UTMB President's Cabinet Funds $50,000 Dream in Friendswood ISD

A big dream came true for Friendswood High School (FHS) Health Science Teacher Carla Burris on Jan. 25 when a $50,000 simulated ambulance funded by a 2020 UTMB President’s Cabinet Award was installed at FHS.
With the launch of the new FHS EMT Certification Program, Burris approached the Friendswood ISD Education Foundation (FEF) with the idea for a simulated ambulance in the Fall of 2019.
“We talk a lot about what authentic learning means in Friendswood ISD,” Friendswood ISD Superintendent Thad Roher said. “It is learning you do by experiencing it; learning you can put your hands on. The simulated ambulance would bring a whole new dynamic to the launch of our EMT program, not just learning you can put your hands on, but learning you can literally put your whole body into.”
FEF Executive Director Ashley Adair worked with Burris to develop a grant proposal that ultimately sparked the interest of local healthcare leader, UTMB Health.
In September of 2020, Adair received the news that FEF had been awarded a $50,000 UTMB President’s Cabinet Award to fund the simulated ambulance. In a surprise visit to FHS, FEF revealed the news to Burris and her students: a moment that was filled with immense joy and happy tears.
“It was a dream come true,” Burris said. “With everything going on in the world right now, I did not think it would actually happen. [The students and I] were shocked. I was so excited that this missing piece of the puzzle - the real-world piece - was finally coming to fruition.”
FHS EMT student Matthew Kovacevich reflected on the day of the big surprise. 
“The best part was seeing Ms. Burris’ excitement,” Kovacevich said. “She worked so hard to make this possible for us.”
Burris said her excitement for the ambulance stems from her love of teaching.
“I love being able to pass my knowledge along to the students,” Burris said. “My hope is that they become competent, confident healthcare professionals. I’m passionate and now I see that passion in the students which is truly amazing.”

Passion for the field is more important than ever in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic according to President’s Cabinet Awards Committee Chair Barbara Slusher. She emphasized the importance of providing students with opportunities to explore their passions and interests in the healthcare industry.
“Certainly, the year 2020 has shown us that preparing for the future of healthcare is so important,” Slusher said. “The opportunity to collaborate with Friendswood ISD to train some of our future healthcare leaders is a gift that will benefit many in the future.”
Adair agreed that the collaboration is certain to benefit the students and staff of FISD.
“This gift is the first of its kind for the Foundation and we are thrilled to expand our partnership with UTMB Health in a mighty way, “Adair said. “We could not be more grateful to the UTMB President’s Cabinet for making this dream a reality for our students.”

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