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High marks from industry for SEHS health occupations
South Effingham High School’s health occupations instruction received rave reviews from a team of health care professionals. - photo by Photo provided

South Effingham High School’s health occupation courses received industry certification last week.

The class moved into the new room in January.

SEHS’ career, technical and agricultural education supervisor Angela Wood said certification involves a group coming in to check lesson plans, equipment and student work.

“They check everything to do with (the teacher’s) program,” she said. “They will verify that what she has here will be up to standard like at Memorial (University Medical Center).”

A number of health care professionals and health care educators formed the committee to determine certification.

Wood said all of teacher Laura Mesmer’s plans follow the new Georgia Performance Standards, and this is the first year the courses have been taught with the new standards.

“She’s one of the first to be certified with the GPS,” Wood said. “To me, it was a really exciting deal because normally you’ll get some kind of recommendation. You get your commendations, and then your recommendations on how to do some more, and we really didn’t get any recommendations.”

Mesmer said the group told her everything was good.

Wood said it was the first time she had seen a team not give a recommendation to further improve a program.

“(Mesmer) had to do lesson plans with an objective,” Wood said. “You had to correlate the objective to student work, and correlate the student work to evaluation. It made a complete curriculum cycle.”

Wood said Mesmer has worked very hard during the certification process. Mesmer said the extra work has come from putting equipment together as it arrives for the class.

Wood said it was a big undertaking for Mesmer to come in January and equip the new classroom, do the paperwork for industry certification and teach her class.

Wood said in Georgia being industry certified is the “pinnacle” — if the program is industry certified, that’s a big deal to those at the state Department of Education.

Mesmer said it means students are being taught things they would need to know to go into a working health care environment.

“It means you’re teaching your students the HIPPA laws, legal responsibilities, things that they need to be able to go into the health care facilities,” she said.

Wood said she believes one thing that has helped Mesmer teach the students is that Mesmer still works at Memorial as a registered nurse.

“She’s out actually in the field maybe one weekend out of the month, and that’s a big deal because she sees what’s going on, and she can come back here and say this is how we really do it in the hospital,” Wood said.

Mesmer said it also helps her students be able to begin working earlier because the program has the recognition of industry professionals.

“It opens the doors for them to get their (certified nursing assistant) and then get their care technical certification,” she said. “The lady who recruits was here, so I can send her my best students and they can start working in a hospital, not have to wait two or three years when they’re in nursing school or medical school.”

Mesmer said she has a former student who is working at a hospital in Macon while he is working on his pre-med degree.

Wood said there are a number of Mesmer’s former students who are working in the medical field or working toward nursing or medical degrees.

“We feel like this is our star program right now,” Wood said. “We have a larger lab and better equipment than some technical colleges.”

Wood said the school received a $55,000 grant to equip the new lab, and Mesmer receives $15,000 more for the lab for completing the certification process.

Wood said the certification will last five years — at that time Mesmer will be up for recertification.

“I felt confident that Ms. Mesmer would do well because she is one of the GPS trainer for the state of Georgia,” Wood said. “She’s helping train all the other nursing health care teachers in the state.”

Mesmer said she is glad the process is completed.

“There were many sleepless nights,” she said.

She said the difficult part was analyzing lessons to make sure everything that is taught is written down. She said there are areas such as math that are covered in lessons, but she had to make sure those objectives were written in the lesson plans.

Mesmer said it’s nice to have industry professionals come in and say that what she is teaching is what they want students to learn. Wood said other programs in the school will work toward the certification process.

“Next year we’ll be going through the process in construction and transportation,” Wood said. “Our goal is every program that can be industry certified we want to be industry certified.”