By Dr. David Leach
Third-grade student Alexander “AJ” Zimmerman is attending school via the Distance Learning Academy this year and, even remotely, he is making a big impact on his class. An engaged learner and a real self-starter, AJ’s favorite subject is Science, and he has a very clear picture of where he’d like to take his education and how he’ll use it. AJ’s goal: To become a doctor!
“A week into the school year I can already say AJ is among the most exceptional students I’ve had the pleasure of teaching,” said third grade teacher Ms. Amanda Knowles. “He’s a bright light in our class, who inspires us all to think outside the box and explore the world around us.”
Personal motivation has driven AJ to conduct his own examinations into the medical field, and specifically neurological disorders. If you’ve ever wondered why a brain with fluid build-up is unable to store memories as well as a typical learning brain? Well, AJ has done the research and can tell you!
AJ says his interest in the medical field began two years ago, after a family member was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. He began researching Multiple Sclerosis in his free time.
“I wanted to know more about what was going on,” said AJ. “I’ve also studied other things like dyslexia and Angelman Syndrome.”
Ms. Knowles and Ms. Leigh also love how engaged AJ is during their remote class meets. With the inquisitiveness of a scientist, he listens, asks questions and discusses topics with his teacher and classmates freely. His self-study has given AJ an impressive handle on vocabulary, too.
When he’s not completing his classwork, you can find AJ experimenting in his home lab space, which is complete with testing apparatus. One of his main hobbies is examining bacteria under his microscope.
This fall he will be attending online, afterschool courses through the Little Medical School, learning healthcare topics through a curriculum developed by experienced educators, board-certified physicians and trained professionals. He also spends time watching archived videos of actual surgeries on MedTube, an eLearning platform intended primarily for healthcare professionals.
While he is a budding medical scholar, AJ also knows how to go for a good chuckle to connect with his classmates.
“Yes, AJ often wears his lab coat and stethoscope to Google Meets,” said Ms. Knowles.
So, does AJ have a future specialty practice in mind? He sure does!
“I’m interested in neurology and also pediatrics,” he said. “So, I’d really like to become a pediatric neurologist.”
Alexander “AJ” Zimmerman, third-grader at Sanfordville Elementary School, studying remotely this year in the Distance Learning Academy, hopes to become a pediatric neurologist someday.