AI Students and Faculty Take Part in the Annual Colon Cancer Alliance Run/Walk

Students and faculty from American Institute’s Toms River campus took part in the annual Jersey Shore Colon Cancer Run/Walk

July 15, 2017, Toms River, NJ – On July 15, nearly two dozen students, staff, and friends from American Institute’s Toms River campus came together at the Great Walk in Pier Village to take part in the annual Colon Cancer Alliance Undy Run/Walk.

Stacy Chait, Senior Admissions Representative for the Toms River campus, formed the first AI team to participate in the walk after her boyfriend’s father passed away from colon cancer in February 2015. It has become an annual event.

“We do the walk in his memory every year,” Ms. Chait said. “It’s amazing how much support we get from American Institute. Working together, our team raised over $1,000 this year.” Toms River students also contribute to the cause by purchasing the “right” to wear denim to class on “Blue Jean Wednesdays.”

American Institute encourages students and staff to take part in community events and to support causes that touch their hearts. Service is one of the school’s core values, and events like the Undy Run/Walk provide students with an opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to the community.

“It was great to have so many students and staff being a part of this important day,” said Ms. Chait. “I am so happy that I work for such an amazing organization. I can’t thank my American Institute Family enough for all they do for the walk every year.”

Annual “Light It Up Blue” campus event raises awareness about autism

April 2, 2017, all locations – On April 2nd, American Institute campuses joined the world in celebrating “Light it up Blue” to help raise awareness about autism. Many staff and students came to class wearing blue, signifying their support for research and programs that assist the rising number of children and adults who live with autism.

Light it up Blue 2017

Somerset campus supports Light It Up Blue 2017

“We celebrate Light It Up Blue because this is a very important cause, and many of our students, faculty and staff are directly affected by autism,” said West Hartford Campus President Tim Bush. “It also ties into American Institute’s learning experience, because we value service. We want to get our students involved in outside events to create a connection with the community.”

Light It Up Blue is an annual event created by the nonprofit organization Autism Speaks. It coincides with the United Nations’ World Autism Awareness Day and launches World Autism Month.

In cities and communities worldwide, homes, businesses, iconic buildings and landmarks – including the White House – are “lit blue” for a day. Autism Speaks also sponsors community events and educational activities to increase understanding and acceptance and promote support for people with autism.

“American Institute has participated in Light it Up Blue for several years, and we are happy to join in that tradition in the new Somerset campus as well” added Somerset Campus President, Jamil Gilmer. “We all dress in blue and take photos of everyone who participates to help spread awareness.”

According to Autism Speaks, autism spectrum disorders refer to a range of conditions that can include difficulty with social skills, repetitive behaviors, communication challenges and other issues. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates autism affects 1 in 68 children in the United States, and rates of diagnosis have risen over the past decade.

“Many pathologies are studied by our students because we are an allied health school,” said Mr. Bush. “Light It Up Blue is an opportunity for our students to research and learn about autism while they see it in their social media and news feeds as well.”

Students wear Blue Jeans for Babies to raise funds for the March of Dimes

March 2017, all locations – According to the March of Dimes, every day babies are born sick or so small they can fit in the palm of a hand. To help support the organization’s efforts to improve neonatal care and infant health, the American Institute takes part in the annual “Blue Jeans for Babies” fundraiser.

On all American Institute campuses, March is designated for “Blue Jeans for Babies” dress-down fundraising efforts. Students and staff donate funds, “permitting” them to wear blue jeans to class on Wednesdays and/or Fridays. All the money raised is donated to the March of Dimes, where seventy-seven cents of every dollar directly supports research and community programs.

blue jeans for babies

Clifton students support Blue Jeans for Babies fundraiser for March of Dimes

Carmen Haynes led the initiative on the Clifton campuses. “I went to every class to introduce our event, explaining the importance of Blue Jeans for Babies and how crucial students’ donations are to the March of Dimes.” Instructors also posted flyers in online courses as well as around campus and reminded students about the fundraiser throughout the month.

Dozens of students are participating,” said Ms. Haynes. “Including many ‘repeat supporters’ – students who have consistently supported the cause. So far, we’ve raised more than $100, and we’re only partway through the month!”

Blue Jeans for Babies is one of many national and international fundraising and awareness campaigns that American Institute encourages students to support.

“We participate in these events to support important causes and to show students the importance of being active in our community,” said Assistant Campus President, Sherry Muse. “Teaching the students to be concerned about the community and to participate in events like Blue Jeans for Babies directly supports our core values and the educational experience.”

American Institute Campuses Celebrate Dental Assistants Recognition Week

Dental Assistant Recognition Week (DARW)

March 5-11, 2017, all locations – American Institute joined in the week-long international celebration of the contributions made by dental assistants. This year’s theme for Dental Assistant Recognition Week (DARW) was “Patient focused with passion and purpose,” reflecting the growing importance of dentistry’s role in health care and the responsibilities of dental assistants.

“Dental Assistants are an important part of our AI family, and they are critical team members in every dental practice,” said Brooke Baran, Vice President of Education. “American Institute is proud to take this opportunity to honor our hardworking students and graduates who demonstrate constant dedication to their careers.”

The Toms River campus hosted a lunch for dental assisting students and faculty. Guest speaker Dr. Greenberg of Mt. Holly Family Dentistry, spoke about the role of the dental assistant and what dentists expect from an extern coming into the office.

“Dr. Greenberg’s presentation provoked a lot of questions from the students,” said Donielle Fitch, Director of Education. “It was a very intimate conversation, as Dr. Greenberg sat with the students and shared insights from his 30+ years of experience.”

A group of 12 students and two faculty members also traveled to Baltimore to tour the National Museum of Dentistry. Designated by Congress as the official museum of the dental profession in the U.S., the museum houses an extensive collection of more than 40,000 dental instruments, furniture, artwork and exhibits focused on the importance of oral health. For many of the students, it was an eye-opening experience.

The students were very impressed by the history of the leaders in dentistry, including the many women and minorities who have held and now hold significant rolls in dental education and in professional organizations,” said Ms. Fitch.

Favorite moments during their visit including viewing an old black and white clip from the television series “The Little Rascals,” in which one of the kids has a dental appointment. “It was very funny, and the students enjoyed comparing that treatment room to the rooms we have today.”

Other exhibits reminded the students how far dentistry as advanced over the years. “They were astounded (and a little grossed out!) when they realized that long ago, assistants didn’t use gloves while assisting.”

Congratulations and thank you to all our dental assisting students, faculty and graduates for their dedication to this valuable profession. A week isn’t long enough to honor your many contributions.

Toms River Campus Celebrates Dr. Seuss’s Birthday by Reading to Children

Read-Across-America-Day-2017 March 8, 2017, Toms River, NJ – Every year on March 2nd, The National Education Association celebrates Dr. Seuss’ birthday with Read Across America Day,’ an event focused on encouraging children to read. American Institute’s Toms River campus takes part by organizing a special reading event for the children of students and staff.

“As educators, we recognize that reading impacts a child’s future success by building vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension,” said Shannon Arnold, Director of Career Services. “We are proud to support this effort in our Toms River community by bringing in children to our campus for a ‘reading corner’ featuring books by Dr. Seuss.”

Families of students and staff arrive to find the campus decorated with characters and quotes from Dr. Seuss’ books, with complimentary copies of his books handed out to the first ten children to arrive, and children also enjoy coloring activities and refreshments.

This is always a fun event for the campus, because the children are so engaged,” said Ms. Arnold. “One young girl even climbed into my lap to help me tell the story!”

American Institute celebrates education at every level, and strives to create opportunities to connect with the community. Read Across America is a particularly popular event, because it allows students and faculty to share their love of reading with the next generation.

“We all grew up with Dr. Seuss,” said Campus President, Tim Rodgers. “Reading his books again is as much fun for us as it is for the children.”

Most of all, the adults enjoy watching the children respond to the stories. One young girl was so excited by the story that she jumped out of her seat and waved two balloons, while a very young baby surprised his mother by listening intently through the entire event.

“We love to get our students’ families involved in events here at the campus. The children are so excited about seeing the classrooms where their mom or dad is learning just like they do in their schools,” said Ms Arnold. “It reinforces the message that learning never has to stop, even if you’re grown!”

Clifton Students Help Keep Father English Food Pantry Well-stocked

February 17, 2017, Clifton, NJ – Bags of rice fill a box by the front door to American Institute’s Clifton campus. There is brown rice and white rice, long-grain rice and wild rice, because different people like different kinds of rice. Another month, the box was filled with different kinds of beans, all donated by students and all destined for the shelves at the Father English food pantry.

American Institute Donates to Father English Food Pantry

Assistant Campus President, Sherry L. Muse, on one of the donation drop-off days with Father English staff.

More than 1,500 families, including some American Institute students, depend on the pantry every month, says Admissions Representative Theresa (Terry) Barreto, who helps coordinate the school’s food donation effort. “It’s a critical resource for our community.”

The pantry was named for a Catholic priest who once ran bingo fundraisers at the church. He also distributed food and clothing to people in need. One night, as he was leaving the church after bingo, he was shot and killed by one of the people he’d helped earlier in the day. Since then, the community has supported the pantry to honor his dedication to service.

The Father English pantry is unusual, because it is organized like a grocery store, with each item priced in points. Patrons are given a certain number of points to “spend” based on the size of their family, and they can shop the aisles for the foods they prefer.

Everyone should have choices,” Terry says. “Some families have medical issues, or allergies. At Father English, they can choose the foods they want.”

Each month, the pantry lets Terry know what types of food they need most, and Terry tells the students. At holidays and before school lets out for summer, there are special drives to ensure the pantry is well stocked for those critical times of year. By the end of the month, the box by the front door is full again.

One of our core values at American Institute is service, and our students embrace that with their whole hearts,” says Sherry Muse, Assistant Campus President. “This is our community, and we all have something to give. Buying a few extra cans of beans to put in the box is an easy way to help make our community stronger.”

American Institute Opens New Location in Somerset, NJ

January 4, 2017, Somerset, NJ — On Wednesday, January 4, 2017, American Institute celebrated the Grand Opening of a new campus located in Somerset, NJ. The Somerset campus is the third location in New Jersey for the American Institute family of schools, and begins career training with the first classes of students in January and February.

American Institute Somerset Campus Grand Opening The Somerset County Business Partnership and Franklin Township City Council attended and participated in a ribbon cutting ceremony at the event. Toms River, NJ campus’ Massage Therapy Program Director, Caroline Weinerman, brought students to provide chair massages at the event, and attendees enjoyed a relaxing break during the festivities. Campus President Jamil Gilmer noted, “I love seeing students engage and interact with our community and how proud they are when they are able to practice their new skills and then are praised for doing it well. It’s why I am so passionate about what we do at American Institute; seeing people grow and learn and change in positive ways each and every day is what keeps me going. I’m proud to be bringing this opportunity to those in the Somerset county area who are looking to make a positive change in 2017.”

Chief Operating Officer, Christopher Coutts, added, “At the heart of what we do at American Institute is a passion to help people change their lives, and it’s exciting to bring that opportunity to the Somerset county area. Our graduates will be assisting our families and communities when they see the doctor, dentist, or need massage therapy or office administrative help, and we’re passionate about making sure we provide the best possible training experience we can as we help them pursue their new career so they are well prepared as they head into the field. As future employers of our students and graduates, the support from our local business community in the Franklin Township Chamber of Commerce and Somerset County Business Partnership is an important aspect of our future here in Somerset, and I’m grateful for all those who were able to join us today for our Grand Opening celebration.”

Said Chief Financial Officer, Stephen Schwartz, “We’re excited to expand our family of schools into another community in New Jersey, and we’re thankful for the support of our local community in helping us celebrate the new campus. We look forward to expanding our partnerships in the Somerset area in the months and years ahead.”

Cosmetology student wins gift card in ‘Good Deeds’ essay drawing

Jessica Almonte, Admissions Representative, presents Cosmetology student Shannon Moenich with the gift card she won in the Good Deeds essay contest.

January 2017, Margate, FL – Shannon Moenich is working at Applebee’s while she pursues her education in cosmetology at American Institute. In December, the restaurant hosted its annual ‘Breakfast with Santa’ event, which raises funds and collects donations for Toys for Tots. Shannon shared the story of her experience serving at the event in an essay submitted to the Margate campus’ “Good Deeds” contest.

“I remembered the many breakfasts with Santa my parents brought me to and the magical delights of those moments,” Shannon said. “I knew I had to participate in the event, because it is so important for the children, who believe in the magic of the holidays.”

For three weeks, Shannon told all the families she served at Applebee’s about the Breakfast with Santa event. She sold 39 tickets, including two for her husband and her ten-month-old daughter, Charlee.

“Even though money is tight in my family, I knew the price we paid for the tickets would help a child who had no Christmas coming,” Shannon said. “Our Christmas tree would not have any presents under it either, but at least my daughter would get to meet Santa for the first time.”

On the day of the event, the jolly old elf arrived right on schedule, on a fire truck rather than his traditional sleigh. Wearing her own Santa hat, Shannon cheerfully brought out pancakes, sausage, eggs and chocolate milk for the families in attendance, earning $42 in tips.

“I considered keeping my tips, because we could really use the money. But I decided to donate the $42 to the toy drive,” Shannon said. “Times are hard for us, but somewhere they are even harder for another family.”

The Good Deeds essay contest provided an opportunity for Shannon and other students at the Margate campus to share their stories of service, which is a core value at American Institute.

Shannon’s essay ended with the words, “Good deeds are contagious. Paying it forward is something that we should do. My Christmas is complete.

As it turned out, there was one more gift under the tree for Shannon. Her essay won the contest drawing, and she was presented with a $150 gift card. Happy Holidays, Shannon, and thank you for your generosity and dedication to your community.

December Do Good encourages acts of kindness during the holiday season

December 2016, All Locations – Throughout December, American Institute students and staff were encouraged to find ways to contribute to the school community through the annual “December Do Good” competition. Students who demonstrated acts of kindness toward other students earned the opportunity to win a prize.

Every time a student or staff member did a good deed, they got to spin our ‘Do Good Wheel’,” said Brooke Baran, Vice President of Education. “We want to celebrate those little acts that really make a difference in the lives of our students and our school community.”

Antonio James, a student at the Toms River campus, was nominated for a chance at the wheel because of his dedication to helping his fellow classmates with their lab work. For his patience and kindness, Antonio got to spin for the chance to win one of several themed prizes, including the “Sweet Tooth” (a bag of candy bars), “Homebody Heaven” (a candle, facemask, and warm fuzzy socks), and “Feel the Music” (headphones and an iTunes gift certificate).

“This is our fourth year doing this project, and we all really look forward to it,” said Ms Baran. “It motivates students to do good knowing that their acts of kindness will not go unnoticed or unappreciated.

Day Care Staff Enjoy Massages from American Institute Students

December 8, 2016, Toms River, NJ – Was Santa listening in? A member of the American Institute staff happened to chat with the manager of a local day care center while supporting Santa Claus visits with chair massages at Ocean County mall. Before the event was over, Santa had granted two holiday wishes.

We’re always looking for opportunities to give back to the community and to demonstrate our students’ skills,” said Carrie Weinerman, Massage Therapy Program Director at the Toms River campus of American Institute. “And no one works harder than day care employees. So, I offered to have our students come to the day care center and give massages to the staff.”

The next week, Ms. Weinerman and her students brought their new massage therapy skills to the Learning Experience Day Care Center, where 25 employees enjoyed well-deserved chair massages.

“The students massaged all the teachers, assistants, administration – everyone that works there came in,” said Ms. Weinerman. “They were so excited and so thankful. We all loved every second of it.”


Massage Therapy Students Share Their Skills

The students also handed out business cards and circulated a sign-in sheet so the day care staff could make follow-up appointments at the American Institute student massage clinic.

It’s important for our students to see that people in many different occupations need massages,” said Ms. Weinerman. “They feel so great knowing they helped so many people, and that everyone they massaged absolutely loved it. It gives the students a lot of confidence.”

The students did such a fantastic job, in fact, that the day care manager asked if they could come back regularly. Ms. Weinerman is planning to organize monthly visits next year.

“I’m proud of our team and our students for their commitment to make a difference in our community by providing service wherever and whenever they can. It’s an important part of what makes American Institute such a great place to be, and I’m delighted to see it in action,” noted Campus President Timothy M. Rodgers.

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AI Students and Faculty Take Part in the Annual Colon Cancer Alliance Run/Walk

July 15, 2017, Toms River, NJ – On July 15, nearly two dozen students, staff, and friends from American Institute’s Toms River campus came together at the Great Walk in Pier Village to take part in the annual Colon Cancer Alliance Undy Run/Walk. Stacy Chait, Senior Admissions Representative for the Toms River campus, formed the […]


Annual “Light It Up Blue” campus event raises awareness about autism

April 2, 2017, all locations – On April 2nd, American Institute campuses joined the world in celebrating “Light it up Blue” to help raise awareness about autism. Many staff and students came to class wearing blue, signifying their support for research and programs that assist the rising number of children and adults who live with […]