Virginia is for (Science) Lovers

In Albemarle County, Virginia, the public school division is debuting a Health and Medical Sciences Academy this fall. Public high school students throughout the county will apply for a four-year program with a curricular concentration on skill sets that will serve state and national needs in the healthcare, pharmaceutical and research industries.

Dr. Pamela R. Moran, Superintendent of Albemarle County Public Schools, Photo courtesy of Jen Fariello

In the following guest blog post, Dr. Pamela R. Moran, Superintendent of Albemarle County Public Schools, discusses this innovative program and offers insight as to why it is such an important model other counties and states should copy:

There will continue to be tremendous growth in the healthcare and pharmaceutical fields over the next several years. Virginia’s employment commission projects that between 2008 and 2018, more than 12,000 jobs will have been created in healthcare technical and support operations and among practitioners. Employment in the state’s bioscience industry is growing at four times the rate of all other industries combined.

The Albemarle academy will be unique in its academic approach—beginning with an integrated core curriculum developed around areas of study with a health and medical science concentration. Latin, for instance, will be required as the foreign language course, while history, science, and other core subjects will incorporate concepts linked to the study of medicine. Specialized content, such as biomedical innovations, will be added in junior and senior years.

In our Mission Statement, we emphasize relationships, relevance and rigor, and at the top of our list of strategic goals is preparing students to excel in the global community and in a global economy. This Academy will require quality relationships in its reliance upon a broad community of expert advisors, relevance in its incorporation of private sector priorities and rigor in its academic standards.

To ensure agility and alignment with the private sector, the academy will be influenced by an external advisory board, create job shadowing and internship opportunities and use case studies to advance student competencies in real-time critical and strategic analysis.

Monticello High School (Charlottesville, VA), future home of the Health and Medical Sciences Academy

The Health and Medical Sciences Academy will include three career pathways: allied health technicians, to include a range of industry certification programs; bio-engineering, to include Genetic Engineering and laboratory research and science and medical practitioners to include M.D., D.D.S., RN and LPN.

This fall, the first entering class will consist of 50 students and each year 50 students will be added until the academy reaches its full complement of 200 students. Modeled after the county’s highly acclaimed Math and Science Academy (MESA) at Albemarle High School, teachers and counselors will identify and nurture potential student applicants as early as in elementary school.

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