Checkout this year's presentations!

By Kimberly Orr
January 30, 2023

The Fairfax Academy Career Experience Expo (November 9th, 2022) was a day-long experience for Fairfax Academy students. Industry professionals from around the region came to Fairfax Academy to share insights about career pathways connected to Academy studies. We had professionals visit from the areas of performing arts, communications, and world languages.

We kicked off the day with a keynote speaker, Ms. Selma Patillo Simms, who is currently the Head ASL Coordinator for Montgomery County Public Schools, and an independent certified ASL freelancer who has worked in the industry for over 25 years.  Ms. Patillo Simms talked about her experience freelancing as an interpreter in Washington DC for Hollywood stars, Political Leaders, Film, and for Education, as well.  

We continued the day with 4 separate breakout sessions, and a closing presentation. This was our lineup of industry professional speakers for the day:

·         Selma Patillo Simms, ASL Coordinator - Montgomery County Public Schools

·         Lauren Flynn, Program Coordinator, Changing Education Through the Arts - The Kennedy Center

·         Bryan Payne, Photographer - Team People

·         Megan DuBois, Cultural Arts Manager - The City of Fairfax

·         Channel 12 Fairfax City – the City of Fairfax

·         Nina Thirakul, Associate Professor and Fashion Designer – Marymount University

·         Olivia Lou Evers, Professional Dancer -Independent Contractor

·         Evan Hoffman, Director – Next Stop Theatre

·         Ruaa Hikmat, Director of Talent Acquisition – Easy Dynamics

·         Jordan Mason, Social Media Specialist – Fairfax County Public Schools

·         Dr Jung and Dr Kim – George Mason University Department of Korean Studies

·         Eileen Eidelberg, Freelance Camera Operator – Washington Nationals and NBC Universal

·         Delaina McCormack, Social Media Manager – Fairfax County Public Schools

·         Carrie Brown, ASL School Psychologist – Katherine Johnson Middle School (FCPS)

·         Fatima Al-Dosari, Executive Director – Qatar America Cultural Center

·         Mix Master Rob, Inc – Ignite Partner of Fairfax Academy and Music Production Professional

·         Aaron Webb, Photographer – Embassy of Japan

·         Ryan Haderlie, Director of Production – Filene Center at Wolf Trap

·         Mike May, Concept Artist – Zenimax Online Studios

·         Susanne Koucheravy, Pilates Instructor for Dancers – Body Dynamics

·         Adam Wojciechowicz, Public Affairs Specialist – Korean Cultural Center

·         Pamela Bjerknes, Head of Lower Division – The Washington Ballet

·         Kristy Windom, Head of Upper Division – The Washington Ballet

·         Mary Lechter, Executive Director – Mason Community Arts Academy

·         Eva Cohn and Larry Waller – The Language Flagship/ROTC Scholarship

·         Samir Moussa and Nico Laget, Managers – Sweet Spot Studios

Students who were able to attend Career Experience Expo the entire day were able to choose the sessions they wanted to attend. Over 200 students participated for the full day. They showed their passion for their futures – students came in business professional dress, and their engagement during the multiple sessions was priceless.  A few of our presenters were alumni of Fairfax Academy, which was special for both the students and the alumni sharing their careers in the place where they once took classes. 

We learned how perfumes are important to Arabic culture, and how language is a consistent integration and promotion into all careers – a constant enhancement for any job seeker, no matter what career path they choose.  We learned that production spans across multiple industries; and that no matter the industry (be it Dance, Fashion, TV, Film, or Theatre) the key to a good production team is logistical skills.  We learned about different angles photographers use whether it is for events or certain products.  Students came up with such valuable questions when meeting with a Creative Designer for Gaming, who shared so much detail about his day as a game design professional at one of the top game design companies in the country.  

Five of our own FCPS employees also presented in breakout sessions of value to our students within Social Media Marketing, American Sign Language and Work Based Learning, sharing their personal career experiences with our students.  Industry professionals shared throughout the day about where students can explore or gain internships, in-field scholarships or even just where to get experience in the community. 

Closing, we had a presentation by Sweet Spot Studios, a local music recording studio located out of Annadale, VA who shared videos of their work, music videos and offered advice to students about networking.

We will continue to work with the industry professionals that attended Career Experience Expo in multiple ways.  Ms. Thirakul, with Marymount University is returning to speak to a Fashion Careers class on December 5th, for Ms. Barry.  Ms. Kang went on a field trip Sweet Spot Studios has offered to work with Fairfax Academy to give our Music Computer Technology students different aspects of learning and career experience when needed, and Mr. Webb with the Japanese Embassy will be returning to speak with Mr. Smith’s photography class in January. 

As we move through the school year beginning in 2023, we will continue to work with our professional liaisons to create high quality work-based learning opportunities for students of Fairfax Academy.  Career Experience Expo was an excellent opportunity for students to learn about and become exposed to various careers and topics and to the professional conference experience, while faculty and staff were making those valuable connections, forming important relationships with industry, creating experiences for our students!