Harper Woods teacher selected for Centers for Disease Control fellowship

By: Brendan Losinski | Advertiser Times | Published May 30, 2017

 Rick Blauvelt

Rick Blauvelt

HARPER WOODS — Rick Blauvelt, a science teacher at Harper Woods High School, has been selected for a fellowship during the summer months with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

Known as the Science Ambassador Fellowship, the program brings in teachers from around the country to learn more about health-related topics from experts in the field. It was designed to allow for these educators to bring back what they learn to their respective districts and promote science education.

“It’s an annual fellowship that’s offered to 24 teachers, and it was something I applied for with the CDC,” said Blauvelt. “I have a degree in public health from the University of Michigan, so I have some background in this. A field of over 400 teachers applied.”

The fellowship will take place between Sunday, July 9, and Sunday, July 16.

“I will be in Atlanta for a week in July,” said Blauvelt. “We’re going to be doing a number of things; primarily, we’ll be designing a curriculum to bring public health into childhood education. It will depend on which of four modules they split us into: emerging diseases, general health and obesity, clean water initiatives, and environmental issues. We’ll also be doing tours of the CDC and listening to guest speakers.”

Blauvelt said he would be happy to study any of the four areas offered as part of the program.

“I’m interested in all four areas,” he said. “The emerging diseases module is probably more of what I’m interested in, because my degree is in public health and molecular epidemiology, so it’s the most relatable for me. Water quality would be particularly interesting because of the relevance of the crisis in Flint, and obesity would be noteworthy because it’s a relevant topic for students due to the related health issues, so I just said to put me wherever they needed me.”

Blauvelt currently teaches biology, honors biology and chemistry at Harper Woods High School, and he has taught earth science, integrated science anatomy, physiology and health care careers. He also has worked in hospitals as an Oakland Health System laboratory director, which he said probably helped him get chosen for the fellowship.

“This national appointment is a tremendous compliment to Mr. Blauvelt, and well-deserved,” said Harper Woods Superintendent Todd Biederwolf. “We have so many exceptional staff here in Harper Woods — staff who can do anything, even on the national level, but instead put their primary focus here locally with the students of Harper Woods Schools.”

Blauvelt and Biederwolf agreed that this trip will be a great opportunity not only for Blauvelt himself, but for the entire district.

“I have two objectives,” said Blauvelt. “One is to bring back to my classroom and colleagues ways to better integrate public health. Second, I would like to pass on what I learn to other teachers. There are a number of reasons why programs like this are important. Our society is less healthy overall, particularly in preventable diseases. Public health is very relatable to anyone. Some people don’t take the subject of science as seriously as they should, so it’s important to get science out there when and where we can.”