ALBANY -- The Dougherty County School System lifted the curtain on the Dougherty County Academy of Medical Arts at a news conference Friday at Isabella School.
According to a release, the new program is designed to "provide students with the educational foundation, diverse medical orientation and training needed for a successful collegiate career and future profession in medicine and health care science."
The new medical arts academy will run from elementary to high school level.
Lake Park Medical Arts Academy will serve as the introductory step for the new program, and students will advance to the Merry Acres Academy of Medical Arts, which serves as the core of the new program.
"We are excited about the future of this program," Merry Acres Principal Ufot Inyang said. "What we have here is the only K-12 program of its kind in the country. We hope it will be a mining ground for future doctors and health care professionals."
The Academy of Medical Arts at Westover High School will serve as the culmination of the program.
Core AMA courses are based upon the current Dougherty County Honors curriculum that is integrated with the standards in research and medical sciences to strengthen critical thinking and scientific inquiry.
The seed for the idea comes from Crispus Attucks Medical Magnet High School in Indianapolis, Ind.
Recently, school board members Darrel Ealum and Anita
Williams-Brown visited the school on a fact-finding mission and left Indianapolis impressed.
"We saw what they were doing up there, and they have a phenomenal curriculum," Ealum said. "Their demographics mirror those of Dougherty County, and we can make it work here."
DCSS Elementary/Magnet Supervisor Saralyn Barkley said the new project has been in the works since 2007.
"This is a great day for Dougherty County schools," Barkley said. "It will give us an opportunity to showcase one of our system's magnet programs. We began working on this project in 2007, and what will form the foundation is the critical support of the community and the medical community together."
Ealum said he had sent a letter Thursday to Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital CEO Joel Wernick and was expecting the hospital to get on board with the program.