Now more than ever, we are experiencing the importance of the healthcare profession’s role in ensuring a healthy and functioning society. Therefore, it is vital to prepare the next generation of healthcare professionals for the ever-changing challenges of the industry. As part of Saint Ignatius High School’s Women’s History Month celebration, we are proud to feature our fourth and final Wildcat Woman of the Week, Miss Tara Henderson, science teacher and Director of the Health Sciences Program.
The Saint Ignatius High School Health Sciences Program prepares students for a life of service and leadership within the healthcare profession. The comprehensive academic programming strikes a balance between classroom instruction and exposure to the real world of healthcare through hands-on application at Northeast Ohio’s internationally acclaimed hospitals.
This program is the brainchild of Miss Tara Henderson. Henderson is currently in her 14th year teaching at Saint Ignatius. Although she initially planned to pursue medicine herself, the thought of bringing biology to life by inspiring young minds became her ultimate motivation. “If I can provide students with the opportunity to make an impact in medicine, it’s a trickle-down effect.”
The Health Sciences Program grew out of a club called the Pre-Med Society. The Pre-Med Society came about in 2011 after students approached Henderson, expressing interest in starting a club geared toward the medical profession. The society has guest speakers, field trips and activities (e.g. Health Fair and suturing clinic) to promote interest and expand knowledge about the medical profession. Membership to this society is open to all grade levels of Saint Ignatius High School.
Henderson saw the popularity of the Pre-Med Society as an opportunity to expand the organization to include comprehensive academic programming. Tara reached out to Cleveland-area doctors and generated a steering committee of 15 individuals to help plan the logistics behind the program. “I’m very thankful for the help of Dr. Michael R. Anderson, Dr. Neil Smith '76 and Dr. Joseph Moses '66, who have all been crucial in both the planning and growth of the program over the years,” Henderson explained.
In accordance with Saint Ignatius High School’s goals of developing our students into responsible and open-minded adults, the framework of the Health Sciences Program was constructed. In addition to the offerings of the Pre-Med Society, the program includes rigorous science course placement, internship opportunities, clinical hours, collaboration with area high schools and elements of service-learning.
“My favorite part of directing the Pre-Med Society and Health Sciences Program is that I have the opportunity to get to know students throughout their four years at Ignatius, both inside and outside of the classroom. I get to see the kids in a different light as they are developing plans for their futures, sometimes honing in on specific areas of healthcare. I absolutely love seeing that progress-- it’s a really unique and fun position to be in.”