Meet PAISD’s health science instructors, using decades of experience for new generation

Published 12:10 am Sunday, June 21, 2020

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Regina Cole, Dianne Marks and Barbara Minard are three women behind one of Port Arthur ISD’s most successful programs.

Career and Technology Education’s Health Science Technology class centers on the knowledge, experience and love of teaching from directors who dedicate their lives to the medical field.

Marks, a graduate from Lamar University’s first BSN program in 1978, is a registered nurse with a long history of experience and professionalism.

Dianne Marks

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She started her career in the medical field working at a hospital in Beaumont right out of college. With a specialty in public health, Marks moved to the Port Arthur Health Department where she worked for 12 years.

The Beaumont native returned home for a little while before receiving an offer from the Port Arthur Independent School District in 1997 to take her place as the next health science lead instructor.

“I always liked going to school,” Marks said. “It was different being in a classroom, but I saw the need for students who had the desire to become health care workers and thought I could be a benefit to them. The opportunity was presented to me, and I decided not to turn my back on it.”

Marks’ has been the lead instructor for 23 years, noting the changes in an adapting world from within four walls.

“The students still have the same goals of wanting to be successful,” she said. “Of course it’s a different generation and they have access to more technology, and fewer students drive their own cars, but I see the changes.

“The students have different goals. They don’t all want to be nurses anymore because there are so many other different positions, but one thing that’s never changed, they all come in knowing they want to help people.”

Marks said the most rewarding part of the job is seeing others go on to change lives.

“The best thing is to see that there are several students who graduate from PAISD who are now working as health care workers, as nurses, nurse practitioners, dentists, etc.,” she said. “They are in medical school, working in the military or becoming teachers. It’s amazing to see the growth and I will miss interacting with the students, laughing with the students and seeing their love grow for the medical field every day.”

The 64-year old completed her last year at PAISD in 2019-20.

“I’m not retiring as a nurse,” she said. “I’m not leaving my co-workers. It’s just a different season. I’m not going to be in a classroom everyday, but I’m not leaving altogether. I plan on still being a nurse for the long haul and to continue having a positive impact on the healthcare system and community.”

Barbara Minard

Marks’ fellow co-worker and prodigy, Barbara Minard, said she is going to miss the leadership of the veteran educator.

“Mrs. Marks has been a phenomenal lead nurse for our program,” she said. “The experiences that she brought to the students and to the faculty were amazing.”

Minard said she will miss Marks’ ability to assist with classroom management the most.

“My first year I had two students that didn’t get along very well, but Mrs. Marks helped me smooth things over to bridge that gap,” she said. “She is just incredible with students. I’m going to miss her, but we will definitely continue to stay friends.”

Minard’s own winding path in the medical field led her to PAISD six years ago.

“Initially, I started out in customer service at Walmart,” she said. “I found that was rewarding financially for Walmart, but I wanted something more rewarding for myself and the community so I decided to go to nursing school.”

Minard volunteered at the Medical Center of Southeast Texas and the Mid-Jefferson Extended Care Hospital to learn more about the health care system from the inside.

The Port Arthur native then enrolled in the Licensed Vocational Nursing program at Lamar State College-Orange.

“I wanted to really know what it was to be a nurse, so I started at the bottom,” Minard said. “After that I knew I was destined to do a little bit more, so I completed that program and went on to the Lamar Associated Degree Program for Nursing.”

After receiving her degree, Minard started her professional career working as a fulltime nurse at St. Mary’s Hospital in Port Arthur.

Before heading to PAISD, Minard also made stops as a correctional nurse for juveniles at the Jefferson County Correctional Facility. She worked for the Baptist Hospital of Southeast Texas in Beaumont and was a nurse reviewer for the State of Texas.

In 2014 she finally joined the health science department alongside Marks.

“I’ve always been an educator as a nurse,” Minard said. “We are taught to teach the families of patients at the bedside, but the benefit for me was the opportunity to help shape and mold young minds to have the traditional nursing experience I had.”

Minard loves her job.

“There are some frustrating moments, but you learn to push through it because you know the outcome is going to be beneficial for the students,” she said. “If I can help shape and mold someone to replace another strong nurse, I’m in it to the end.”

Regina Cole-Bellard

Rounding out the team is Regina Cole-Bellard.

Cole-Bellard started as a health science instructor last year learning under the tutelage of Minard and Marks.

“I was surprised when I came in,” she said. “They have so much knowledge and it made me feel insecure in my own abilities, but they really helped me along the way to be confident in my skills and in teaching my students.”

Marks is mentoring Cole in order to obtain her teaching certificate.

“I got a lot of advice from her and I will continue to get advice from her,” Cole said. “It’s an amazing opportunity to be working alongside both of them.”

Cole-Bellard said her favorite part of the past year was getting to know the students.

“The senior class was a phenomenal class for me,” she said. “I was really excited to see them come at 12:15 p.m. every day. Their knowledge base amazed me. They really truly were intelligent and I’m looking forward to what the future holds for them.”

Similar to Minard, Cole-Bellard started out her career as a Licensed Vocational Nurse. After working in and out of nursing homes, she eventually became a mainstay at St. Mary’s Hospital from 2000-15 before transferring to St. Elizabeth’s where she stayed until last year.