Eau Claire students become the teacher

This week nursing students will team up with children from the gifted and talented program from several different middle schools around the Eau Claire area to discuss health related issues.

The children will be bused to UW-Eau Claire on Thursday and will talk to sophomore nursing students. They will prepare health-related teaching projects which will then be presented to elementary school children around Eau Claire.

“This is really ground-breaking,” said Lee-Ellen Kirkhorn, associate professor of nursing. “We are taking the message of the classroom and putting it in a very real environment.”

Each nursing student will be paired with a gifted and talented child, and the pairs will discuss how to teach a fourth grader the benefits of good health.

“Nurses use teaching all the time; whether it’s with patients or with the community – it is an essential skill and the students will get to practice and use it with the middle schoolers,” Kirkhorn said.

The gifted and talented middle schools will be a great benefit to the nursing program, Kirkhorn said. They remember fourth grade and know what needs to be said and learned health-wise, she added.

Though plans of presenting the projects to elementary school children are still being discussed, Kirkhorn is hopeful for the future.

“I think the children would benefit greatly from our projects,” she said. “We want it to be a fun atmosphere with different projects to really get the kids involved in the issues.”

Some of the issues the middle schoolers want to educate the fourth graders on include cyber-bullying.

“I really thought the gifted and talented kids would want to teach about hand-washing or how to brush your teeth better, but they wanted to talk about bullying on the playground and even cyber-bullying,” Kirkhorn said. “That really surprised and saddened me that this is such an issue for them.”

Though the children will benefit from this experience, the nursing students will benefit as well. This is the first time the students will get to work with other people, she said.

“Most of the nursing students want to be nurses because they want to work with children,” Kirkhorn said.

Nursing students usually work in nursing homes, so working with children is a big benefit for those who want to go into pediatrics.

According to a university press release, other people involved in this project include Norah Airth-Kindree, clinical instructor of nursing; Diane Marcyjanik, clinical instructor of nursing; and Karen Maddox, associate professor of nursing and Pam Cernocky, the coordinator of the gifted and talented program.