NPC brings college classes into local high schools
by Everett Robinson
Distance learning technology is opening the doors to NPC higher education opportunities for students at 10 area high schools. It’s funded through a U.S. Department of Education grant awarded to Northland Pioneer College.
Utilizing technology-connected classrooms, NPC faculty members provide dual enrollment instruction to high school juniors and seniors in college-level general education courses, such as College Composition I & II, Elementary Spanish I & II, Advanced Algebra and Pre-Calculus Algebra/Trigonometry. Students earn both high school and college credit for these NPC classes, which are guaranteed to transfer to other state community colleges and universities.
Instructors of university transfer college-level general education courses must have at least a master’s degree in the subject, plus additional graduate credits. “Many high school districts have difficulty hiring qualified instructors for dual enrollment courses, limiting the opportunities for their students, especially at rural schools,” says Mark Vest, NPC vice president for Learning and Student Services. “Students also have access to NPC support services, such as academic advising and counseling for college, career and financial planning and tutoring, through distance technology,” Vest notes.
Project TALON (Technology to Advance Learning Outcomes at Northland) is initially bringing dual enrollment courses during the normal school day to students at Shonto Prep, Hopi, Red Mesa, Mogollon, Winslow, Joseph City, Holbrook, Snowflake, Blue Ridge and St. Johns. NPC plans to utilize the connected classrooms to offer adult basic education and GED® preparation courses in remote areas on weekday evenings.
“We believe this will be an excellent opportunity for students to access transferrable college courses who might not normally be able to attend college classes,” says Becky Caballero, a counselor at St. Johns High School. “Many of our students in Apache County live too far from NPC centers to take evening classes, so more onsite, daytime course offerings expand the options for students.”
“Project TALON enriches our course offerings by increasing postsecondary dual enrollment opportunities for our upperclassmen. The distance learning medium also facilitates a unique 21st century educational platform that adds diversity to instructional delivery at Holbrook High School (HHS),” says Principal Lance Phaturos.
“For all students involved in TALON classes, the hope is they find success in college courses and, in turn, increase confidence in their own post-secondary educational possibilities,” adds Caballero.
HHS mathematics students are liking the classes. “They give me an outlook on how college is different from high school,” says Amber Notah. Ethan Lester agrees saying, “I feel after this class I will be able to go through college with ease.”
The high-resolution cameras and video monitors, plus the built-in teaching tools, provide an enhanced learning environment for students. Mathematics instructor Shannon Newman uses her finger to write a formula on a touch screen, then utilizes a graphing calculator to almost instantly display the formula’s graph, in various colors, for students in the connected classrooms. “This is a vast improvement in NPC’s distance learning technology and is wonderful for the students,” adds Newman.
“In the broader picture, Project TALON also serves as another wonderful example of how NPC and area high schools forge creative partnerships and valuable relationships and increase the academic maturity of secondary education,” continues Phaturos.
Project TALON is a five-year Title III, Part A Native American Serving Non-Tribal Institution grant. Funds are available to add six more high schools to the network by 2020.