This month’s School Spotlight is on Dr. Angelia Washington, a health sciences teacher at Lejeune High School.
Washington’s class falls under the Career and Technical Education (CTE) umbrella and provides students the opportunity to become a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) in high school.
Washington is not only respected by her students but loved.
“I’m usually so scared of everything, but with Dr. Washington, it’s like I’m with Mom,” said Caitlin Nowell, a senior in Washington’s Health Sciences II/Nurse Aide Training Program who wants to be a trauma nurse.
“Dr. Washington vouched for me to get me in this class,” said senior Kaya Rostocil. “I wouldn’t be at this school if it weren’t for her.” Rostocil wants to become a midwife.
The Health Sciences II class has strenuous requirements such as a B-plus average in the course’s previous edition as well as various certifications, but it is one that is well worth the work, according to Washington.
“Even if these students wake up tomorrow and say ‘never mind, I don’t want to go into the medical field. I’ll study business,’ they’ll still have these skills and this experience. This is something they can take with them for the rest of their lives,” said Washington.
What encouraged you to pursue your job as an educator?
The words of wisdom from a former high school teacher, Mr. Horace Shephard. Over my professional career, I remained in contact with him, and he would describe the attributes I possessed to become an effective educator and role model. Throughout our conversations, he would always ask me “so when are you going to decide to become a teacher?” Needless to say, after completing my master’s degree, I transitioned from the dual role of elementary school nurse/social worker to nurse educator teaching the Career and Technical Education nurse aide training program for high school students.
What encouraged you to pursue education within your specific age level/curriculum?
The youngest population in which this CTE program is offered is among high school students. Although this program is offered in post-secondary institutions such as community colleges and vocational schools, CTE programs that are offered in high school afford students opportunities for career exposure at an early age.
What is your main educational philosophy?
To help my students discover their passion for learning and to help them to succeed in their endeavors.
What is a lesson you have learned from your students?
I have learned from my students that all the hard work and time invested in them was not in vain. At times, students are like your own children. You go through and endure the growing pains with them, but when they succeed, and they will, you experience the joys and elation of helping them to achieve a portion of their life’s journey. It’s a wonderful experience watching my students grow and develop before my eyes.
What is your favorite part of being an educator?
I love teaching high school students and the diversity and idiosyncrasies they bring to the classroom environment. Because many of them are interested in becoming health care professionals, I’m constantly teaching them how to grasp the understanding of civility, compassion and empathy and the application of these skills into the real world experience.
What advice would you give to upcoming/new educators?
You will make a difference in the life of your students; therefore, you are the difference!
What are three words that would describe your life outside of the classroom?
Community and social involvement. Over the last eight years, I served as an elected official on the Jacksonville City Council. It has been my honor to serve and address the needs of the citizens of the city of Jacksonville and Camp Lejeune. I love my hometown, and I’m thankful for the opportunities that have helped to make my life desires come true.
What is a favorite memory from your career?
As a brand new registered nurse, my first famous patient was James Irwin, NASA astronaut and Apollo 15 pilot.
What advice would you give to a parent of a high schooler?
Embrace CTE programs and its value to your son/daughter’s learning experience. Also, to realize that students have the opportunities to benefit from CTE and core courses and have the best of both worlds while in high school. They should embrace both and not feel they have to choose one over the other.
What changes would you like to see implemented in the school system within the next five years?
All Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) high schools will have a CTE Health Sciences/Nurse Aide program. As baby boomers continue to age, and the health care system provides preventative and maintenance care to extend the life span of consumers, society will need to equip and train health care professionals to tend to the health needs from the most vulnerable to the well insured. CTE programs are essential and valuable for the preparation of high school students and their futures.
What are the biggest challenges you face as an educator in a military town?
Deployment and permanent changes of station. When a student has to relocate to another duty station, their void is felt in the classroom among their peers and teachers.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about being an educator?
My students remind me of my younger self when I was in high school, and I see them through my eyes. My future goal was to become a nurse or physician. While I was in high school, I enrolled in college prep courses and CTE health occupations, and felt I had the best of both worlds. Both experiences prepared me for college and my life’s ambition to become a nurse educator. It looks like Mr. Shephard was right on target.