Career Day Expands Horizon for Palmer Students

Students at Palmer Elementary learned that they could dream big at the school’s Career Day. They simply had to look to the sky for proof. 

The landing of a Life Net New York medical helicopter highlighted the day, which featured professionals from ten occupations answering countless questions from the students. 

“It’s good for the kids to know that if you want to be a pilot, you can be a pilot. If you want to be a medic, you can be a medic,” said flight paramedic Josh Stoeckel, who was inspired to become a medic when his own father was rescued by a medical helicopter after going off a cliff in a tractor trailer. “You can do anything. It just takes time.”
A group of children sitting in front of a helicopter in a field 

Stoeckel has three sons at Palmer who urged him to show up once they learned about Career Day.

“We said, “Dad, dad, you have to come,’” said his son, Joaquin, a 5th grader.

Others came for different reasons. TV reporter Esperanza Gutierrez was a former student of Palmer teacher Jeanine Andrews when both were in Harpursville. While Gutierrez’ job requires her to ask some tough questions, on this day she answered them.

“The students asked me what is it like to be in the TV world and what is it like being on TV. One asked me, ‘How do you get your hair like that?’ I hope that was a compliment,” said Gutierrez. 
Children sitting on the floor of a classroom in front of a woman standing 

So, what is it like being a TV reporter?

“I told them that it’s fun. I told them that no two days are the same and that I get to meet people in the community like them. And, it’s fun being on TV at the end of the day,” said Gutierrez. 

21-year Navy veteran Mike Putney shared his wealth of experience from his military career, which included combat missions in Kosovo, Operations Desert Storm and Desert Fox, and the War Against Terror. He was also stationed at the Naval Historical Center during the 9/11 attacks. That assignment led to him being one of the first people allowed into the Pentagon after the attack.

“There was a historical aspect to the event, so we went in looking for artifacts that could go into the Naval Museum,” said Putney.

Putney told students that most of the material at the crash site was disintegrated. However, his team believes it found a belt buckle belonging to one of the terrorists. It was a riveting detail from a witness to history.
A man standing in the front of a classroom 

“Sometimes you think about people going into the Military because they don’t know what they want to do, but it opens so many doors. You get so much training and meet so many people from across the country. It really expanded my horizons,” said Putney. 

The idea of a limitless future was a theme of this day.

“We want the kids to know that whatever strikes their fancy, the people here today are showing them they can do it,” said Palmer Elementary principal Jamie Bernard. 

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