January-February 2020 | Parenting

Edison 2.0

At the recently rebuilt Thomas Edison High School of Technology in Silver Spring, students are learning the latest skills in carpentry, law enforcement and more

Photo by Laura Chase De Formigny

Nurse practitioner Keri Sykora guides Brigitta Agung (left) and Sierra Villemez (right), seniors at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, during a lesson in the Academy of Health Professions, part of the human and consumer services cluster. “They go to long-term care facilities in the winter to do real patient care, and this is part of the morning routine,” Sykora says. “It gives you a good understanding of what the patients are going through. They actually have to brush each other’s teeth so they know what it feels like to be a patient.” During their junior year, students in this program can become certified medical assistants, which qualifies them to work in a doctor’s or dentist’s office, helping with patient care or filing medical records. As seniors, they can earn a nursing assistant certification and work at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, dealing directly with patients. The students complete their clinical requirements at Bethesda Health and Rehabilitation Center, Hebrew Home of Greater Washington and Walter Reed.


Photo by Laura Chase De Formigny

Working collaboratively in the cybersecurity classroom, Laylah Vital (right) uses a Cisco Packet Tracer program to make sure all devices (laptops, personal computers, cellphones and tablets) are able to connect to the internet in a secure manner. “It’s unlike anything I’ve done at school before,” says the Wheaton High School senior who plans to major in computer science in college. “Taking advantage of this course has been really exciting and new.” Teacher Nick Manning says the number of students enrolled in the program has nearly doubled since it was launched in the fall of 2018. The demand for qualified workers is growing, and last summer, one of Manning’s students got an internship at the U.S. Department of Defense. “In this field, there are more jobs than candidates,” Manning says.


Photo by Laura Chase De Formigny

Teacher Dan Murphy shows law enforcement and leadership students the fundamentals of self-defense and how to respond in an altercation. Students at Edison choose to be at the school, so they’re engaged and enthusiastic, says Murphy, a former New York firefighter who responded to 9/11 and also worked in the Secret Service during the Obama administration. Some students are interested in becoming police officers or federal agents; others want to pursue law degrees or careers in forensic science. In the curriculum, Murphy covers local, state and federal law enforcement, as well as leadership skills and character-building.

Photo by Laura Chase De Formigny

Over the lunch hour, students celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month with special food and music. ESOL teacher Lindsay Walberg dances with Gerson Rodas, 19, a student who is part of Edison’s full-day Career Readiness Education Academy (CREA), a program geared toward English language learners pursuing a GED diploma. Rodas spends half the day studying English and math, and half enrolled in construction courses.