Scenes from a Classroom
Date: January 4, 2013
On a recent fall morning, Kay Thilert, Mira Mehes and Milton “Mickey” Constam greet students at Inner Harbor East Academy for the first time. Armed with packets of stickers, crayons and journals to distribute, the Adopt-A-Class team members explain their jobs.
“I work in pediatric trauma,” says Thilert. “In what?” asks one of the kids. Thilert tells them that as administrative coordinator (another new term for them) in that field, she helps doctors and nurses keep track of children who get hurt and need to come to the hospital.
Mehes’ job description appears to be easier to understand. The surgical researcher says she studies babies in Africa. And Constam, who works in Skills Enhancement, says his job has nothing to do with medicine: “I help employees who didn’t finish high school understand math and reading.”
From there, the mentors break into groups. Today’s unit focuses on good habits. (Later visits will emphasize setting goals, making plans for those goals, teamwork and communication.) Mehes asks her group, “Can you think of a good habit—something you do without thinking about it?”
“Keep the house clean?” offers one of the students. Another pipes in: “Do your homework!” “Don’t be rude,” says a third. “How about eating healthy foods?” counters Mehes. “I don’t know if a tomato is a fruit or a vegetable,” says a student. “Well, there’s some debate about that,” says Mehes. “But the important thing is that it’s healthy.”
At the end of each session, students are invited to ask their own questions. Then they record their experiences in journals. By the end of the six-month stint, the kids will have learned that doctors and nurses serve important roles at the hospital, but so do lab assistants, surgical techs, inventory management clerks, dietary staff and environmental services workers.
“It’s absolutely great fun going in and seeing their fresh faces,” says Thilert, who’s been involved in the program for the past three years. “I’m always surprised at how much they enjoy each presentation.”