Teacher Fired After Allowing Students To Share Blood-Testing Needles

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WRALMiyoshi McMillan outside Overhills High School
A science instructor in North Carolina was deemed to have gone too far in her attempt to give her students some hands-on experience by doing a blood test on themselves. Miyoshi McMillan was fired by Overhills High School in Spring Lake for allowing 16 of her students to prick their own fingers so they could learn how to determine their own blood types, sharing the needles in the process.

As was first reported by TV station WRAL in Raleigh, once the students completed pricking their fingers they were asked to wipe down the lancets with alcohol so that others could use them to do the same. But as The Huffington Post reported, the directive given to students to sterilize the lancets with alcohol might not have been sufficient, as alcohol is not always enough to kill blood-borne pathogens such as hepatitis or HIV.

McMillan did not force students to use their own blood -- along with a small number of lancing needles, the testing kit included synthetic blood -- but one unnamed student was still disturbed by the whole situation. The student, who has not been named in reports, alerted her parents, who in turn told school officials. McMillan, who entered teaching as an extension of her background in biology and has yet to formally receive her teaching license, was fired later that day. No injuries or health problems have been reported as a result of the lesson.

In speaking to WRAL, McMillan described the dismissal as heavy-handed. After all, she pointed out, "it's OK to use [a lancet]. It's there. ... if it was not OK to use, then I think it should have been taken out during the summer." And she added that many of her students found the exercise rewarding. "Some students were, like, 'Oh, this is cool. I want to know my blood type,'" she said.

But Harnett County Schools spokeswoman Patricia Harmon-Lewis told the TV station that teachers are explicitly warned about the use of blood in the classroom. "We don't want students to be, first of all, sharing a needle, and second, to have any type of human blood in the classroom," she said. School Principal Kylon Middleton described the incident as "a nightmare."

The experience is a blow for the Greensboro College lateral teaching program that placed McMillan in the classroom in the first place. Another local TV station, WFMY in Greensboro, said the program places 20 to 30 professionals in classrooms each year in a bid to promote teaching as a second career.

But programs like the one at Greensboro have an inherent challenge before them; "just because you know your content doesn't mean that you know how to teach your content," Rebecca Blomgren, the director of the Greensboro College Teacher Education Program, told WFMY.

In the case of McMillan, Overhill High sent letters home with every student in its biology classes, urging parents to have their children screened for blood-borne diseases. McMillan, for her part, said that she will leave teaching to seek her doctorate. "The best is yet to come for me," she told WRAL.
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