CTE Classes at Walkertown High Return to Hands-On Learning
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By Kim Underwood
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools
OCTOBER 8, 2020 – A human anatomy mannequin was set up at the front of Tonya Scott’s EMT class at Walkertown High. The mannequin’s plastic organs were spread out on a nearby table, and senior Haillie Sain was picking up one organ at a time and placing it inside the mannequin as a way to learn more about the anatomy of the human body.
After starting the year taking the EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) class remotely, Sain said, it was good to be back in the classroom.
“Now, we’re doing hands-on, and that helps a lot,” she said.
There is a lot to learn. Scott held up a stack of 50 sheets of paper filled with skill after skill that students have to master before they receive their EMT certification.
Although coming back to class has its own set of challenges, Scott said, being able to work hands-on helps students master those skills.
Earlier this month, the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education pass a phased re-opening plan that will gradually have students make the transition from remote learning to a blend of in-person and remote classes. The first group of students to return to the classroom were those attending Career & Technical Education (CTE) classes that require hands-on learning. They returned to the classroom on Oct. 5.
Elsewhere in the building at Walkertown High on the morning of Wednesday Oct. 7, two other CTE classes – Nursing Fundamentals with Elizabeth York and Fire Academy with Chief Eddie Bottoms – were also meeting.
For the past 20 years, Scott has been working on ambulances so she has lots of experience dealing with infectious diseases and knows the challenges that come with that. She started this particular class by showing the proper way to put on and take off disposable gloves. Everyone was already wearing a mask.
Scott chose to become a teacher because she wanted “to train others to join in a profession I have enjoyed. I enjoyed providing care.”
In Scott’s class, students were working on different hands-on projects. Over by a window, Senior Brenna Histon was working with the model of a heart.
“I like being in a class,” Hinton said. “I feel like the way I learn is hands-on. It helps me to be in class.”
Senior Billy Massey was standing by the plastic human skeleton identifying different parts.
He is glad to be back in the classroom, he said. “it is so much better.”
He appreciates what Scott does for the students.
“She is great,” he said. “She is very helpful.”
Sain also appreciates what Scott does for her students.
“She is understanding and take times to tell us what everything means,” Sain said.
Plus, Scott tells really interesting stories about her experiences working on an ambulance.
As a learning exercise, students in a previous class had created a life-size drawing of a human body that included organs. Seniors A.J. Joyce and Aidan Follas were taking the preliminary steps to creating one for their class.
“I prefer it here rather than on the computer – face-to-face discussion rather than on the computer,” Follas said.
In Elizabeth York’s Nursing Fundamentals class on another floor, students were working at two stations.
At one station, a student would work with a medical mannequin seated in a wheelchair. As the student took care of various procedures, York would note what was being done properly and what needed to be approached differently.
At another station were three hospital beds. One had a medical mannequin. On the other two, students would take turns serving as the “medical mannequin” as they practiced such techniques as helping a patient in and out of a bed while taking care not to injure themselves.
“They are practicing body mechanics skills,” York said.
York was glad to have her students back in class. It’s just not possible to do such things over a computer, she said. “It’s just not real life.”
One thing that students won’t be able to do at all is spend time working in a nursing home. In a regular year, students would spend 40 hours working in a nursing home.
“We are making do,” York said.
Students who complete the class receive their CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) credentials. Some go on to working on a degree in nursing in college.
Senior Brianna Lawary is one of those who plans to go on to college to earn a degree in nursing.
“I feel like, if I get my CNA, it will give me a step ahead,” Lawary said.
She envisions working as a neonatal nurse.
“I just really like helping babies, and I’m really good with them,” she said.
Learning remotely has been hard, she said. “It was really difficult because we couldn’t do the hands-on learning.”
Senior Daysia Hope also wants to become a neonatal nurse and plans to enter the nursing program at Winston-Salem State Univeristy.
“I plan on working in the hospital as a CAN while I go to college,” she said.
Remote learning has been a lot of work for Hope because she had two younger sisters – one in sixth grade and one in first grade – and, while their parents are at work, she has been taking responsibility for helping them with their school work.
“I’m their teacher every day,” Hope said. “I’m always busy.”
Now that she is coming to school for Nursing Fundamentals, her sisters are going to the home of another family member.
Hope said that, as soon as she learned from York that they might be able come back, she got excited, and she is delighted to be able to come in now.
“I love it,” she said.
And she is glad to be working with York.
“She is excited about our future,” Hope said. “She completely has faith in all of us.”
York, who has been teacher at Walkertown High for six years, has also taught part-time at Glenn and North Forsyth high schools. She is from Danbury, where her grandmother, Pat Priddy, owns Priddy’s General Store and her aunt, Jane Priddy Charleville, manages the store.
In his Fire Fighter Academy class, Chief Eddie Bottoms was talking to students about Lateral Impact, Impact Load, Static Load, Gravity Resistance and much more in connection with the structural challenges that a firefighter could face.
During that time, he touched on such topics as glass being a liquid – just visit Old Salem if you want to see the what happens to glass over many years, he told them – and wind speeds that would take a roof off of a house and the steps that needed to be taken to enable the roof to withstand higher wind speeds.
During a break, Bottoms made the point that, while you might think such information could be passed along such fine remotely, that is not the case. For students to be certified by the N.C. Fire and Rescue Commission, they must be taught all of the required information in person.
So he is glad that students are now able to meet in person so they can be certified.
Having the CTE classes come back in person does present logistical challenges. Students have to get to the school on their own and then they have to get back home so they can take their remote-learning classes. When he can, he lets students out of his class a few minutes early so they will have a little more time to get back home.
Some students who are waiting for a ride may set up in his office so they can take the next class remotely. To make sure that social distancing is in place, he makes sure that not too many students use the office at once.
At one point during the class, he had his students take their fire gear into the hall, and, after spreading out, everyone put on their gear.
“Everyone has their own set of gear – their own helmet,” Bottoms said.
Senior Gabe Ransom has been taking classes that support him on his way to becoming a professional firefighter ever since he was a freshman.
As for having to take all classes remotely, Ransom said, “it’s been a little tough.”
“I am very happy to be back and happy to get certification through the school.”
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