ISHPEMING - Students at Westwood High School will have an opportunity to finish the school year with as many as 16 college credits, thanks to a partnership between NICE Community Schools and Northern Michigan University.
The program started in September with one class - Math 115, precalculus - serving as a pilot.
"We used that as kind of a test course to see how it would go over with students and parents," said Bryan DeAugustine, superintendent of NICE.
Steve Annelin, an adjunct instructor from Northern Michigan University, teaches precalculus to students at Westwood High School Wednesday. (NICE Community Schools photo)
DeAugustine said the response to the initial class has been overwhelmingly positive.
As a result, NMU and Westwood are expanding the program next semester to include English 111 (a freshman composition class) and Economics 101 (an introduction to economics). Also available next semester to those currently taking the precalculus course will be Math 171, an introduction to probability and statistics. All of the courses are four credits each.
DeAugustine said he doesn't know of any other program like this.
"From what I understand this is pretty groundbreaking on our behalf and on behalf of Northern" that students can earn college credit on their high school campus, he said, when it's much more common for a high school to offer a dual enrollment program - where students travel to Northern's campus for classes - or for students to take online courses offered by the university.
"This face to face experience is pretty unique," he said.
DeAugustine said it's a great program for any student who's considering college and is interested in earning college credit early in order to save themselves money down the road. The courses at Westwood are free, he said, though "students are responsible for buying books and any supplemental materials."
Northern pays for the adjunct instructors - Steven Annelin, who teaches the math course, and B.G. Bradley, a Westwood English teacher who will also head up the Northern course - as well as for economics professor Tawni Ferrarini, who will teach the economics course.
"I like to thank Northern," DeAugustine said, "because this has a lot to do with them agreeing to do this at our campus."
He said that going forward they might consider bringing a college-level science class to Westwood's campus, but as of right now it remains a concept to continue to explore, due to potential difficulties of college-level laboratory work on the high school's campus.
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