Superintendent Matt Akin told the Piedmont City School board during a Tuesday meeting that the school system is in the early stages of planning the “health science” program. Akin will meet with employees from Regional Medical Center, Gadsden State Community College and Jacksonville State University today to seek advice about how the program should be structured.
“Before we get too far into developing what it will look like, we want to talk to people in the field,” Akin said.
A health science program at Piedmont schools would give middle and high school students the chance to take courses to prepare for jobs such as nursing or emergency medical care, Akin said.
He added that the school might offer a survey course on medical professions, a class on medical terminology or the foundations of nursing through the planned program.
High school programs that introduce students to the medical field are common, but Akin said Piedmont’s project would be unique because it would serve students sooner.
“It’s not typical to start the program in the middle school, but we’re trying to start a little bit earlier,” Akin said.
The program will fold into a grant-funded project that the middle school is already using to change the way students learn. That project has students use Internet programs that monitor their academic progress, and teachers use that data to determine the day’s coursework for each student.
“The clock and the calendar shouldn’t determine how long you're in a certain subject,” Akin said. “It ought be mastery.”
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awarded the project’s $100,000 grant at the start of the school year.
Akin said the system decided to develop a health science program because health care is second on the list of industries that need more qualified personnel in northeast Alabama. Topping the list, he said, is manufacturing.
Staff writer Laura Gaddy: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LGaddy_Star.