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​School Spotlight: Putnam County High’s fast-growing dual-enrollment offerings

At Putnam County High School, and in high schools all over Georgia, dual enrollment programs are giving students a head start on the future.

 

At PCHS, persistence, partnerships, and communication have fueled swift growth of the program. Three years ago, 20 students participated; this year, that number is up to 150 – that’s approximately 23 percent of PCHS students. Students are taking nearly 30 courses on the high school’s campus, along with a handful of distance-education offerings. More than 97 percent of them are earning credit in those courses.

 

As a result, administrators and partners with Central Georgia Technical College say, students are reaping benefits that go beyond the obvious – graduating with credentials or credit. Students who may not have considered further education are getting a taste of college coursework and realizing they’re more capable than they thought. Those who may have struggled to finance an associate’s degree are eliminating much of the cost. Others are getting core courses out of the way so they can focus, once enrolled in college, on their majors.

 

That’s part of the draw for Keyairah Moore, an 11th-grade student at Putnam County High who’s currently enrolled in English 2130 and an Introduction to Healthcare course. So, too, is the ability to gain practical experience ahead of high-school graduation.

 

“I know that I definitely want to go into the healthcare field,” Moore says. “Actually having firsthand experience, now, with healthcare, is only increasing my chances.”

Moore’s story isn’t uncommon, says Barry Lollis, Putnam County High’s principal.

 

“About a week ago, we had a grandmother of a graduate from last year call and just tell me that she wanted to thank me because her grandson called her and let her know that, after his first semester in college, he would be a sophomore,” Lollis says. “That’s not the first time that parents have gotten the word back to us…the students, in the building, while they’re here, they’re talking about it.”

 

Several strategies have led to definitive growth within the program, administrators and other partners say. Here’s a look at a few of them.

 

A shared vision between partners: PCHS has a strong relationship with Central Georgia Technical College, which offers up employees to teach courses on the high-school campus. “It starts with a foundation of shared vision and committed leadership,” says Amy Holloway, vice president for academic affairs at Central Georgia Tech. “You have to have that to start…that shared commitment and that vision and keeping at the forefront what’s best for the students really is key.”

 

Educating parents and students: Regular efforts to keep parents and students informed, from published materials to information sessions, have fueled dual enrollment’s growth at Putnam County High, Lollis says. The school makes sure to educate students and parents on the tangible benefits of the program, from gaining workforce certifications to saving money on tuition.

 

Shared faculty: Instructors are employed by Central Georgia Technical College and credentialed as college-level instructors, but they teach full-time within the Putnam County School District. This, Lollis says, “would help any school” looking to grow their dual-enrollment program. 

 

High expectations: Students are capable of higher-level coursework when it’s presented to them, says Joanna Grisham, who teaches dual-enrollment English courses at Putnam County High School. “The students that I’ve taught here rival any students that I’ve taught on a typical college campus, in intellect and motivation and ability,” Grisham says. And students from all backgrounds are capable of achieving at those high levels, Lollis says, noting that more than 75 percent of his school’s population is economically disadvantaged.

 

Ultimately, it’s the students’ voices that can help measure the impact of a strong dual-enrollment program. Take it from Charlie Farmer, a tenth-grade student at Putnam County High:

“I just want to thank Putnam County Schools,” Charlie says. “They basically wrote us a blank check that we can use for our education.”​ 

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