One teacher can make a big difference

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 29, 2010

Lab coat? Check.

Safety goggles? Check.

Prepare for DNA fingerprinting.

In a few weeks those words may be uttered in the halls of Cathedral School and from that last phrase, it should be clear this is not your mother’s boring science class.

No, this is something entirely different, thanks to one inspired teacher who sought more educational resources for her students.

Denise Thibodeaux, Cathedral’s biology and anatomy teacher, has signed up Cathedral to become the first non-public school in the state to partner with the University of Mississippi Medical Center on a great scientific education program.

The new course Thibodeaux will be teaching is part of the Rural Biomedical Initiative, a grant-funded program. Its aim is to hatch and inspire Mississippi’s next generation of scientists.

Thibodeaux knows that inspiration pumped into the mind of a young person can drive them for decades.

For years and years our area’s leaders have complained about a lack of enough physicians in the area. Our hospitals are regularly recruiting new physicians to town, but maybe Thibodeaux’s approach will ultimately be the answer to improved health care over time — we’ll grow more physicians here at home.

She points to a study that shows students from rural areas who become primary care physicians are likely to return to their home communities.

Of course that will take time, but for now, it is amazing that local students will get a chance to participate in such a cool program, all thanks to an inspired teacher who saw an opportunity for her students and jumped.

Thibodeaux is a great example to remind us all of just how much of a difference one person can make in our community and in the lives of our youth.