Lufkin ISD is partnering with Angelina College and the T.L.L. Temple Foundation to create an Early College High School in order to make college a reality for students who might not otherwise have the opportunity and/or support. An Early College High School is an innovative high school that provides students with up to 60 college credit hours toward either an associate degree or bachelor’s degree at no cost to the student while receiving a high school diploma.
There are many benefits to students enrolled in the Early College High School. College tuition, books, and instructional fees are completely free up to 60 hours. Students will continue to receive high school credits and can even participate in high school clubs and activities. The cohort is small with a maximum amount of only 125 students in the program each year. The students will have all the support they need to be successful including tutoring, access to Angelina College library and tutoring centers, as well as academic counseling services.
Charlotte Davis, ECHS Director said, “One of the goals of the Early College High School model is to create a ‘college going culture’ in one’s family. This program offers rigorous instruction and accelerated courses; provides academic and social support services to help students succeed; increases college readiness; and reduces barriers to college access.”
The administrators of Lufkin ISD and Angelina College have done extensive planning and engineering of the program since July 2015 with the goal of beginning the school in the fall of 2018. Strategic planning, the hiring of a director, and securing instructors for the program have all taken place in order to get the school ready. The students have applied and been accepted based on one or more of the following criteria:
- The student must be the first in their family to attend college.
- The student desires to attend college but does not have the money.
- The student is motivated to be challenged with college-level course work.
- The student is willing to receive academic guidance from dedicated, collegiate instructors.
Lynn Torres, Superintendent of Lufkin ISD, expressed her enthusiasm for the collaboration with Angelina College and the T.L.L. Temple Foundation in order for students to have another option for college credit.
She said, “Some of our students do not have the support from home or the money to be able to afford a college education. This partnership allows these students to not only take enough classes for an associate degree, but to also have the additional support from college instructors, teachers, and counselors. This partnership is unique in that dual credit classes will be taught on the Lufkin High School campus by Lufkin teachers who are certified as adjunct instructors for Angelina College. We want to make sure our students’ first college experience is a positive one. Having them on their home campus allows us to provide support structures to ensure their success.”
The first students to participate in the ECHS have already been chosen and will begin the program in the fall of 2018. The project began with the design of a course of study so the participating students in the ECHS will graduate with a high school diploma and an associate degree at or near the same time. Second, a process for collecting, sharing, and reviewing data to access the students’ progress will be implemented. In addition, the project will provide great opportunities for ECHS teachers and higher education faculty to collaborate through planning and professional development to enhance the education process. Grant funds will be used for implementation of Lufkin ECHS and to contribute to its success in years one through three of operation with sustainability of Lufkin ECHS beyond that period being the responsibility of the partnership between Lufkin ISD and Angelina College.
Dr. Michael Simon, president of Angelina College, said, “Working with Lufkin I.S.D. and the T.L.L. Temple Foundation to create the ECHS has been a rewarding experience for everyone involved. Angelina College’s mission is to provide quality educational opportunities and services to help students in our service area reach their full potential. We know that the ECHS students will be prepared for the future because of this partnership.”
Wynn Rosser, president and CEO of the T.L.L. Temple Foundation, shares, “Our board of directors couldn’t be happier about this project. It’s a tremendous win for our region.” Rosser continues, “This project will increase the secondary and post-secondary educational successes to help break the cycle of poverty in our region and contribute to our regional economy by sustaining a thriving educated population.”
Since its founding in 1962, the T.L.L. Temple Foundation has invested more than $440 million, primarily to strengthen communities in Deep East Texas. The T.L.L. Temple Foundation works alongside families and communities to build a thriving Deep East Texas and to alleviate poverty, creating access and opportunities for all. For more information about the foundation, visit www.tlltemple.foundation.
Torres said, “We simply could not have the ECHS without the support from the T.L.L. Temple Foundation. We are beyond fortunate to have a partnership with a foundation like the T.L.L Temple Foundation that knows the importance of investing in education. Our students are the true beneficiaries of the foundation’s generosity.”