Teacher at Smoky Mountain High teaches professional skills with a personal touch

Photo credit: WLOS Staff

A teacher at Smoky Mountain High School gives students professional skills with a personal touch. In this weeks Thanks to Teachers we salute Maria Caldwell, who gives students the confidence to care for others.

"You can do anything you set your mind to," she often tells young people.

In June, seven of Caldwell's Health Occupation students will soon travel to Texas for a national competition.

The best teachers seems to have their finger on the pulse of the potential. Caldwell sees a little bit of herself in each student.

"I want them to be able to do anything they want to do," she told us. "To be resilient, that life throws us curves."

"So you've got to make sure it's closed all the way up, let's see if you can do that," she said, demonstrating how to use a blood pressure cuff. "So that's a good pace. You're gonna let it go all the way down until it gets to zero."

"And I wanna be able to teach our future healthcare professionals so that one day they can take care of us," she explained.

She's now in her third year teaching at Smoky Mountain High. Caldwell graduated in the school's class of '92.

"Decide of you want to take the CNA class when you become a senior," she told the class.

Each year, about 20 students pass the CNA exam and find jobs.

"To walk into a nursing home and see my students work and give back to the community, to see that compassion that they didn't realize they really had until they actually take care of someone in the nursing home it's amazing," Caldwell said.

Fittingly, she often demonstrates what makes the human heart tick. Caldwell's heart is the vital sign of a great mentor.

"So proud of all of you," she said hugging several students at once.

"I'm proud of you," one replied.

Beyond the nursing fundamentals, Mrs. Caldwell teaches lessons that empower them for life.

"They can do anything they set their mind to, and to know that I love them and to encourage them to do anything," she says.

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