Teacher awarded for HIV education | NevadaAppeal.com

Teacher awarded for HIV education

Teri Vance

When Lisa Schuette warns her students about the dangers of drugs and promiscuity, she knows what she’s talking about.

With 14 years’ experience working in law enforcement and juvenile probation, Schuette has seen first-hand the consequences of such actions.

“I’m very frank and honest with them,” she said. “It’s wonderful to be able to really talk to students and be candid with them.”

Schuette, a health teacher at Carson Middle School for the past nine years, was awarded the HIV Educator of the Year from the Natalie Silva Wallin Family Foundation.

Robinette Bacon, the health education coordinator for the Nevada Department of Education, said Schuette was chosen in part because of her effort to promote sex education in middle schools.

As the head of the district’s family values advisory committee last year, Bacon said, Schuette was instrumental in providing sex ed to 91.2 percent of middle school students, the second highest percentage in Nevada’s rural districts.

Schuette said it is important to her that students participate so they can learn the dangers without having to experience them.

“I compare it to fire suppression versus fire prevention,” she said. “What I’m doing is prevention. I’m teaching them to not put themselves in risky situations.”

And, she said, they listen.

“When students learn early on that their choices matter, they’re likely to make the right one,” she said. “With great choices, they don’t have to face the problems of addiction and sexually transmitted infections.”

The Natalie Silva Wallin Family Foundation was started in honor of a Sparks woman who unknowingly contracted HIV from her husband who did not disclose to her that he was bisexual.

She was an advocate of AIDS and HIV awareness in the 1990s and was the first speaker to address the issue in Carson City schools, according to Bacon.

Schuette said she was honored to be chosen and gave credit to her fellow educators as well.

“It means a lot to me,” she said. “I work very hard promoting health classes. But I’m one person of many who deserve this. Everybody out there who is teaching about drugs and STDs is as passionate as I am.”

Schuette will be recognized at Tuesday’s school board meeting and her name will be added to a plaque of recipients at the Nevada Department of Education.