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For a decade, Maize grad has been training the next generation of medical workers at his alma mater

Maize Career Academy health science instructor Rob Archibald, a Maize High School graduate, has one desire: to prepare and equip his high school students with the tools they need for future careers in any health science field. 

Archibald started his Maize journey at Maize South High School, where he was asked to build the foundations of a health science program in 2012. During thePhoto of fourth grade students looking at a sonograph of a students heart. following few years, he attended national health conferences across the country to gain knowledge from other instructors with well-established programs. 

In 2017 when the Maize Career Academy opened its doors, he made the natural transition to the new building, where he began to teach students interested in health science. 

With his Bachelor’s degrees in Chemistry and Biology and a Master’s in Education, he did not have formal and technical training in the health science industry. To compensate, the hands-on experiences he designed and continues to provide to his students comes straight from local doctors and nurses, Ascension Via Christi, and Wesley Medical Center. 

This means his students receive real-world experience during  high school.

“What most people don’t realize looking from the outside in is that my job is to relay the knowledge directly from the real doctors to my students,” Archibald said. “The lessons were designed based on advice from true professionals.”

Throughout the school year, dozens of students are sent out into the community to shadow health professionals. From plastic surgery to open heart surgery, students are provided the best learning opportunities. Each week, students are selected to take home a handheld sonogram device, the Butterfly IQ, to examine their carotid arteries, gallbladder, or kidney for exploratory purposes. 

“Rob does an excellent job providing students opportunities to have real-world learning,” Maize Career Academy Director of College and Career Readiness Dr. Lindsay King said. “He coordinates shadowing opportunities, creates lab modules, and helps students prepare and define their future goals and plans.” 

To Archibald, the success and dedication of his students is because of the other educators that help make Maize special. 

“The Maize community is blessed to have amazing students in every building,” Archibald said. “By the time the students are in my seats, they basically need no instruction. They emulate the energetic styles of their Maize teachers from the past and present, which help them in their career fields.”

During his courses, students are provided modules designed to teach how to suture, draw and type blood and about sports medicine, sonograms, and CPR. They hear from guest speakers from Wesley and Newman University to discuss different career paths in medicine. 

He teaches a variety of courses, including Health Care Research and Clinical Skills, Health Care Work Experiences, Health Science 1 and biology, and he still gets excited about the exploratory activities his students get to experience. This allows his students to learn on the fly.  

“When a student asks a question to which I don’t have the answer, we get to go on a journey together,” Archibald said. “We begin looking up answers, checking sources, putting together our own understanding of the situation, and finding more information about it on YouTube.”

While his courses provide the hands-on learning that makes the Maize Career Academy unique, the health science courses still come with challenges. Inside the classroom, his teaching and learning styles are not always easy for students, which he hopes allows them to realize that having knowledge is more important than good grades. 

“I want students to understand that the bar for my course, and medicine in general, is set very high,” Archibald said. “Not everyone will get an A, and not everyone will go on to become a doctor.”

One way he has given back to his students is through the use of ZSpace, a virtual reality technology that delivers immersive and interactive learning experiences for the workforce. This program allows students to transform their knowledge of science programs by visually traveling into organs and the body to gain a deeper understanding of their curriculum. 

While his typical students are juniors and seniors in high school, sometimes he has the opportunity to enlighten and engage elementary school students. During a recent field trip for Vermillion Elementary School students, who traveled to the Maize Career Academy (MCA) to learn about the heart, he had a front row seat teaching fourth grade students how the heart works.

During the Heart of MCA rotations, Archibald asked this frequent question to the fourth grade students: “How can we see someone’s heart?” Through this question, he hoped students would ask about the sonogram device in his hand. Instead, students wanted to open up his student “patient” with a scalpel. To this, Archibald replied, “Looks like we have future surgeons on our hands today!” 

With the Heart of MCA completed for Vermillion Elementary School students, he hopes they fall in love with the Maize Career Academy and all the amazing things that happen in the building. 

“You can take a topic, like the heart, and run wild with ideas,” Archibald said. “You can make heart-healthy snacks, see a real-time sonogram, use virtual reality, or touch a sheep’s heart. We can do it all at the Career Academy, which makes it great for students wanting to further their education.”