For the past six weeks I have been employed as a part-time Adjunct Instructor at the Alamo City College District (ACCD) located in the Edgewood School District.
Housed on SW 40th Street in the former Lincoln Elementary School campus, ACCD has taken possession of the building and offers a number of students with limited education, vocational skills and GED classes. Students come from the Westside and all parts of town to take classes on the campus seeking better employment opportunities.
As one who spent a year in the Edgewood School District in the 80s at Memorial High School, I am acutely aware of the need to provide those additional opportunities for many raised in the Westside of town.
My one year at La Memorial as we called it back then was exciting to say the least. I served as a Government teacher and many of my students and I decided to voluntarily help in a Mayor’s campaign to elect the first Hispanic Mayor since 1842, Henry Cisneros. For me it was a sort or reunion with the area in which I taught those many years ago.
Imagine my surprise when I began my tenure recently at the ACCD campus expecting to teach a GED class and discovering my schedule had been changed to working as a support teacher for a class of nursing assistant students.
Instead of GED, I was about to be exposed to the career path of someone wishing to work in a hospital, nursing home, in- home care, or a doctor’s office!
My second surprise was learning that six of the eight students in the class were from Mexico and at various levels of English proficiency.
My students were between the ages of 24 and 48. The youngest student was a skilled Nurse in Mexico and was training on her nursing assistant’s certification to be employed here in San Antonio.
Part of my job as the support instructor is to create various worksheets by highlighting the various chapters in the student’s work books to make it easier to comprehend the material for tests.
The best part of the class for me is the opportunity to practice along with the students the very skills taught by the nurse who is the lead teacher. A Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) for 34 years, Cynthia Ball is really proficient at what she does.
Since being part of the class, I have learned to take someone’s blood pressure, pulse, heartbeat, and oxygen level. For me it is a whole new world! I also learned how to properly drain a bedpan, how to give a partial sponge bath, help someone out of a bed into a wheelchair and clean a catheter.
The students also practice on me to sharpen their skills set as well. It is good to know on a consistent basis my vitals are consistently good considering my age!
This upcoming week we will be visiting a nursing home on the campus of Incarnate Word University to shadow nursing assistants in their daily routine of administering to their residents. Next week we will finish the class and within weeks they will take their state exams.
For me it is a new learning experience. Hopefully I will remember the skills should someday I find myself in one of those nursing facilities. But then again, what is the hurry?
As always, what I write is “Just a Thought.”
Steve Walker is a Vietnam Veteran and former Justice of the Peace and Journalist.