Innovating the classroom: Specialists to teach our children

HARLINGEN — He’s at the cutting edge of his medical field.

Wound therapy, limb replacement, repair of knees and hips — the techniques are changing. Even as you listen to the physician talk about his specialty there have been new developments.

Next year, he will be able to teach one high school class because of the Harlingen school district’s new designation as a District of Innovation. That designation allows the school district to certify orthopedic specialists, pipe welders and other professionals to teach a class.

This opportunity allows the district to tap into the powerful resources of the experience professionals have gained through an entire lifetime, said Alicia Noyola, chief academic officer.

They’ve acquired knowledge and know-how unattainable in a classroom setting, information not found in textbooks. It’s the kind of edge anyone would want after leaving school and entering the workforce.

“We have seen some of these opportunities with our School of Health Professions,” Noyola said.

HSHP has invited several medical professionals to appear as guest speakers. They’ve given presentations about brain surgery, anesthesiology, pediatrics and other medical specialties.

“It’s about being able to come in and teach a course without having teacher certification,” Noyola said. “It’s about finding those experts in their field who can really show authentic learning to our students.”

Aspiring automotive specialists will soon have a chance to benefit from years of experience of those who have worked in the field, said Harlingen school board member George McShan.

“In the field of manufacturing we can have experts coming in,” he said.

Some of the trades offered in the school district are taught in a general sense. A professional in the industry could come in and teach specifics.

“We teach some parts of welding, but you might want to do something like pipe welding,” McShan said.

Such experts would be a powerful new resource for students, Noyola said. The district will spend this year developing a program to certify professionals to teach and will be ready to hire those professionals next year.

“We will look at multiple avenues by which we can provide our kids these authentic learning experiences and bring experienced people in their fields to work with our students,” Noyola said.