Monticello High School Health and Medical Science Academy
The Monticello High School Health and Medical Science Academy is a program designed to provide opportunities to students interested in the health or medical science fields to get a first hand look at what the fields entail.
After teachers, administrators, and school board members toured the University of Virginia's Medical School facilities, they became interested in putting together a program for Albemarle County students to start their explorations before reaching college. After months of planning, the Academy began accepting applications around January 2012 for the 2012-13 school year. With an opening class of 23 students, the Academy was up and running in August of 2012.
For the 2012-13 school year, the Academy is primarily staffed by three Monticello High School instructors. The director is Katina Dudley, a biology and anatomy teacher at the high school. Jeremy Dove, another biology teacher, and John Mitchem, a physical education, sports medicine, and health instructor, are also involved. Acting as the primary instructor and teaching nearly every day, Dove covers the biology curriculum during his instruction time. Dudley teaches the First Aid and CPR section of the curriculum, and Mitchem covers the Health 9 material. University of Virginia undergraduates are also incorporated into the classroom as mentors to the students and occasionally as speakers. Dudley remarked in her interview that the students seem to easily connect with the undergrads because of their similarity in age. Guest lecturers are brought in occasionally to provide the insight of those employed in the field.
The HMSA program is geared towards helping students make connections within the classroom instead of on their own. However, in order to accomplish this, the introduction of the material is in the reading done outside of class. Because of the nature of the program, all students selected to participate have a strong interest in health or medical science. According to Dudley and Dove, the level of engagement is extremely high, because each and every student is sincerely interested in what they are learning. They also stated that students see the program as a medical course, not a biology class. In discussion, the students constantly bring the conversation back to medicine and the applications of the material to medicine.
Students enrolled in the Academy are receiving 2.5 credits on their transcripts. However, in order to earn these credits, they must be in the classroom for two blocks versus the usual one per course. The students also receive the extra .5 credit for Health 9 since they are learning the material through the Academy. After spending the majority of the first two years in the program inside the classroom, the students will receive the opportunity to further pursue their specific interests within the field through a local internship or a research project.
Currently, the HMSA program is housed within two classrooms at Monticello High School. However, the program has already transformed the area around those two classrooms. There are glass doors that were installed the summer before the opening of the Academy enclosing the upper "blue hallway", as it is referred to by the high school. There have also been couches and chairs equipped with movable writing surfaces, typically the kind you'd find in a college lecture hall, but on a couch as well as tables with built-in outlets installed in the common area outside the classrooms in that hallway. Inside the HMSA classrooms, there are rolling tables and chairs instead of the typical desks and special lab stations with equipped with computers. Dudley explained the thought behind the setup was to create "a classroom where the students can learn, not a classroom in which to teach". According to Dudley and Dove, Albemarle County has been extremely accommodating in providing all the materials the Academy has requested.
The HMSA program hopes to see huge growth in the next couple of years. This growth will extend beyond the students of the academy, though. Dudley said that she hopes to incorporate classes such as micro-biology, duel enrollment psychology, and other courses through Piedmont Virginia Community College and the University of Virginia. However, these courses have the potential to be open to all Monticello High School students, benefitting a far wider range of students.
Personal Interview with Katina Dudley. 8 Jan 2013.
Personal Interview with Jeremy Dove. 8 Jan 2013.
Web. Area high school responds to workforce needs with medical-biotech academy, Megan Davis, The Daily Progress, Jan 22, 2012, retrieved January 07, 2013.
Web. Area helping its students and sciences, The Daily Progress, March 02, 2012, retrieved Jan 07, 2013.
Web. Career-track academies distinguishing Albemarle school, Megan Davis, The Daily Progress, April 01, 2012, retrieved Jan 07, 2013.