Local News

MU professor earns one of Army's highest civilian honors

08 Michel with MedalDr. Sheri Michel, a professor in the Doctor of Occupational Therapy Program at Methodist University, has received the Meritorious Civilian Service Medal, one of the U.S. Army’s highest civilian honors.

As our times often dictate, Michel was honored by the Army in a virtual ceremony with her physical honors (medal and proclamation) coming later.

“Without a doubt, it truly is an honor,” said Michel, who is now a part of MU’s ground-breaking program, the first entry-level OTD program in the state of North Carolina. “It is quite humbling and exciting to know that others saw my accomplishments as distinguished enough to warrant an award of this caliber.”

Prior to joining MU’s OTD program in August 2020, Michel worked as the Chief of Rehabilitation Services of the Soldier Recovery Unit (formerly Warrior Transition Battalion) at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. Her work with the Army dates back to 2008.

During the ceremony, former colleagues discussed Michel’s accomplishments, which include managing a team of more than 20 personnel, both military and civilian, and completing deployments to the Republics of Georgia and the Ukraine. She was nominated for the award by Lt. Col. Edward Bridges, M.D., who served alongside her as a battalion surgeon.

“I consider her to be a pioneer in the area of developing rehabilitative care and comprehensive recovery for soldiers who have experienced trauma, as well as soldiers who have just gone through difficult times over the history of their career,” Bridges said.

After returning from her deployments, Michel was ready to step aside to allow another professional to grow and mature as a leader in the newly reformed Soldier Recovery Unit.

“I was intrigued by the fact the OTD program at Methodist was new and developing and I was drawn to the challenge of being on the forefront of change,” said Michel.

For Dr. Meredith Gronski, director of the OTD program at Methodist, Michel’s unique background is a strong point. Professors with extensive backgrounds in unique settings have a special knowledge and expertise to offer future occupational therapists.

“We were immediately impressed with Dr. Michel’s prestigious career with the U.S. Army that highlighted her skills as a leader and trailblazer,” said Gronski. “Her successful development of rehabilitation programs and staff reflects exactly what we have done here at the MU OTD program as the first entry-level OTD program in the state.”

Michel hopes to simply “be a good professor” who instills her love of occupational therapy within her students. She looks forward to challenging future leaders of occupational therapy in hopes of advancing the practice beyond its traditional settings. These hopes are common amongst the faculty in the OTD program. According to Gronski, applicants and students quickly develop strong connections to the program’s faculty.

“A genuine care for students is a disposition that you cannot teach, and we have successfully built a team that embodies this as an essential value,” she said. “We knew Dr. Michel would be a good fit on our team to fulfill our mission to develop exceptional practitioners who will advance the profession through innovative, authentic practice.”

Pictured: Dr. Sheri Michel, a professor in the Doctor of Occupational Therapy Program at Methodist University, on the MU campus showing her Meritorious Civilian Service Medal.

National education nonprofit, DOD STEM launch College Readiness Program at Terry Sanford High School

07 STEM Terry Sanford HighA two-year College Readiness Program from the National Math and Science Initiative is launching at Terry Sanford High School, a military-connected school near Fort Bragg. The U.S. Department of Defense funds the program.

After one year in NMSI's CRP, students at military-impacted schools average a 45% increase in mastery of college-level concepts in math and science — compared to the national average increase of 5.6%. That increase is 81.5% for Black students, 34% for Latinos and 38.4% for females.

Students with family members serving in the military move an average of six to nine times while they're in elementary and secondary school. NMSI's CRP leverages the College Board's proven Advanced Placement framework, preserving local control and creating consistent learning across all schools. That means students are on pace from their first day in a new school — making all those moves a little easier.

More than 13,000 students enrolled in the Cumberland County School system are military/federally-connected. As one of the founding members of the Military Compact and Military Child Educational Coalition, the district has built a support system for the military child.

“At Cumberland County Schools, we are proud to serve the third largest concentration of military-connected students in the world,” said CCS Superintendent Dr. Marvin Connelly, Jr. “We remain committed to providing all students with high-quality resources and crucial support to help them be successful. The partnership with NMSI will encourage STEM learning and help our students prepare for college and life.”

The DOD STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) program seeks to attract, inspire and develop exceptional STEM talent across the education continuum and advance the current DoD STEM workforce to meet future defense technological challenges.

"Cutting-edge educational opportunities for our DoD students is a combat-multiplier for Fort Bragg," said Col. Scott Pence, Fort Bragg Garrison Commander. "Programs that enrich education for military families support the CSA's Army People Strategy. When we take care of our families, we will have a stronger and more committed Army. We appreciate our local school districts, NMSI and DoD STEM for providing this educational initiative to our military families."

As a nonprofit whose mission is to advance STEM education so all students, especially those furthest from opportunity, can reach their highest potential, NMSI has served more than 250 U.S. schools that have significant enrollment among military-connected students. Based in Dallas, NMSI has a presence in 40 states, serving more than 1,300 high schools to improve student access and achievement through teacher training, collaboration with campus leaders and student-focused resources. Schools that participate in the nonprofit’s CRP see rapid and dramatic increases in the number of students taking AP exams and earning qualified scores

NMSI is a member of the Defense STEM Education Consortium, which is committed to helping improve access for all students to pursue STEM careers and to consider Defense laboratories as places of employment.

Pictured left to right: Howard Lattimore, CCS Military Family & Youth Liaison; Gerhard Guevarra, Fort Bragg School Liaison Officer; Dr. Shevelle Godwin, Fort Bragg School Liaison Officer; Tom Hatch, Principal of Terry Sanford High School

Health Department offers flu vaccine

04 SeniorWomanFluShotHC1601 sourceFlu vaccines are available at the Immunization Clinic in the Health Department office building at 1235 Ramsey St.

To protect the health and safety of staff and clients, the vaccines are available by appointment only at 910-321-7116. Upon arrival at the clinic, participants will complete a short registration form and if insured the insurance company will be billed. Participants will not be billed for flu vaccinations.

Children 18 and younger can also receive free flu vaccines. Persons accompanying children must provide proof of custody.

The Health Department is also partnering with community agencies to provide free flu vaccination clinics throughout Cumberland County.

The public can choose between drive-thru or in-person flu vaccine services. No appointments are required for community flu clinics.

Local Principal of the Year to compete as regional nominee

06 Suzanne OwenFor the second time in as many weeks, Cumberland County Schools has another Sandhills Regional winner.

The district’s 2021 Principal of the Year, Suzanne Owen, has been named the Wells Fargo 2021 Sandhills Regional Principal of the Year.

The Cliffdale Elementary School leader will move forward to compete against seven other regional finalists from across North Carolina.

The next round of competition will be held on March 12 at the Umstead Hotel in Cary. The 2021 Wells Fargo North Carolina Principal of the Year will be announced on May 21 in a special ceremony.

Pictured: Suzanne Owen

Cape Fear Valley Health System imposes visitor restrictions

05 cape fear valley med ctrTo protect staff and patients from risk of COVID-19, all Cape Fear Valley Health System locations, including hospitals and outpatient clinics, are closed completely to visitors until further notice with a few exceptions.

Labor & Delivery: Laboring mothers may have one support person/coach for the duration of their stay.

Pediatric patients: A legal minor may have one parent or guardian with him/her.

Patients who need healthcare decision makers or require communication assistance may have one assistance person
with them.

End-of-life patients may have one one-hour visit with up to four people.

Visitors with symptoms of a fever or respiratory illness including cough or shortness of breath, should remain home. Hospitals will screen visitors for signs and symptoms of illness.

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