Hospital, Schools To Develop Curriculum

By Michael Alison Chandler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 28, 2006

Loudoun County School Superintendent Edgar B. Hatrick III announced a partnership this week between the school system and Inova Loudoun Hospital to develop courses that will give more high school students hands-on training in medical professions.

The Claude Moore Charitable Foundation has given the venture a push with a $150,000 donation, which was presented to the partners before Hatrick's "State of Education" address at a Chamber of Commerce meeting Tuesday morning.

The training programs could offer a solution to staffing shortages at hospitals and become a national model, said J. Hamilton Lambert, executive director of the Fairfax County-based foundation.

"We're plowing new ground," Lambert said.

Once the curriculum has been developed, schools officials hope to offer the classes at the proposed Monroe Advanced Technology Academy. The academy, which is to replace C.S. Monroe Technology Center in Leesburg, is planned for a 101-acre property in Ashburn that was bought from the Islamic Saudi Academy after the school scrapped plans to build a campus there.

The $70 million technology academy was scheduled to open in 2009, but the opening has been deferred so that the county can seek private funding instead of having to put the project up for a vote in a bond referendum.

School Board members looked at preliminary designs for the academy at their meeting Tuesday night and saw a pedestrian-friendly campus that would be near to high-technology businesses.

One goal for the academy is to focus on partnerships with nearby businesses and encourage internships at companies in Loudoun such as America Online Inc. and Orbital Sciences Corp.

Monroe serves about 430 students and offers about 20 programs in its 30-year-old, 10-acre facility, including building construction, culinary arts, television production, welding and cosmetology.

The new academy would allow the district to expand enrollment to 1,000 students and provide room for new classes, including aviation mechanics and the expanded health and medical sciences program.

"We want to expand into various programs," said Monroe Principal Wagner Grier. "We just don't have space."

The medical curriculum will go beyond the nursing courses now offered. The medical program could include phlebotomy and pharmacy and surgical technician courses.

"The goal is to expose high school students to an array of careers in medicine," said Tony Raker, spokesman for Inova Loudoun Hospital.

Students will be able to gain work experience at Inova Loudoun Hospital and will have the option of attending area colleges to continue their training, Lambert said.

At the chamber meeting Tuesday, Hatrick said he strongly supported giving high school students practical career experience. He said he was concerned about the number of students going to college without any idea why they are going.

"We need to expose students earlier to the vast array of career choices," he said.

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