2016 ACTE New Teacher of the Year

Jessica Young
Health Science Technology Education Instructor
Southern Arkansas University Tech Career Academy
Camden, Arkansas

ACTE sat down with Jessica after the Awards Banquet at CareerTech VISION 2015.

As a Health Science Technology Education instructor at SAU Tech Career Academy in Camden, Arkansas, Jessica Young enjoys implementing non-traditional methodologies in her classroom. Young has been a licensed nurse for the last 15 years, and in the first part of her career she gained hands-on experience in long-term care, home health and hospital environments. As part of her course, she brings students into these environments, which she says “can be uncomfortable,” but provide a vital reality check for those interested in pursuing a career in the high-stakes health-care profession. She assigns project-based learning assignments, not just to develop necessary skills, but also to foster compassion for patients. For one such assignment, her students were tasked with interviewing nursing home patients and writing about their lives.  “I never saw nursing homes as real homes until I did that assignment,” says former student Taylor Watkins. “I gained a new perspective on life, giving thanks, compassion, and especially the safety and security of a home.”

In addition to being an active member of ACTE, Young is also an avid supporter of SkillsUSA, for which she has held various leadership responsibilities. Her students have competed at the state level and earned four gold medals, and seven of her students have been chosen as state officers. Young employs humor, music and games in the classroom and minimalizes use of the textbook. Her interactive, hands-on methods have resulted in high course scores and requests from peers to teach them how to incorporate similar methods into their classes.

Learn more about the 2016 ACTE Excellence Award winners.


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