance, medicine, cancer research, veterinary services, architecture, business management and city planning, to name a few of the opportunities available, then network at a luncheon sponsored by their mentor.

    The experience is aimed at helping students determine what career opportunities appeal to them the most so they can make informed decisions on what kind of schooling, or technical training, will be most beneficial.

    "You don't always get experiences like this, and this is a crucial time to get these ‘inside’ experiences," said Kelsey Smart, a junior at Hillcrest High, who joined Midvale Mayor Joann B. Seghini for an in-depth look at the inner workings of city government. "Not a lot of people get to see what really goes on in local government — that was exciting to me."

    Mentors, like Seghini, also enjoy working with students for a day. It gives potential employers the chance to survey the field of upcoming graduates for a potential new work force, support the community and share their hard-earned wisdom with the next generation.

    "If you feel helpless, you will be," Seghini said as she sat next to Smart at the luncheon. "If you feel empowered, you are. If (students) don’t get out and see what's there they will have no idea what they should be doing. Graduation is just the beginning."

    The good news is, there are many exciting opportunities waiting for students after graduation, said Chet Linton, keynote speaker of the Job Shadow luncheon and president and CEO of the School Improvement Network. According to Linton, by 2018, the amount of students who earn a college degree in order to meet the demands of America's work force will fall short by 3 to 5 million, while at the same time, in 2014, almost half of college graduates under age 25 are out of work or underemployed. The disparity is because students aren't pursing the right careers or the right education to match their desired career, Linton said.

    "We create the life we live — it's up to each of us," Linton said. "I suggest finding things you're passionate about. Ask yourself this question — what are you passionate about? Then do what you love. If you do what you love, you will find something to make you happy."
    Wednesday, 04 February 2015 00:00

    CSD Kicks Off CTE Month with Job Shadow Day

    Canyons District’s celebration of Career and Technical Education Month starts with CSD’s annual Job Shadow Day.

    Some 100 students will be in Salt Lake County firms on Wednesday, Feb. 4 to learn what it’s like to run a business in our community.

    To be sure, the event kicks off the annual recognition of our Career and Technology Education efforts — and the raised awareness of the role that CTE has in preparing our nation for economic success and workforce competitiveness.

    “The activities planned over the next month will illustrate the rigor and relevance CTE courses offer our students,” said Janet Goble, Canyons District's CTE Director.  “By partnering with the business community, CTE programs are investing in students’ lives with the latest technology and skills that will prepare them to become successful employees as well as future leaders.”

    Check out some videos, found on the District’s YouTube channel, that have produced to promote the District’s CTE offerings.
    In addition, Canyons District is hosting the Utah Association of Career and Technical Education Conference on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 6-7. The UACTE event, the statewide professional-development meeting for CTE educators, will be at Corner Canyon High. More than 1,200 CTE teachers, including 100 teachers from Canyons District, have registered to attend. Goble is spearheading the plans for the conference. 

    A Canyons District administrator has been elected by her peers to serve on the Board of Directors of the nation’s largest advocacy organization for Career and Technical Education.

    Canyons’ Career and Technical Education Director Janet Goble, who has been with CSD since its 2009 founding, on July 1, 2015 will assume the post of Administration Division Vice President on the governing board of the Association for Career and Technical Education.

    Goble, a former Business Education Specialist for the Utah State Office of Education, says she was “surprised and excited” when told by an ACTE leader that she’d garnered the majority of votes in the association’s recent national elections. Some 4,700 CTE administrators who belong to ACTE were eligible to casts ballots.

    “At first, I was, like, ‘Oh, wow. This really happened.’ It really is a dream,” Goble said with a laugh, adding that her family treated her to dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steak House after they heard the good news. “It’s also a great opportunity to showcase, on a national level, the great things that are happening in our District.”

    In the post, Goble will serve as the voice of those administrators in the association, seek to bolster the membership rolls, create opportunities for productive dialogue between education organizations and business leaders, and advocate on local, regional and national levels for continued funding and support of CTE.

    Goble, who has served on the Executive Board of the Utah Association of Career and Technical Education, also aims strengthen current relationships with post-secondary officials to ensure that high school principals, program coordinators, and teachers are receiving constant feedback about the CTE offerings in secondary schools. “We need to make sure that what we are doing at the secondary level feeds into and makes sense” for what is offered at the post-secondary level, said Goble.

    In addition, Goble, who underwent a rigorous application and interview process in order to be eligible as a national-board candidate, will be tasked with planning and executing the Administration Division sessions for this fall’s national VISION conference, a major professional-development meeting for CTE educators. In addition to smoothing out any logistical wrinkles at the event, Goble says she wants to “make sure the division has meaningful sessions for members to attend during the national conference.” 

    “I am excited about (the new position) and the chance to get a national perspective,” she said. “This is will be a good opportunity — and an important professional-development piece for me.”

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