Zooming your kids into the work day

Wednesday, May 26, 2021
Deputy Assistant Federal Security Director Maria Chantre, TSA Manager Brian Cardona, Deputy Assistant Federal Security Director-Threat Assessment Program Karen Hegner, Assistant Federal Security Director-Screening Elizabeth Selecky, Deputy Assistant Federal Security Director Raymond Albanese, and Assistant Federal Security Director-Generalist Matthew McCalligett present the participant packets. (Photo courtesy of TSA BOS)

An exploding volcano usually isn’t a good thing, but if you participated in the 2021 Boston Logan International Airport’s (BOS) virtual Take Our Kids to Work Days, it was awesome!

Now in its 28th year, the nationally recognized day aims to give kids a peek into the working world of their parents, grandparents and other extended family members. “In previous years, TSA employees could bring their children to work, which provided a hands-on experience,” said BOS TSA Manager Brian Cardona.

The in-person event went dark last year due to the pandemic but was imaginatively recreated online this year for 45 lucky kids who have TSA family members serving at BOS. “When briefed on this year's idea and concept, I knew it would be a success – no doubt about it,” recalled Cardona.

homemade volcano erupts
A successful chemical reaction as a homemade volcano erupts. (Photo courtesy of TSA BOS)

Team members tapped into their inner child and designed an exciting, interactive program, mixing Zoom gatherings with a take-home packet jammed with cool activities.

“The world has changed over the last year, but it was great to still have the TSA Kids Day that my daughter has grown to look forward to,” said Assistant Federal Security Director-Generalist Matthew McCalligett. “This one day gives her insight into what her daddy does, and she is proud to be part of the TSA family.”

BOS Federal Security Director Bob Allison administered the oath of office, and the kids participated in a virtual screening experience and online canine meet-and-greet over a three-day period, which were supported with fun crossword puzzles, coloring pages and at-home activities.

The popular volcano activity introduced the young audience to the Transportation Security Specialist-Explosives (TSS-E) role and their mission to keep people with bad intent off of planes. Mixing approved chemicals to create energy in an erupting homemade clay volcano helped illustrate what TSS-Es look for when keeping air travelers safe. 

“My grandniece said she liked that I keep her safe with my dogs, and my granddaughter wants to be a canine handler when she grows up,” Deputy Assistant Federal Security Director-Threat Assessment Program Karen Hegner said about her family’s participation in the canine tour activity, one of the most popular of the whole event. [Her grandson] Robert exclaimed, “Yay, my volcano erupted!” when foam sputtered from the top of his clay creation.

TSA Officer Emily Murphy participated with her daughter. “[She] loved the virtual event. Her favorite parts were making a badge and seeing the dogs,” said Murphy. “She wants to be like Mom and work for TSA when she grows up.”

TSA Officer Carol Churchill was happy the virtual event was offered this year and said her son “was very proud to be sworn in with our oath as a junior officer.”

The kids weren’t the only ones having fun. Coordination Center Manager Robert Clair provided a visual tour of one of BOS’ bag rooms where the officers on duty “were excited their workplace was being shown to the families.”

Canine Handler
Canine Handler Brandon Denneen in action outside of a security checkpoint. (Photo courtesy of TSA BOS)

Deputy Assistant Federal Security Director Maria Chantre hosted one of the virtual sessions and “showed the kids the generic steps in the screening process. I enjoyed their participation and marveled at their cleverness,” Chantre said.

Assistant Federal Security Director-Screening Elizabeth Selecky, who spearheaded the effort, couldn’t have been more proud of the event. “It’s about committing to our people, building connections, sharing common interests and inspiring our children by providing an educational experience and glimpse of future possibilities,” said Selecky. “It was meaningful because we were able to provide support and normalcy for our children through the interaction of this multiday event.”

“This day has been just as important as the father-daughter dance has been with her school,” said McCalligett. “It was also great seeing everyone else’s kids happy and the proud parents and grandparents by their side. Just like my daughter, this event made me proud to be a part of the Boston TSA family.”