Highschool Students Get College Jumpstart at CBU
By Mye Griffin/MicroMemphis reporter
The Fairview/Middle College campus
March 7, 2010
One way to send your child to a good university is to sock away thousands of dollars each year. A cheaper option? Middle College High School near Cooper-Young where student attend college courses at CBU - for free.
Middle College High School, shares a building with Fairview Middle School at the corner of East Parkway and Central. So students just walk cross the street to take college courses at Christian Brothers University.
MCHS moved to the Fairview site in 2009 after signing a partnership with CBU. Before that, the school was located on the Southwest Tennessee Community College campus and students earned college credit there. MCHS had been housed at Southwest since 1987.
The move to Midtown allows students to now earn credit from a 4-year institution.
MCHS Junior, Caitlyn Knott, says her experience is a “never-ending opportunity." Knott has found the interaction with college professors exciting, and challenging, “The teachers push the kids a lot. They have a problem with any potential failure.”
MCHS and Hollis F. Price Middle College High School (housed on the campus of Lemoyne Owen College) are part of the Middle College National Consortium. The consortium includes approximately forty schools throughout the U.S.
The consortium is backed by some big names in education reform. Funders include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Kellogg Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, and the Ford Foundation.
The primary focus of the school is to allow students from traditionally underrepresented groups to get an early start on college. The program, however, is open to students of all races and ethnicities.
Middle College High School principal, Michelle Armstrong, sees a good education as the most obvious way to improve the city. Armstrong says the equation is simple: more educated people, less crime, more employment.
To prove her point, Armstrong quotes statistics from a 2008 study done by the Alliance for Excellent Education.
“Eight-thousand students who were going to graduate in 2008 dropped out. If you cut that number by half, it would generate tax revenue by four million dollars. It would increase single year income earnings by 40 million dollars and generate 350 more jobs.”
This is why she says that national programs like Middle College work.
“The current juniors and seniors now have to have 21 credit hours to graduate from high school. Previously, students felt as if their senior year was a waste because they were done with most of their high school requirements.” She said. “So rather them wasting a year, they can access college credits and that way, it will deter the likelihood of them dropping out.”
Christian Brothers University president Dr. John Smarelli believes the partnership between the two schools was necessary for first generation college students.
"For many first generation college students, there is a tremendous gap between their perception of the difficulty of earning a college degree at a prestigious university like CBU and the reality of attaining that goal." He said. " We envision this partnership with Middle College High School as a way to bridge this gap for students who are earning their high school diplomas just across the street from our University."
Smarelli says that with this partnership, students develop improved study skills and enhanced critical thinking skills.
Janice Johnson, was the 2007 valedictorian of MCHS. This May, she plans to graduate from Christian Brothers University with a degree in Psychology.
“Those 22 credits will help me graduate earlier than expected, even though I sat out a semester for having my son.” She said. “My best friend also graduated earlier and obtained an engineering certificate before her high school graduation.”
Apparently, students at MCHS like going to their school. According to the Tennessee Department of Education’s school report card, MCHS has 93 percent attendance rate, a 100 percent graduation rate and has 100 percent highly qualified teachers as of 2010.
For student's to attend MCHS, they must apply and be interviewed.
"We don't look for the cream of the crop students, the top two percent; instead we look for ordinary student and give them extradordinary benefits," said Armstrong.
Students can earn up to 60-hours of transferrable college credits. Some classes even count towards high school credits as well as college hours. Students, however, are still required to attain a sufficient score on the American College Test (ACT) for college admittance.
Fairview Elementary is currently under renovations to accommodate Middle College scheduled for completion in August 2012. MicroMemphis is working on a story about the renovations.
HYPERLOCAL NEWS HUB BY THE UNIVERSITY OF MEMPHIS DEPARTMENT OF JOURNALISM
MicroMemphis reporter Mye Griffin
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