When teachers Kieara Morris and Stephanie Harrell spent a week at Lenoir UNC Health Care last August as part of the Teachers@Work program, they knew what they learned about careers in health care would culminate in a lesson plan that carried through their classrooms all the way back to the Kinston hospital.
That boomerang effect played out Wednesday when Morris, of Rochelle Middle School, and Harrell, of Contentnea-Savannah K-8 School, brought a small contingent of their top scholars back to Lenoir UNC for Students@Work.
“The teachers spent a week job-shadowing throughout the hospital,” Laura Ginn, a registered nurse who is an education specialist in staff development at the hospital, said. “Now they’ve implemented a lesson plan based off the skills they learned during their week. Their students are here to get hands-on experience and job shadowing with the different departments throughout the hospital, so they can apply the skills they learned in the classroom.”
Students@Work is a joint initiative between the North Carolina Business Committee for Education and the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. This is the second year Lenoir UNC has partnered with LCPS in this initiative and the second year the hospital has linked Teachers@Work with Students@Work.
“I think there’s an advantage to bringing both groups in,” Ginn said. “I think it’s important to invest this early in students because there are so many different careers, especially in the health-care field. They can get more of a feel for what they want to do specifically and pursue that vision.”
The 10 students – five from each school – heard from a dietitian and interacted with employees during stops in the physical therapy outpatient gym, radiology and the laboratory, gaining an understanding of the skills necessary to succeed in those diverse areas. More than 850 people work in the hospital.
“It’s way larger than what I ever imagined,” said Morris, a sixth-grade math teacher, in recalling her impression of the hospital during her Teachers@Work week. “It’s almost limitless as far as careers offered.”
Students@Work isn’t about career decisions as much as it’s about career awareness, the focus of LCPS’s Career and Technical Education program in middle schools and the first step in encouraging career exploration and career experience, which CTE emphasizes for high school students.
You can’t start too early, according to Morris.
“These are very good students and they have an idea of what they want to do, but they need a little more fostering,” she said. “Eighth grade is when they make the decision to go to Early College, when they can decide to take (high school courses) English I and Math I, so I really feel like it starts in sixth grade.”
Morris took back to her classroom an understanding of how math figures into the everyday life of Lenoir UNC, from the tiny measurements of medication to the big numbers in the insurance department. The lesson plan she developed involved rates and ratios, an effort to help students see how math works in the real world but also to better understand the costs of medical care.
Harrell, who facilitates instruction in the STEM Center at CSS, connected her lesson on the engineering design process to the hospital’s Lean Six Sigma process, an ongoing efficiency initiative “When you’re looking at your engineering design process, you’re always looking to make things better and more efficient; so it fit right in,” she said.
“With the teachers coming in and spending a week, they’re getting a little more experience,” the hospital’s Ginn said. “Then the students come in for a half day and get a condensed version of what the teachers got. They’ve already learned it in the classroom, so now they get to see it in person.”