GREENVILLE, N.C. — Pitt Community College instructors and students made weekly visits to The Oakwood School this summer to lead elementary and middle school students through interactive, hands-on demonstrations that opened their eyes to educational and career opportunities.
The visits took place in June and July as part of The Oakwood School’s Horizons program, a tuition-free summer enrichment initiative dedicated to advancing educational equity by serving Pitt County public schools students from under-resourced families. The six-week program focuses on literacy and STEM programming to help youngsters develop a love of learning and build a support network that promotes social and academic growth.
The PCC visits began June 23 with activities showcasing North Carolina’s BioNetwork and concluded July 28 with art and music presentations. In between, students toured a PCC mobile teaching lab equipped with state-of-the-art technology and learned about Construction & Industrial Technology curricula, fire-rescue training, law enforcement and horticulture.
PCC Dean of Public Services & Fine Arts Dan Mayo said he and members of his division enjoyed spending time with Horizons students and working with them on activities that gave them a closer look at career fields.
“Regardless of age, it’s always nice to talk with and encourage young learners to think about career exploration and education after high school,” Mayo said. “We had fun working with the kids. It wasn’t a typical summer camp experience, but it was a great fit for curious young learners; they had lots of questions about the activities and Pitt Community College, so it was a positive experience for everyone.”
Pitt health sciences students and instructors had a similar experience when they visited July 21 to lead Horizons participants through various hands-on activities. PCC Health Sciences Admissions Specialist Kristi Walters said representatives from six programs participated that day: Dental Assisting, Emergency Medical Science (EMS), Medical Assisting, Nursing, Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) and Polysomnography.
Walters said Dental Assisting students taught the children proper toothbrushing and flossing techniques and EMS instructors gave them opportunities to practice CPR on manikins to learn about emergency health care training. OTA students shed light on their future careers by asking the youngsters to perform activities of daily living while wearing visual impairment goggles that simulated cataracts, macular degeneration and other eye issues.
“Our students shared their enthusiasm for their fields of study and it definitely impacted the Horizons students,” Walters said. “Hopefully, by showing them the wide range of programs offered at PCC, we helped inspire the next generation of health sciences students.”
Established in 2016, The Oakwood School’s Horizons program is part of the award-winning Horizons national family, which is comprised of more than 60 chapters and serves more than 6,000 students annually. Every Horizons program includes swimming instruction, breakfast and lunch, field trips, recreation, arts, and an overall emphasis on family involvement.
According to the Horizons program website, students’ reading and math skills improve significantly through their participation and they return to school at the end of summer excited and ready to learn.