AHEC - North Carolina Area Health Education Centers Program
Touched by an AHEC: Stories from 100 Counties

Cindy Ferrucci and student

Cindy Ferrucci

Northwest AHEC's "Puppet Lady"

and students from Shoals Elementary School in Surry County

Iredell and Surry Counties | Northwest AHEC

Health Careers "Puppet Bunch"

Northwest AHEC’s Cindy Ferrucci is commonly known by many children as the “Puppet Lady.” During the 2007-2008 school year, Cindy traveled across our 17-county region to 55 elementary schools, introducing over 4,900 students in grades K-2 to health care careers using her Puppet Bunch presentation. The program is designed specifically for this age group as a means of breaking down perceived ethnic and gender barriers to health care professions. Students participate in group games to increase their awareness of healthy behaviors and to learn the importance of calling emergency “911.”

Cindy’s presentation proved to be particularly useful for a student at N.B. Mills Elementary in Statesville. The student's mother writes about the experience:

“Your presentation ended up being more helpful than you could have known. My daughter tripped on some steps that evening and broke her forearm. Once calmed down, she was reminded of the video, and I think it really calmed her down to know what was going to happen and that they were going to make her feel better. She was very brave and calm...much calmer than me. I truly believe that your video and puppets played a huge part in that. I am very grateful. Thank you!”

Ingle Armstrong-Sloop, school counselor at Shoals Elementary School adds, "Cindy has visited Shoals Elementary School for the past seven years. She brings a lively, interactive puppet presentation to our Kindergarten students. They learn important facts about calling “911,” are introduced to a wide variety of health careers, and thoroughly enjoy using the puppets themselves. Students are encouraged to ask questions, and always “buzz” with excitement following the visit. Cindy’s upbeat style and enthusiasm are contagious! We are grateful for the valuable, informative, practical service Northwest AHEC and Mrs. Ferrucci provide.

Cindy also visits with our third graders during the CATCH program. These students love sharing their experiences and learning in a “hands on” way about health careers. In the days after the presentation, students continue to talk about what they learned and express a new-found interest in their own career choices for the future. Students’ often refer back even years later to what they learned from this program, and how the information continues to shape their thinking. What an awesome partnership we have enjoyed over the years. As the school counselor, I understand the value of education and active participation in student’s learning. I sincerely appreciate the hard work, service, dedication and professionalism of Mrs. Ferrucci."