MARCH 2020

Employment of health care occupations is projected to grow 14% from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations.
Medical Assistant students practice taking blood pressure in the simulated doctor’s office. 
Simulated Medical Office Offers Practical Experience
A fully outfitted “doctor’s office” at the Career and Technical Education Center at PNW BOCES gives Health Academy students an opportunity to experience what it’s like to work in a clinical setting.  

The clinical office is equipped with everything one might find when seeing a doctor. The students can practice interviewing patients, conducting vision tests, setting patients up for an EKG, and taking vitals, like blood pressure. 

“It allows us to get the students college- and career-ready,” said CTE teacher Maria Pontbriand, who added that her students have enjoyed making use of the new equipment. “This way, when they get into a work situation, they can hit the ground running.”

The students agree: “I’m a visual learner, so this is really helpful,” said Madina Habibova, a senior from Hendrick Hudson High School.  
“I feel like I’m one step ahead of the game,” said Kaylah Harrington, also from Hendrick Hudson High School. 

“It’s really helpful — we get to see everything as it would be in a real medical situation,” said Deverly Cabrera, a senior from Walter Panas High School. 

The one-year Medical Assistant program equips students for jobs in a physician’s office, group practice office or medical clinic.
Carpentry at the Tech Center:
Learning Skills for Life
CTE teacher Steve Simpson works with Carpentry students on projects.
The afternoon Carpentry classroom at the Tech Center at PNW BOCES is a busy place, with no two students working on the same task. One is using a circular saw, another tightening a clamp. Yet another is looking in a closet for a particular color stain. And that’s just how teacher Steve Simpson likes it to be. 

“Everyone’s hard at work, focused on their own task and working at their own pace,” he explained. Simpson, who has been teaching at the Tech Center for 33 years, conducts his classroom with the skills of a maestro. 

He teaches about 40 high school juniors and seniors over three periods a day. The morning session is a Core program designed to encourage academics through tech skills. This small-group instruction class also includes many students in the bilingual trades program, mostly Spanish speakers. With the help of teaching assistant and translator Rose Guthman, the students learn basic carpentry skills. If their English and carpentry skills are sufficient, students may move on to the Regents program for their senior year. 

The afternoon session is more advanced. This is a Regents-level class where students learn how to safely use all the tools needed for both finish and rough carpentry. They learn about hand tools, measuring tools, portable power and cordless tools, such as nail guns as well as stationary equipment, including table, band and panel saws. These students also get instruction in trade-related English and math and earn high school credit in these subjects.
“Those who stay on task with all the required skills, with a grade B or higher, can build projects for their homes: chairs, tables, library shelving, that kind of thing,” said Simpson. “Some bring in furniture for repair.” Simpson said students in this class also work on repairs of anything on the BOCES campus.  

James Mazzarisi, a senior at Putnam Valley High School, said he loves his time at the Tech Center. “I looked at Tech because I wanted to try something new, and I love it here," he said. James plans to go on to Westchester Community College for an associate degree.

Students in this Regents program can earn 10-hour OSHA certification and also get NCCER (National Center for Construction Education and Research) certificates, enabling them to go straight into the workforce and union after graduation. Carpenters make up the largest building trades occupation in the construction industry, and those with all-around skills are in high demand. Simpson said many of his students start work after graduation but many others go on to fine-tune their skills in college programs at places like SUNY Delhi or Oswego. Others make plans for different careers but will always have those carpentry skills they learned at the Tech Center. 

Walter Panas High School senior Julieanna Cordone falls into that category. The only girl in the senior class this year, Julieanna values the program for finessing her carpentry skills. “I grew up building stuff with my dad and like to do things like this,” she said. “I already knew how to use a lot of the tools, but here I really learned how to use them properly.” Working on an elaborate table that she plans to give to the Tech Center’s front office, Julieanna is confident that she can make anything she wants to. 

She plans to go to college to become a math teacher, “but carpentry will always play a part in my life,” she said. “Maybe in the summers I can work in a wood shop,” she mused. 
Julieanna said she really likes the CTE environment and the people. “It’s like a second home and involves something that I love to do, so that’s even better.” She said the Tech Center is also a “good way to make new friends—social media can only go so far!”
Health Academy Students Collaborate Through Hands-on Learning
Sports Medicine students demonstrate soft-injury therapy modalities to Medical Assistant students as part of their collaborative hands-on learning.
One of the many perks of being a Health Academy student is the hands-on learning and collaboration that goes on between programs. Sports Medicine students put their knowledge into action recently when they collaborated with Medical Assistant students in a unit on soft-tissue healing. 

“Medical assistants employed in medical offices or clinics need to know how to promote tissue healing for patients who experience injury,” said Medical Assistant teacher Maria Pontbriand, “so this was a perfect exercise.”

The second-year Sports Medicine students enthusiastically shared their knowledge on how soft-tissue injuries respond to therapies such as ice, heat, and massage, reviewing the physiological mechanism of each modality when applied to a patient with a soft-tissue injury. 

The students followed up with a hands-on demonstration of the modalities with the Medical Assistant students. Sports Medicine students also demonstrated the use of crutches, canes, and wheelchairs and gave an overview of each, explaining their respective roles in recovery. “The Medical Assistant students had the opportunity to use the equipment and develop a real sense of what the patient would experience,” said Pontbriand.

Sports Medicine teacher Dr. Will Brightman and Pontbriand agree that student teaching and collaboration is effective for both sets of students. 

“Both groups of students greatly benefitted from this format of teaching, which underscores the value of students teaching students,” said Brightman. Added Pontbriand, “We look forward to a continued collaboration of students in the Health Academy, as this prepares them for the health care teams that they will be a part of some day.” 
Tech Center and Pines Bridge Pair Up for Valentine’s Day Activity
As they helped Pines Bridge students make Valentine’s Day cards recently, several PNW BOCES CTE students interested in Special Education got a glimpse of the challenges and rewards of life in the classroom. 

“It was a very good learning experience,” said Laura Jones, a student from the Putnam Valley school district. Laura, Alyssa DiSilvio of Mahopac and Kaydee Gonzalez of Yorktown all said that gaining classroom experience in different settings has helped them decide to pursue Special Education in college next year. Kaydee, who has already interned in a Special Education classroom in her district, said helping out in a Pines Bridge Transitions class confirmed for her that she is making the right career choice. 

The three students, who are seniors in Melissa Davis’ Child Development and Education Class, were the first participants in a mentor partnership between the Tech Center and the Pines Bridge School. Three other CTE students will participate in the next session.  

“The goal is to try to have a mentor partnership in which my students learn and gain experience from the Pines Bridge students and vice versa,” Davis said. “Many of my students who volunteered to go over are interested in pursuing careers in Special Education.” The students will work in Transitions classes, which serve older students with developmental delays, multiple disabilities and autism spectrum disorder.

Pines Bridge Transitions teacher Brina Gartner said the new partnership gives the CTE students experience working with students who have significant challenges, noting that the Special Education field comprises children and young people with a wide variety of learning and physical issues. For her students, the experience offers a chance to have “positive experiences with new people” – important for a class of older students who will be transitioning to new, more adult settings after Pines Bridge. 

The partnership was arranged by Jane Thorpe, the work-based learning coordinator for the Special Education Department, and Melissa Crea, who handles internships for the Tech Center. 

PHOTO ABOVE: CTE students get Special Education experience through a mentoring program with the Pines Bridge School.
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Editor: Karen Thornton Designer: Valerie Laudato