The Neptune High School JumpStart Medical Science Academy, a “mini medical school” designed to develop students’ interest in health-and medical-related careers, has been named winner of the 2015 School Leader Award .

The rigorous program combines real-life and academic experiences to fuel students’ interest in the medical field. Activities include interactive lectures given by doctors from Jersey Shore University Hospital; hands-on work in different departments at the hospital; and panel discussions with medical students and admissions officials at Rutgers’ Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.  Students are also trained to be certified in CPR.

The program, for which students must apply, was one of 13 nominees for the prestigious School Leader award, which will be presented at Workshop 2015 in October.

The JumpStart Medical Science Academy offers students an opportunity to explore academic and career opportunities within a variety of medical fields, while they are enrolled in the traditional high school program. The Academy has developed partnerships with private, community, county and state resources, as well as businesses and higher education programs. These resources provide real-world settings that make the programs and learning experiences authentic.

Students make biweekly hospital visits, work with mentors, and through a new partnership with Liberty Science Center, watch simulcast live surgery. There are 100 Neptune students in grades 9-12 enrolled in the program, which began in 2008. During the surgery simulcast, students from surrounding school districts will be invited to attend as well.

“The JumpStart Medical Science Academy will continue to grow and be a dynamic program for years to come,” school officials wrote, in the nominating documents.

The program funding sources are the Neptune Township Board of Education; Meridian Healthcare; Rutgers’ Robert Wood Johnson Medical School; New Jersey Hospital Association; and the Ann May Center for Nursing.

Honorable mention in the 2015 School Leader Awards program goes to the World Language Immersion Program in the Englewood Cliffs School District; Mr. B’s Backyard Classroom in Galloway Township; and LEAP (Local Enriched Academic/Arts Program) in the Piscataway School District.

Programs nominated for the School Leader Award are judged based on their level of innovation, how well they meet the specific needs of students, the relationship of the program to the state’s curriculum standards, and program results. The judges for the 2015 School Leader Awards were Dan Sinclair, NJSBA vice president for county activities; Anne Gallagher, director of communications for the New Jersey Association of School Administrators; and Dan Higgins, director of communications for the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association.