class rescues student “When you’re willing to try something different to reach and teach kids, some of it works. This was one of those things that worked for Chris,” Dalgo said.
Sometimes it takes “out-of-the-box” teaching methods to reach students and make an impact on them. In a Career and Technical Education class at Ocean Springs High School, Chris learned to read and found his passion for being an actor, not in a theater or communication course, but in allied health. The rigor of an allied health class includes reading medical-related articles and textbooks, as well as deciphering complicated medical terminology. Judy Dalgo, who recently was honored as the Mississippi Alternate Teacher of the Year,
explained that as a shy student Chris struggled with the reading assignments and had difficulty participating in group assignments. She said, “One of the topics we cover for allied health is infectious diseases, and that particular year I had written a play on yellow fever. I thought it would be really interesting for the students to learn about the disease in depth, because here on the Gulf Coast we had a significant outbreak,” she explained. Dalgo inspired her students to become interested in the play by having them read historical letters between a husband and wife. Dating back to 1878, the letters told the story of the relationship between the wife, who was quarantined in Ocean Springs, and her husband, who was isolated in Water Valley, due to the epidemic outbreak of the disease. With more than 30 letters, Dalgo wrote a play that required all of her allied health students to have a speaking role. “Chris was especially concerned about learning the script because he did have difficulty reading,” said Dalgo. “As we were practicing, I noticed that when he was on stage, his voice projected wonderfully, and he was using his height and stature to develop great stage presence.”
Playing the role of Dr. Levere, a Walter Reed Medical Center professional who helped discover the cause of yellow fever, Chris never missed play practice, stayed late to rehearse his lines, and in the process learned to read. “On that stage, he found his voice and developed self-esteem. He found the passion that inspired and helped him perform better in school,” she said. Because of Dalgo’s allied health class, Chris enrolled in the high school drama club and now attends Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, where he is a theater major. “When you’re willing to try something different to reach and teach kids, some of it works. This was one of those things that worked for Chris,” Dalgo said. In addition to being named the 2011 Mississippi Alternate Teacher of the Year, Dalgo was honored by the Keys Technology Center in the Ocean Springs School District as the 2010 Teacher of the Year. A national board certified allied health teacher, she received her doctorate in nursing in 1992 and has taught healthrelated courses since 1983.
Connections Spring 2011