Naugatuck High looking to add CNA program

NAUGATUCK — Naugatuck High School upperclassmen interested in pursuing a career in a medical field could get a head start as early as next school year.

Naugatuck High administrators plan to partner with Naugatuck Valley Community College to offer a certified nursing assistant program starting in the 2019-20 school year. Students who successfully complete the program, which would be run by Naugatuck Valley at the high school, will earn their CNA certification from the state.

Naugatuck High Principal John Harris said school officials are always looking for different pathways to help students be successful after high school. The combination of interest among students and the success the program has had at other high schools made it a “no-brainer” to offer it at Naugatuck High, he said.

The CNA program is one of a handful of changes that the Board of Education has approved for the 2019-20 program of studies at Naugatuck High. Although the program of studies has been approved, the CNA program still has to make it through the process of crafting the borough’s 2019-20 budget.

Fay Godbolt, director of community and economic development, non-credit programs at Naugatuck Valley Community College, said the college first offered the CNA program at Thomaston High School about three years ago. The program is now also run at Watertown High School, she said.

“We’re enjoying the partnership with the high schools,” Godbolt said.

The program covers a variety of topics in a classroom and laboratory setting. The topics include basic first aid, reading vital signs, assisting with hygiene, communicable diseases and caring for people with dementia, Godbolt said. Students also get hands-on experience at a long-term care facility, she said, adding the college is always looking for facilities interested in partnering with the program.

The program also arranges for students to take the state exam, at no cost to them, to get certified as a CNA, Godbolt said.

The program is designed to give high school students interested in pursuing a college degree in a medical field or entering the workforce after graduation a leg up, Harris said.

“It’s a great opportunity for students who want to go into the medical field,” Godbolt said.

The program will be a full-year course for two credits, Harris said, and run for two consecutive blocks on a rotating basis based on the school’s block scheduling. The only prerequisite for the program is biology, which all sophomores take, so juniors and seniors will be able to enroll in the program, he said.

Harris said the program will start with one section. If there is more interest, he said, officials will look to add more sections.

The cost was still being finalized as of last week, as a few options are available for the program. Harris said the program won’t have an excessive impact on the budget and will be less than the cost of a full-time teacher position.

The changes to the program of studies included several new courses. Among the new additions are two Advanced Placement computer science courses, with a third expected to be added in the 2020-21 school year. The computer science courses are part of a computer science pathway the school is looking to develop for students interested in the field, Harris said.

School officials are also adding AP chemistry and AP environmental science next school year and expanding the University of Connecticut Early College Experience courses to include ECE biology, ECE physics and ECE United States history, which will also be an AP course.

UConn ECE and AP courses give students an opportunity to take college-level courses for both high school and college credit.