Monroe Students Learn Through Hands-On Experience

By Meilan Solly
LEESBURG, VA- In Loudoun County, high school students have many options when it comes to what they would like to learn. One of these options is the Charles S. Monroe School, also known as C.S. Monroe Technology Center, or just Monroe. This school is a place where juniors, seniors, and some sophomores take classes such as Masonry, Computer and Digital Animation, and Culinary Arts. Monroe, which first opened its doors in 1977, offers these classes and many others through a competitive admissions process. Hopeful attendees must do well on several tests in order to gain entry. Students who attend Monroe spend either their A or B Days at the technology school, and the other day at their home school.
Tia Krehbiel, an eleventh grader at Heritage High School and first year Monroe student, is enrolled in the Monroe program for Health and Medical Sciences. “We’re taught everything about healthcare – terms, anatomy, the history of health care, careers, disease, etc,” she says. Krehbiel decided to attend Monroe because they offered a program she wanted to make into a career. She thinks her Monroe experience will help her later in life because she’ll have base level knowledge about the medical field. As for how it is helping her currently, Krehbiel comments, “I feel much more aware of the current global issues in health care, and I understand the significant impact it has on everybody. Life is precious, and we’re living in a society that’ll do anything to keep their loved ones alive and for everyone to get equal treatment. But with the lack of resources and finances, that goal isn’t a realistic one.”
Krehbiel takes her class on A Days, and describes what her Monroe days typically look like. The Health and Medical Science students are bused from their home school to Monroe, and then to Cornwall Hospital. Their classroom is located in the hospital, and it is where the students stay until lunch time. Lunch takes place back at Monroe, and once it is over, the students ride a bus back to Cornwall Hospital. “We spend most of the day on laptops on a site called Vision. It’s where our teacher posts our assignments (classwork, homework, tests, quizzes) and her lessons. We also go on clinicals. That’s where one student goes to a different area in the hospital like physical therapy, the emergency room, dialysis, the foot doctor, and observes how that part of the hospital runs,” Krehbiel adds. This schedule is very different from most of the other Monroe students’, because health students take their classes at Cornwall Hospital, while other students stay at Monroe.
For students who are interested in attending this vocational education school, Monroe offers a Shadow Day. Different high schools are scheduled for different days. Tuscarora students went on December 19, 2010. While there, the visiting students got a glimpse of what two Monroe programs were like. Yuna Miyamoto, a sophomore at Tuscarora, went to Shadow Day to look at the Cosmetology and Nail Design programs. She says, “Shadow Day, in my opinion, was pretty cool. Once we got [to Monroe], the people who already take the class showed us around their classroom.” Miyamoto didn’t have a chance to see students doing peoples’ nails, but she did see cosmetology students fixing mannequins’ hair, which she described as “cool and kind of scary at the same time.”
Miyamoto had expectations for the day, and they did not quite match the reality of it. “[I expected to see] a huge room of working people studying Cosmetology and Nail Design, but really, during Nail Design, nobody was in the room, and when people did come in, we had to leave, and so we didn’t really get to see people doing mannequin’s nails. I thought we’d be able to paint some nails of mannequins, but we didn’t get to do that either, and the room for nail design was really small. I thought it’d be a huge room with big windows, like the art rooms at our school, but they weren’t, and same with the Cosmetology room.”
Monroe Technology Center is an educational opportunity that is only available to Loudoun County residents. Many counties around the country do not offer anything remotely like Monroe. Therefore, if you would like to take advantage of this opportunity, keep an eye out for enrollment information, or visit the official Monroe website.