Terrica McMillan, Health Sciences teacher at Jackson-Olin High School, and an integral contributor to the Academy of Health Sciences, brings a unique perspective to her classroom. McMillan earned her BS in Respiratory Therapy and Masters in Health Science Education from University of Alabama at Birmingham, is a certified CPR instructor, and Asthma and Lactation Educator. In addition to eleven years of experience in education – four years in Hoover City Schools and seven in Birmingham – McMillan has also been a practicing Pediatric Respiratory Therapist for 18 years, 15 of which she has spent at Children’s Hospital.
This abundance of real world experience is part of what makes her such a fantastic resource in the classroom. McMillan employs a rigorous and engaging curriculum in her classes, and emphasizes the importance of making material relevant and in setting the bar high to encourage students to participate and perform at high levels. As McMillan says, keeping a high standard for student performance “keeps them competitive and gives them an advantage over those who haven’t had the same exposure or coaching.” McMillan notes that while high expectations in the beginning may be shocking to some students, early complaints soon give way to a classroom that is characterized by mutual respect – among students for the teacher and from the teacher for her students.
McMillan and her team continues to work closely with Ed, most recently on the Bridging the Gap program, which started with a partnership between Jackson-Olin, Carver and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Of Ed, McMillan says, “The staff helps to lighten my load. I provide my students with many opportunities, but it can be difficult to find the time to make phone calls, schedule appointments with business partners, or coordinate PR for our programs in between my regular classroom duties. Ed staff continually assist me and my team with the business side so that we can focus on teaching and learning.”
It is obvious that teaching and learning and McMillan’s priorities. Her classroom is filled with diagrams drawn by students, paper bones and organs hanging from the ceiling, anatomical models and animal skulls, real clinical care equipment. Students are constantly going over the technique for changing sheets on hospital beds, procedures for managing patient care, and taking each other’s blood pressure. This is career and technical education in practice.
“The greatest joy,” McMillan says, “is witnessing a student make the connection between their schoolwork and the practical application of health sciences.” McMillan says her students often come back to her, thanking her for her efforts as a teacher, saying that because of her class, they are better prepared for post-secondary education and clinical professions. Of her students as a whole, McMillan is wonderfully appreciative and positive: “They are an awesome group, very intelligent, very talented.”
Ed is overjoyed to continue to support the efforts of outstanding educators like Terrica McMillan. Check back next month for a new profile in our regular Educator Spotlight.