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  • Dr. Michael Gorman
  • Community Partnerships Benefit Students
    Pemberton Township Schools has had a unique connection with neighboring Deborah Heart and Lung Center for nearly two decades, resulting in an enriching relationship that benefits both organizations. Located in close proximity to three Pemberton elementary schools, Deborah is not just a neighbor, but a partner, supporter, collaborator and even mentor—to students and staff alike.

    Deborah was established in Browns Mills in the 1920s, and over the years has grown into an internationally recognized Center of Medical Excellence. Renowned as a leader in cardiac and pulmonary medicine, patients travel from near and far for treatment at the region’s only specialty heart hospital. Given the esteemed reputation and notable scope of services of such a premier medical facility, Pemberton Schools has been fortunate to establish such a valuable and productive partnership.

    Our formal affiliation began in 1998, when Deborah and Pemberton collaborated to create the first Deborah Heart Challenge. Originally featuring Pemberton students competing against each other with questions about the cardiac and pulmonary systems, the novel contest has evolved into one of the region’s most distinguished high school competitions.

    Pemberton and Deborah employees begin meeting months before the Challenge, planning each aspect of the event down to the last detail. Deborah staff coordinates the medical questions, team organization, rules, invitations and programs, while Pemberton staff and students begin the arduous task of preparing to host such a significant event. On the last Sunday in February, the Pemberton Township High School (PTHS) auditorium is transformed into a modern game show set, replete with an elaborate tiered competition area on the stage, electronic scoring and buzzing devices, and video question displays. What began as a small science contest has grown and expanded to feature academic teams and student artists from nine area high schools. Highly respected physicians from Deborah serve as questioners and judges, and a local television personality oversees the production in the role of master of ceremonies.

    Student talent and dedication is promoted by both partners, with over 140 pieces of heart-themed art entered into a juried art competition, and placed on display in the school lobby prior to the event. Art winners from the nine schools are announced during pauses in the academic competition, and after the competition, the winning art is transported to Deborah for display in the hospital lobby.  Pemberton culinary arts and bakery students prepare and serve appetizers and desserts as visitors peruse the art exhibition, and students from the participating schools perform musical selections. The event is videotaped live by the Pemberton Schools television production crew and then airs on local access channels, and is distributed as a DVD to participating schools and parents. The event draws hundreds of supporters each year, and is a showcase for the outstanding partnership between Deborah and Pemberton Schools.Pemberton

    In addition to the annual Heart Challenge, the strong alliance with Deborah has proven advantageous to students in the high school Medical Arts Academy. Initiated in 2010, the PTHS Medical Arts Academy was established to provide motivated students interested in health care careers with a specialized, comprehensive education. With the cooperation and guidance of Deborah representatives, the program is now in its 6th year, successfully graduating students who go on to pursue medical degrees, nursing degrees, allied health field degrees and athletic training certifications. Through Deborah’s elite internship program, select students are given an inside look at a hospital, working side by side with medical professionals at Deborah. These exclusive experiences provide Pemberton students with the rare opportunity to witness medical professionals on the job, as well as the behind the scenes work in the laboratories, pharmacy, and even operating rooms. It is the epitome of a true partnership, allowing students to connect classroom learning to real world experiences.

    This year the partnership with Deborah has grown even stronger, as they joined forces with the school district and township to co-sponsor the 10th Annual Community Day. This day-long event, held on the school grounds, features educational and recreational activities for Pemberton families, and this year with the addition of Deborah staff, a health fair with free health screenings and speakers as well.

    There are countless other events and collaborative experiences as a result of this partnership, including a live video surgical procedure that Deborah broadcasts to the Medical Arts Academy students, annual tours of the hospital’s operating rooms and cardiac catheterization labs, and Deborah scholarships provided to students going into the medical field. The cordial relationship between employees fosters shared resources between staff at both facilities, and Deborah even hosts Pemberton school nurses at a forum every October, providing guest speakers on topics that relate to pediatric healthcare and injuries.
    Pemberton students, ever ambassadors in the community, provide services for Deborah as well. From horticulture and carpentry students providing gardening and beautification services on the hospital grounds, to choral students providing music at Deborah special events, to students serving as junior volunteers at the hospital, it is a beneficial , reciprocal relationship that truly defines the word “Partner.”