I am pleased to have accepted the interim director position at DAOES/Technology Center of DuPage for the 2015-16 school year. This is my second term, as I also served in 2008-09.
However, my history with DAOES/TCD goes back even further. I sat on the original DAVEA (now DAOES) Board of Control, representing Fenton High School District 100 from 1975 to 1985 and again from 2000 to 2007. The board and the director work together to develop and support career studies that prepare students for the demands of a changing, global job market.
Through this long association, I have witnessed the success of countless students who have participated in TCD's high-quality career and technical education programs. These students, from 14 participating school districts, intentionally prepare to be both college- and career-ready. They earn industry-recognized credentials and college credits while completing their academic high school coursework.
Along with the industry and related academic skills that are part of our standards, we put a heavy emphasis on the transferable skills everyone in the working world needs: being responsible for one's own actions, showing up for work on time, putting in a full day's worth of work every day and providing excellent customer service. The career electives may change, but not these critical skills.
Knowing how TCD responds to the marketplace, I was not surprised to learn that four of our 20 available electives are in the rapidly expanding health care field: Health Care Foundations, Nursing Assistant Training, Emergency Medical Technician and Medical Terminology and Health Careers.
Each of these rigorous programs is one year in length, offering the opportunity for college credit and an industry credential.
The Health Care Foundations program, beginning 2016-17, will be introductory. The curriculum will cover basic anatomy, physiology and the health care delivery system, preparing students for TCD's advanced electives or a college health care program of study.
The nursing assistant and EMT programs prep students for state or national industry exams. Last year, 95 percent of TCD's nursing assistant students who sat for the state competency exam passed the first time around. Similarly, the past two years, 100 percent of TCD's EMT students taking the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians exam earned that national license.
The Medical Terminology and Health Careers program is a combination of two college-level courses: biomedical terminology and survey of health care careers. During the year, students research career pathways while covering the terms, pathologies and procedures related to each body system and medical specialty.
A registered nurse, MTHC instructor Debbora Sharifi notes that medical terminology is often a prerequisite for admission to college health care programs of study.
"Developing this common, foundational language is critical for success in this wide-ranging field," she said.
Proving her point, some of Sharifi's alumni include a Ph.D. candidate in biology, a pathologist, a pharmacy technician, a nurse practitioner, and a county health and safety specialist.
Alumna Nicolette Yonkee, part of the Lake Park Class of 2015, recently emailed Sharifi, expressing appreciation for her class. Now pursuing a degree in sonography through College of DuPage, Yonkee wrote: "Your class has already played a huge role in my college experience."
Sharifi uses SMART Board activities, interactive website games, authentic lab dissections and exercises, and even clay figures to keep students engaged. These progressive learning tools provide a visual association with the written word that has proved memorable, as Yonkee confirmed.
"The strategies you used to help us learn taught me in a way that the (health care) language is forever engraved in my brain," she wrote. "From the actual material itself to study habits I learned in your class, I feel a tremendous amount of confidence taking anatomy and physiology this year."
TCD's health care electives illustrate how we are adapting, evolving and constantly re-evaluating programs to make sure they build valuable skills, prepare students for further education and meet the expectations of our greater community.
• Alf Logan is interim director of the DuPage Area Occupational Education System, the governing body for Technology Center of DuPage and other CTE delivery sites in the region. See tcdupage.org for participating member high schools and information about TCD's advanced CTE electives, dual credit and industry certifications.