Northside Hospital Cherokee Education Coordinator Mary Jane O’Dell and students who have participated in CCSD’s Work Based Learning programs at the hospital and Pinnacle Orthopaedics speak during the regional Work Based Learning meeting hosted by CCSD.
The Cherokee County School District celebrated its Work-Based Learning program with regional guests and special recognitions of partners that help with this important career education initiative.
The Work-Based Learning program provides CCSD high school students the opportunity to explore possible careers through working in school partners’ places of business. The School District this month for the first time hosted a regional Work Based Learning meeting, with high school career education teachers from across the state in attendance to learn about one of CCSD’s programs: healthcare science.
CCSD’s healthcare science students have the opportunity to work through the program at Northside Hospital Cherokee and Pinnacle Orthopaedics. They rotate, over a school year, through different healthcare career opportunities ranging from surgery to nursing to physical therapy, and even spend time in emergency and operating rooms as part of the experience.
During the meeting, the visiting educators heard from students, as well as from Northside Hospital Cherokee and Pinnacle leaders, who were presented with awards of appreciation by CCSD, and then had the opportunity to tour the hospital. David Dunn, Etowah High School’s Work-Based Learning coordinator, organized and led the meeting.
CCSD’s program currently can place 40 students at Northside Hospital Cherokee and 20 at Pinnacle; the programs began there in 1997 and 2008, respectively, and have grown and continue to grow along with the partners’ businesses.
“We’re evaluating and recruiting at the same time through this program, and we’ve had students graduate and come back to work for us,” Northside Hospital Cherokee CEO Billy Hayes said. “If we can get these young adults to want to come back and work at the hospital, that’s the best. It’s so great to live in a community with a school system that has the resources we have and that we can partner with and complement.”
Donna Fisher, Chief Administrator Officer of Pinnacle, said they see the same value in the partnership.
“We show them what healthcare is like on daily basis,” she said. “These young adults are our future, and we appreciate them. They learn what they’re really leaning toward for their career.”
Six of the CCSD seniors currently in the program (Ashley Frye, Cherokee HS; Taylor Glass, Darby Pierce, Makenzie Rowell, Justin Sherrer, Etowah HS; Matthew Waldroop, Woodstock HS) and 2018 River Ridge High School graduate Hayden Van Hout, who now is studying at the University of Georgia to pursue a career in healthcare, spoke to the audience about their experiences.
Justin, who was recruited by Harvard University and will be attending the University of Maryland to study healthcare and play lacrosse, shared his story of how overcoming osteomyelitis inspired his career path.
“It’s a very special opportunity,” Justin said of the program, which confirmed his plan to become a pediatric orthopedic surgeon… even though he’s from a family of engineers. “There are so many healthcare careers to learn about, and I’ve been really grateful for the opportunity.”
Classmate Mackenzie Rowell said the program helped her decide on a healthcare career, calling the experience “life-changing.”
“I realized this is my passion,” she said.
CCSD Chief Academic Officer Dr. Nicole Holmes presents an award of appreciation to Northside Hospital Cherokee CEO Billy Hayes.
Northside Hospital Cherokee Education Coordinator Mary Jane O’Dell, second from left, and CCSD Work Based Learning students welcome CCSD and educators from across the region, including Susanne McCardle of Cherokee High School, for a tour of the hospital.