June 27, 2008

Dental hygiene graduates’ lesson plan wins prize

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Two recent graduates of Southern Illinois University Carbondale capped their college careers with a nice prize recently for work completed in their dental hygiene studies. Erica H. Bania and Kelly G. Pottorf took the top prize in the Illinois Department of Public Health’s Oral Health Student Scholarship Awards contest for lesson plans they created and taught to fifth- and sixth-graders.

Bania, of New Lenox and Pottorf, an Oak Lawn native who recently moved to Tinley Park, graduated in May from SIUC with bachelor’s degrees in dental hygiene. They crafted the winning lesson plans in conjunction with the senior-level community oral health class taught by Sherri M. Lukes, dental hygiene associate professor.

Pottorf and Bania presented their lesson plans at Carbondale Middle School, teaching youngsters about oral health, tobacco, brushing and flossing and more. “Don’t Rush the Brush” gave the lowdown on gingivitis, cavities and periodontal disease and how to avoid problems through good oral hygiene care. “Tobacco Free is the Way to Be!” addressed the various forms of tobacco and the short- and long-term effects of using them. Hands-on activities and class participation made the lessons quite memorable.

Lukes submitted her students’ lesson plans as entries into the Oral Health Student Scholarship Awards “Community Oral Health Project: Dental and Dental Hygiene Students Caring for Their Communities” competition. Bania and Pottorf claimed $500 prizes in the contest established by the Illinois Department of Public Health, the IFLOSS Coalition and the Illinois Public Health Association. The SIUC Dental Hygiene Program, the only such bachelor’s program in Illinois, is part of the School of Allied Health within the College of Applied Sciences and Arts.

Bania, the daughter of Joseph Bania of Chicago and JoAnn Kress of New Lenox, recently received her dental hygiene license and began working at Searsi DentalWorks in Orland Square Mall. She said she’s enjoying meeting clients and helping them improve their oral health. Pottorf, daughter of Allison and Guy Jensen of Oak Lawn, is currently pursuing job opportunities in the St. Louis area.