The student next to the walker, Matt Ballew, mentioned that he attends South Putnam High School.
"You're at South Put? Good for you," Gardner said. "I taught there."
"What did you teach?" Ballew, a junior, asked in response.
"I taught algebra for 41 years," Gardner said.
Ballew and the student who followed Gardner's wheelchair, Morgan Christy, are both a part of the nursing program at Area 30.
Gardner, who has a brace over one of his legs, said he's not worried about the walking exercise.
"This is nothing," he said. "I have to do this every day."
While Gardner walked down the hall, Anne Weatherford, the program's teacher, asked the students questions.
"Why do we follow him with the wheelchair?" Weatherford asked.
"In case he wants to stop," Christy answered.
She also asks if Ballew is engaging Gardner, talking to him and making sure he's OK to continue on the walk.
The walk is one example of the procedures that students need to have completed as a part of the class.
"Our main focus is the CAN (Certified Nursing Assistant) part of it because they receive a certification at the end of the year. They receive that certification once they pass a state test. They have to do 48 procedures to receive it and then they have to get 75 hours of clinical time in," Weatherford said. "Once they do that, they take the state test and once they pass that they are certified to work as a nursing assistant in the state of Indiana."
The students are currently doing clinical training three days a week at either the Waters or Hickory Creek at Sunset. The time at the assisted living facilities counts toward the 75 hours of required clinical time, and helping residents walk counts toward the 48 procedures. Weatherford's nursing class has 22 students in the morning and 12 in the afternoon.
"We have clinicals Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays," Weatherford said. "They basically do what we call activities of daily living, which are procedures that you and I do on a daily basis that someone might need assistance or help with, such as shaving or walking or feeding, things of that nature."
Weatherford said that most of her curriculum comes from state guidelines.
"The program itself is based on the Indiana State Department of Health's Certified Nursing Assisting program. I have to teach specific things -- it doesn't matter where you might take the program, everyone learns the same things," she said.
Weatherford said the class covers a variety of topics, some of them intuitive for a nursing class, some of them less so.
"We talk a lot about communication," Weatherford said. "These kids are all juniors and seniors and texting is their way to communicate. We talk a lot about how to have simple conversations, how to investigate what's going on with them."
The class also covers anatomy, disease processes, nutrition and how to take vital signs such as a pulse, respiration or blood pressure.
"We have a lab where kids spend the first semester practicing on each other," Weatherford said. "We use each other first to learn how to do the procedures safely and correctly, so that when we do come to the facilities in the second semester the kids are able to do it correctly and safely."
Weatherford mentioned the time in clinical is very free form. She tours around the facility, checking on students.
One student, Kelsey Grzesiek, a senior at Greencastle, said that as she was clipping a resident's nails, they kept breaking.
"Did you remember to soak them first?" Weatherford asked her.
Grzesiek said that she did soak her nails to make them softer first.
"You might need to soak them longer, or you might just need to file them," Weatherford said.
Although Weatherford's class focuses on assisted living nursing, she said she brings in a panel of nurses from other disciplines, to give the students a wider view of the profession.
Weatherford said she's glad her students are allowed to get the hands on experience they do. She also said that she is always impressed with the strides students make in the year they have her class.
"I tell students at the start, you will be amazed at how much you grow during this class."