Airway Heights’ educator’s approach to learning reminiscent of the former one-room schoolhouse she and her husband call home
By LUELLA DOW
Carol and Chris Kaplan live near Airway Heights in a cozy home that originally was a country school. Instilled in the students were the basic three R’s. As Kaplan spoke I was reminded of how far the world has advanced in technology, how we continually reach out for more knowledge and exploration. Those simple one-room schools were the foundation for America’s ever-widening view of our world.
Carol Kaplan’s love of science, particularly biology, guided her to invest in a four-year, four level science study at John Rogers High School where she teaches. The title, “Project Lead the Way,” is coordinated by Washington State University and is available throughout many states in the U.S. It aims to encourage science teachers in Spokane, Mead, Central Valley and West Valley to open the door to hands-on knowledge of the working mysteries of animal and human anatomy and physiology.
The first year’s study, “Principles of Biomedical Science (PBS),” involves becoming acquainted with dissection, studying the inner parts of animals and learning the purpose of various organs. Students learn about diabetes, infectious diseases, how systems work together to support the body or DNA. Kaplan said, “Some students may have a dream of becoming veterinarians. Others may think, ‘Could this course be my introduction to a future career?’”
Year two is titled “Human Body Systems.” Kaplan said, “Hollister Stier is the largest medical packaging producer in the area. It is a big part of the program. We use them as a resource for having our students educated in the drug making process, manufacturing and what happens in a lab for testing of quality control. A fun part of the program is studying each other’s reflexes and calculating them using a computer.” Kaplan added, “I do very little lecturing. I tell the students, ‘Here’s the situation. Solve the problem.’ They go through different processes to find the answer and have class discussions. Students come to classes early instead of late. They are excited to begin the day’s study.”
The third year, “Medical Interventions,” speaks of careers, DNA testing and designing solutions. The students use micropipettes and actually work with DNA.
The fourth year is called Biomedical Innovations. The students do independent research that addresses 21st century problems.
“There is enough background to make college helpful to them,” Kaplan said. “With a technology, math and science background, I demand a lot. I enjoy bringing 50 kids on this journey with me to see where it takes us. John Rogers is the only school connected to Hollister Stier in a big way. I am totally impressed with the curriculum. It pushes the kids to explore various areas. Some want to be veterinarians, some to be nurses, some to experience the business side of managing a hospital. It gives them a perspective in multiple areas.”
Kaplan will take some of her class to the project program conference at WSU in Spokane to show what the program has done for them. She said, “We are having a science night at school for the community to see our upper level science programs.” Kaplan has heard remarks such as, “I didn’t get to study that until I was a junior in college,” from parents and other visitors to her classroom.
We say, thank you, little country school for pointing the way, and thank you, Carol Kaplan, for your enthusiasm and the ability to bring inspiration and excitement into the classroom for these students. We look to the future with anticipation as these young people become the leaders, soaring beyond yesterday’s boundaries.
Luella Dow is a Cheney-area author who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.