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Introducing: Carter County Schools’ Pharmacy Tech Class

Carter County School students now have the opportunity to be certified as pharmacy technicians.
The Pharmacy Tech Program, which officially launched this fall with 12 seniors, is currently offered to upcoming seniors at all four county high schools. The program is based on a selection of criteria, from grades, discipline, attendance and recommendation. Once completed, students are able to test for certification.
Sandy Anderson, an educator at Unaka High School, serves as instructor of the class. She praised the work of her students and their dedication this semester. She also said they have reacted positively to the program.
“Everyday when they do something at clinicals, they will email me and be like, ‘oh my gosh, Ms. Anderson, you won’t believe what we got to do,’” she said. “They like to tell me about what they do.”
Anderson explained that many of the students have intentions to further their education, particularly in healthcare. She has informed them that a program like this will help set them apart due to the competitiveness of applying down the road.
Students complete course work with Anderson at the Workforce Development building. They do clinicals at the following pharmacies, Food City, Lingerfelt, Sycamore Shoals and Walgreens.
The program will be taking place in the fall of each school year, with applications being taken to narrow down potential candidates in the spring. The number of students next fall is expected to be around 10.
Prior to the program kicking off, Anderson also took the course to teach it. She is also now certified.
Funding for the program became available from the Tennessee Department of Education Perkins Reserve Grant this past April. Writing and planning for the grant immediately followed, which was done by Anderson and Debbie Madgett. Letters of support came from the following: Dwayne Taylor and David Hobbs (Sycamore Shoals), Dr. Robert Acuff (Quillen College of Medicine Professor of Surgery and Carter County Commissioner 1st District), Lottie Ryans (First TN Development District), the late Mayor Rusty Barnett and Kevin Ward (Director of Carter County Schools, retired now). The grant was awarded on June 30, 2020.
Funding awarded has paid for everything from textbooks and pretests to lab coats. The grant essentially got the course off the ground, at no cost to the schools and also no cost to the students (their certification tests are also completely free for them as well). Materials purchased are reusable and will continue to benefit the program beyond this semester.
Looking back at the work that went into the program, Mickey Taylor, CTE Director, praised Anderson and Madgett.
“I’m really proud of the work Sandy and Debbie have done to get this off the ground,” he said.
He explained that while the idea for the program had been passed around for a bit, Anderson had an interest in going back to school.
“She was willing to go back to school and take the classes to be prepared to teach the course,” he explained. “She had the fortitude and the willingness to do work to get this off the ground. Props to her.”
Taylor, Anderson and Madgett could not express enough gratitude for the letters of support and the pharmacies for working to help get this program off the ground, especially during a time of uncertainty like COVID-19.
Carter County Schools currently offer a wide variety of courses related to CTE that promote learning a skill (everything from welding to agriculture to CNA certifications). These classes branch out into a variety of courses (prerequisites and requirements vary). These skills allow students to go out into the workforce right after graduation and potentially make a substantial income.
Anderson and everyone involved in the new Pharmacy Tech Program are proud of this new addition and hopeful for its future with Carter County Schools.
“There was a lot involved in getting this off the ground,” Anderson said. “But it’s all been worth it. It’s a very important addition, I think, to what we offer.”