School day at TSA! Kids flood HQ for up close look at what their parents do

Monday, April 29, 2024
Ian White of Training and Development hand wands a stuffed bear. (Don Wagner photo)

TSA is inspiring our kids to aspire to follow in their parents’ footsteps. 

For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, TSA headquarters invited the children of TSA employees to join their parents for Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work® Day on April 25, and 430 children flocked through HQ’s doors.  

The theme was “Inspire 2 Aspire” and was designed to give our kids a better understanding of what their parents do every day to protect the nation’s transportation systems. 

A VIPR team member helps a young man put on a police vest. (Don Wagner photo)
A VIPR team member helps a young man put on a police vest. (Don Wagner photo)

“This national program is designed to show children what a parent or guardian does during the workday,” said Melanie Harvey, executive assistant administrator of Security Operations, which organized the event. “The experience also helped our children see the value of their education and encouraged them to start thinking of possibilities for their own future careers.” 

Deputy Administrator Holly Canevari and her two children, 10-year-old Maggie and 7-year-old Will, joined other TSA families to participate in the many fun but educational activities – including hands-on workshops, tours and demonstrations – headquarters offered during the big event.  

“I think it’s really important for our kids to understand the work we do, why we do it, and how critical it is to our country,” said Canevari. “I believe in servant leadership and public service, and I really think opportunities like this help show our children what it means to give back.” 

When asked if she saw this as a recruiting tool for the future, Canevari replied, “I think it’s a wonderful recruiting tool. Your career at TSA can go in so many different directions, and there are so many opportunities. It’s valuable to showcase that to our children and hopefully spark their interest in pursuing something they see here today.” 

It was cool for Maggie to see her mom, TSA’s second-in-command, open the day by speaking to the large crowd. 

These kids get some shots in at the Federal Flight Deck Officer simulator. (Don Wagner photo)
These kids get some shots in at the Federal Flight Deck Officer simulator. (Don Wagner photo)

“At school, I talk about how important my mom’s work at TSA is,” said Maggie. 

Heather Harpine, a transportation security specialist for Intelligence and Analysis, enjoyed the special day with her 8-year-old daughter Henley. 

“It was the first time for her to attend, and she loved looking at the (Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response) cars and my office, seeing all the little kids touring the building,” Harpine said. 

“I loved it,” proclaimed Henley. “I was looking forward to this day a lot.” 

David and Andi Siegmund, both transportation security specialists who met through TSA when they served on the screening force at Los Angeles International Airport more than two decades ago, were thrilled to bring their children, 12-year-old Alice and nearly 11-year-old Roland, to HQ.  

“I wanted them to see the different things TSA does,” said Andi. “It’s not just screening at the airport, and it’s not just Mom sitting in front of the computer and Dad sitting in meetings.  

Hearing that, Roland told his mom, “You guys work a lot.” 

When asked what he thought of his mom’s job, Roland had this to say:  

The TSA-TV Studio is a huge hit with the kids. (Don Wagner photo)
The TSA-TV Studio is a huge hit with the kids. (Don Wagner photo)

“I think I could never do it. You probably haven’t seen my writing grades in school. They’re not great. They really aren’t. My mom’s job is demanding to be honest.” 

Roland remembers his last visit to headquarters before the pandemic at the former HQ building in Arlington, Virginia. He prefers the new building in nearby Springfield. 

“This building is a lot nicer than the last one I came to,” said Roland. “It’s really cool. There’s a lot of history around here.” 

“I think it's a lot of fun for them and for us,” David added. “I hope they walk away with an appreciation for the 60,000 people at TSA and what they are doing to keep transportation secure. That's what we're here for.” 

Henry Budhram brought his four daughters, ages 3 through 9, to headquarters to check out some of the history and learn more about what he and his colleagues do to serve TSA and the traveling public.  

“The opportunity to be able to bring your kids in a setting for them to see the work we’re doing, strictly pointed to the mission, and their ability to understand that is very neat,” said Budhram, director of the Surface Operations Support Division. “For them to be able to see the technology and exhibits and to learn about TSA history, I think, helps motivate them to do something maybe similar in their career paths within either the government or outside.” 

Take Your Daughters and Sons to Work Day was a big deal to these kids. Budhram’s 9-year-old daughter Hailey enjoyed getting to know many of the people at headquarters, some of whom work with her dad. She’s pretty proud of him. 

“I think his job is really cool and very important,” said Hailey. “He’s like a superhero saving the world.” 

By Don Wagner, TSA Strategic Communications & Public Affairs