DISD Hopes to ‘break the Cycle of Poverty' With Early College Academies at Nearly Every High School

De’Ajanae Moore wants a career in computer science.The fact that her neighborhood high school - South Oak Cliff’s collegiate academy - is partnered with technology giant Microsoft was one of the reasons the freshman chose to enroll.“I could work for Microsoft at 16, with an internship, and learn what I need to know,” Moore said. “And then, I’ve already got my foot in the door for a job.”That excitement is exactly what Dallas ISD hopes to incubate across the district, with expansion of its early college high school programs. On Wednesday at a gala at the City Performance Hall, DISD unveiled corporate partners for its next round of collegiate academies, pairing 19 businesses with 10 new programs launching for the 2017-18 school year.The district’s early college high schools allow students to graduate with a high school diploma and either an Associate’s Degree or 60 hours of college credit from the Dallas County Community College District, at no cost to the student.The bottom line, said DISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa, is access to high-paying jobs.“Getting a great education can break the cycle of poverty, if you’ve got a great job,” he said.There’s strong evidence that those who participate in early college programs are significantly more likely to enroll in college and attain a degree, particularly among minority and low-income students.Hinojosa called the businesses unveiled at the event - which included Amazon Web Services, American Airlines, Baylor Scott & White, Southwest Airlines and Texas Instruments - a “Who’s Who” of Dallas-area companies.“By getting access to these partners when they are freshmen in high school, it helps teach them ... how to navigate what the expectations are,” Hinojosa said. “In the world of work, there’s a lot of accountability - being on time, how do you dress, how do you behave. They’ll start learning that right now.”For the eight early college programs that opened this school year, such as S.O.C., the first semester has been a learning experience for both students and staff, getting used to accelerated timelines and busy schedules.“When they enter in the doors of the classroom, they now understand that we definitely have somewhere where we need to be,” said Lakendra Simon, S.O.C. academy’s workplace learning coordinator.Academy staff constantly reiterate to students that they have two years to lay the groundwork, before they’ll be pushed full-time onto a college campus with adults, Simon said.“With that in mind, every day is a day of preparation for them...” she said. “I tell my students all the time, you can be average or you can be great. You can be a flip-flop, or you can be a Louis Vuitton pump. That helps them to relate to where they want to go in life.”The district’s expansion efforts have been rapid. By the start of the 2017-18 school year, all but two of the district’s traditional high schools will have a collegiate academy on its campus, growing from three stand-alone academies and two school-within-a-school models in 2015.At that point, one of five DISD freshmen will be in an early college program. During DISD’s recent application process, over 4,800 incoming freshmen applied for 2,700 spots in the early college academies.DISD’s ‎Chief of Strategic Initiatives and External Relations Israel Cordero -- responsible for spearheading the district’s efforts alongside Brookhaven College president Thom Chesney -- said getting each program off the ground and paired with business partners was just the first step, albeit a large one.“Now there’s a different level of work that takes place - and that’s to ensure that the experiences that the high school, the college and the industry partners bring to the students are very meaningful and very thoughtful,” Cordero said.Cordero said he wants the relationship between students and corporate partners to “build out” over four years of high school, including mentoring, worksite visits, internships, and possibly job offers.At South Oak Cliff, Microsoft invited the 100-plus students at S.O.C.’s collegiate academy to their retail location at NorthPark Center at the start of the school year, giving students some basic programming skills as well as a technical rundown of its new interactive whiteboard and network gaming platform.Ashley Taylor, a community development specialist with Microsoft, said that as the relationship develops, students will learn more computer coding, as well as possibly getting Microsoft certification on its Office suite of programs.“We host a lot of different schools over the year, but we kind of feel like the South Oak Cliff academy kids are our kids,” Taylor said.Partners for Dallas ISD's Early College AcademiesBryan Adams Collegiate Academy· Pathway: Early Childhood Education· Industry Partner: Dallas ISD· Higher Education Partner: Eastfield CollegeW.H. Adamson Collegiate Academy· Pathways: Internet Development Technologies; Personal Computer Support· Industry Partner: American Airlines· Higher Education Partner: El Centro CollegeHillcrest Collegiate Academy· Pathways: Pre-Electrical Engineering; Electrical Engineering Technology· Industry Partners: Jones Lang LaSalle Americas, Inc.; Texas Instruments; Cummings Electrical· Higher Education Partner: Richland CollegeJustin F. Kimball Collegiate Academy· Pathways: Electronics Technology with Advanced Manufacturing Mechatronics; Pre-Mechanical Engineering· Industry Partner: Jones Lang LaSalle Americas, Inc.· Higher Education Partner: Mountain View CollegeLincoln Collegiate Academy· Pathways: Hospitality Management; Logistics· Industry Partner: Omni Hotels & Resorts; FedEx· Higher Education Partner: El Centro College; University of North Texas - DallasMoises Molina Collegiate Academy· Pathways: Business Administration; Business· Industry Partner: BKD· Higher Education Partner: Mountain View CollegeNorth Dallas Collegiate Academy· Pathways: Software Programming; Health Information Technology· Industry Partners: Southwest Airlines; Thomson Reuters; Bottle Rocket; Legend Networking; MD Medical Group· Higher Education Partner: Brookhaven CollegeSunset Collegiate Academy· Pathway: Early Childhood Education; Public Health· Industry Partner: Children's Health; Dallas ISD: Baylor Scott & White· Higher Education Partners: Mountain View College; University of North Texas - DallasWilmer-Hutchins Collegiate Academy· Pathways: Construction Technology; Energy Management· Industry Partners: TEXO, The Construction Association; Oncor; Fluor· Higher Education Partner: North Lake CollegeW.T. White Collegiate Academy· Pathway: Accounting; Early Childhood Education· Industry Partner: Dallas ISD; Moss Adams· Higher Education Partner: Brookhaven CollegeAdditionally, Dallas ISD and DCCCD announced new industry partners for four academies that opened this school year:David W. Carter Collegiate Academy· New Industry Partner: Dallas Fire & RescueEmmett J. Conrad Global Collegiate Academy· New Industry Partners: Magnin and Associates; X Cube; GameStopSeagoville P-TECH at Eastfield College· New Industry Partner: NFTEJames Madison Collegiate Academy· New Industry Partner: Amazon Web; Dallas ISD IT Department  Continue reading...

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