When 125 Lufkin I.S.D. students begin their high school classes this fall, they will not only be working towards completing their high school diplomas; they will simultaneously be earning up to 60 college credit hours towards either an associate degree or certificate program at no cost to their families. This opportunity for Lufkin students is the result of an innovative model developed through a partnership between the school district and Angelina College.
Because of this program, funded through a grant by T.L.L. Temple Foundation, college will now be a reality for Lufkin I.S.D. students who might not otherwise have the opportunity and/or support. This accredited Early College High School (ECHS) program is recognized by the Texas Education Agency.
Dr. Michael Simon, president of Angelina College and one of the architects behind the partnership, explains, “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 the ECHS students will be prepared for the future because of this partnership.”
One important goal of the ECHS model is to create a “college going culture” within the school setting. The program offers rigorous instruction with accelerated courses, and provides academic and social support services to assist students – therefore reducing barriers to college access. The 125 students accepted into the program met one of three criteria:
- The student expressed a desire to attend college but did not have the financial resources.
- The student wanted to be motivated and challenged with college-level course work.
- The student was willing to receive academic guidance from dedicated, collegiate instructors.
Lynn Torres, superintendent of Lufkin I.S.D., expressed her enthusiasm for the collaboration, “This partnership allows 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 also qualified 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 project is a multi-year commitment by Lufkin I.S.D. and Angelina College. In addition to the design of the course of study so the participating students will graduate with college credits, the program also includes a process for collecting, sharing, and reviewing data to access the students’ progress. Furthermore, the project will provide opportunities for ECHS teachers and higher education faculty to collaborate through planning and professional development to enhance the education process.
Wynn Rosser, president and CEO of the T.L.L. Temple Foundation, shares, “Our board of trustees couldn’t be happier about this project. It’s a tremendous win for our region.” Rosser continues, “This project will increase secondary and post-secondary educational success to help break the cycle of poverty in our region and contribute to our regional economy by sustaining a thriving skilled workforce.”
Torres concludes, “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 that knows the importance of investing in education. Our students are the true beneficiaries of the foundation’s generosity.”