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GAME CHANGING BIO-MED GRANT AWARDED TO MIDDLETOWN HIGH SCHOOL
MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (OCTOBER 27, 2021) – The Middletown school system earned a $500,000 grant for the biomedical program at Middletown High.
Educational officials were thrilled with the recent news about the money awarded through the Department of Defense Education Activity grant, which will help take the Valley Road school’s “Career Pathways” program to the next level.
Principal Jeff Heath said work was already underway to make the most of the funding, whether it was adding staff, improving classroom space or bringing in new equipment.
“When we heard the news, we were absolutely elated,” Heath said. “Our ‘Career Pathways’ programs have been fully embraced here at the high school and we’re so excited about their potential, whether it’s making our students career ready or that much more prepared for college. This is a real game changer for us.”
A familiar complaint in some circles these days is that secondary schools don’t do enough to get students ready today for the “real world.”
Aware of this criticism and driven to help every Middletown student achieve, the school put in a dedicated “Career Pathways” program about half a dozen years ago.
Rolling out engineering first followed a short time later by computer science, the schools have used the widely acclaimed “Project Lead The Way” curriculum as the backbone of the programs.
Heath said each pathway has strong support among the student body, both among those planning on going to college and those ready to go for a job after Middletown High.
This is especially true with the bio-medical program, which had 116 students enrolled, or about one-fifth of the total student body at Middletown High.
One of the draws of the “Career Pathways” programs was the learning wasn’t abstract, but totally hands on, he said.
“Just as one example, while you might be learning in biology class about something that seems complex and would have nothing to do with you life, you’re a crime scene detective in bio-med, using the concepts you’re taught to investigate a crime in real time,” Heath said. “When you see it in person, there’s no question how much students are drawn to this form of learning.”
“There are so many exciting things happening in our high school, really all of our schools,” Superintendent Rosemarie K. Kraeger said. “The high school of 20 years ago is so much different and student directed. They have real choices and can pursue exactly what they’re most interested in all while getting a strong foundation of education.”
According to information on its website, the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) has awarded grants since 2009 to Local Education Agency schools like Middletown High that serve military students.
Over that time, the DoDEA has provided more than $522 million to such schools through close to 500 grants. The goal of the effort is to provide the best learning environment to military-connected students, increase professional development and enhance social and emotional supports.
Heath said the grant will help the school create a dedicated biomedical classroom space. Currently, the program uses a converted science lab, which gets the job now, but doesn’t help drive things to the next level.
The funding would also help chart a path with experimental work where the students’ efforts could do good in the wider community. As an example, Heath said through the biomedical program, the high school could print usable, professional quality prosthetics for those less fortunate.
While not to that level yet, Heath said the possibilities are endless and engaging for all students, no matter their area of interest.
“We have a great mix of students in each of these pathways,” Heath said. “There are so many possibilities here with this and we can’t say ‘Thank you!’ enough for this grant funding and the opportunity.”