Arkansas Children’s Hospital partners with Sylvan Hills High School to support not only a professional academy in medical sciences but also an academy in business.
The academic alliance between the Foundation for Pediatrics and the Pulaski County Special School District — organized by Academies of Central Arkansas — was announced Thursday on the 10th-12th grade campus of Sylvan Hills High School in Sherwood.
“Your students are our students now,” Marcy Duderer, president and CEO of Arkansas Children, told the audience that included Superintendent Charles McNulty, Sylvan Hills Senior Principal Tracey Allen, Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce President Rajesh Chokani, and more than 100 students. and a teacher, government leaders, and other businessmen.
“We think so,” Doderer continued. “We’ll wrap them up. We’ll take care of them and help launch them into the contributing adults they will be when they graduate.”
The formation of the school/work partnership is the latest development in a multi-year effort led by the Little Rock Chamber to create and pair the Career Academies of Little Rock, North Little Rock, Pulaski Special, and Jacksonville/North Pulaski High Schools with related businesses. Partnerships aim to provide students with guest speakers, field trips, career fairs, job shadowing, internships, certifications, graduation projects, and other resources.
Previous partnerships announced are Little Rock’s Southwest High, Baptist Health, Little Rock Parkview Magnet High, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield. Additional business and high school alliances will be announced in the coming days and weeks, said Marcus Jewett, vice president of academics for the chamber.
The Interdistrict Academies initiative is built on the Ford Next Generation Learning model, a national model for integrating core academics with career and technical education, enabling students to see the importance of traditional subjects through the lens of professional fields.
More than 40 communities across the country, including Louisville, Kentucky, and Nashville, Tennessee, have adopted the model.
Sylvan Hills also has a third academy — one in engineering — which has yet to form a business partnership, said Allen, the school’s principal.
Doderer and Children’s Hospital has been involved for at least five years in modeling the vocational academy of nearly a dozen high schools in Pulaski County.
“Now is the time to actually see that come to fruition and reap the rewards,” said Duderer, adding that the principles of Central Arkansas Academies are deeply aligned with the mission of Arkansas children — “to champion children by making them better today and healthier tomorrow.”
Doderer, who was a finance major in college herself, explained why the hospital system partnership had expanded beyond the Academy of Medical Sciences to include the school’s Academy of Business.
“A health system is much more than a location for clinical care,” she said, adding that the system relies on some of the region’s smartest and best-prepared professionals in human resources, information technology, finance, law, strategic planning and marketing. . The hospital also operates a day care, food service, environmental services, and security systems.
“Every profession you could think of happens in the corridors of a health system,” she said. “That’s why…we wanted the opportunity to influence and grow students from a business perspective.”
Superintendent McNulty welcomed the medical system’s partnership with its potential impact on students.
“It’s a strong result of the passion we all feel for what we want now and what we want for the future,” he said, his voice cracking with emotion.
“When I was in high school, I was just asked to go to college,” he recalls. “I had no idea why. I wasn’t seeing myself all the time in what I was doing. Through these partnerships, our young people can see themselves today and know where they want to go in the future.”
Ian Morales, an 11th grader at Sylvan Hills, said he’s participating in the business career path — which existed before the Arkansas Children’s Partnership — in anticipation of a career as a lawyer and owner of his own firm.
“I’m currently in a marketing management class where I get basic experience running a company,” Morales said. “I welcome the opportunity to follow the attorneys at Arkansas Children’s to learn more about business law.”
Jacee Wheat, also a student at Sylvan Hills High School, participates in the school’s Medical Profession Academy. She said she is an aspiring doctor.
“The classes gave me a lot of opportunities to study different medical branches such as patient care and treatment modalities for different diagnoses,” she said.
She is currently taking a class on human body systems, having studied Principles of Biomedical Sciences last year.