Woonsocket High School teacher, Charlie Meyers, was selected as the 2016 Rhode Island Career and Technical Education Teacher of the Year. Charlie learned at a conference that Woonsocket had one of the highest rates of childhood lead poisoning and wanted to help change that by bringing the Renovation, Repair, and Training (RRP) curriculum into the school. This course is certified by the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH). His students seemed interested in taking the course, so he volunteered to teach it during February vacation and it took off; this is the fourth year the course was offered. This opportunity has also been offered to other Career and Technical Centers in Rhode Island.
Charlie reported to RIDOH: “Twenty-five students have earned their RRP credentials so far. The class is only offered to seniors, but many underclassmen are counting down the days to take the class. We have found that often contractors do not understand how a minuscule amount of lead will cause permanent damage to a child’s brain. We still hear comments from contractors about kids eating paint chips like potato chips! They claim they grew up with lead paint and they survived so this isn’t a serious risk. I believe we need more education for contractors so they get behind the safety methods for lead paint. Their actions will not protect just the child at the job site but also their own children from exposure to the paint dust on their clothing, vehicles, and tools.”