[Source: Ray Parker, Arizona Republic] — Eighteen-year-old Jasmin Peterson can see herself becoming a doctor, she just can’t see achieving her goal in a traditional high school. Her friend told her about a new program called Chandler Early College. The high school students, mostly from Chandler Unified School District, spend each weekday inside two portable classrooms on the edge of the Chandler-Gilbert Community College campus. High school classes now go according to Jasmin’s pace, taking her independent study courses under the supervision of a “tracking” teacher. “This is at my own speed. If I can do it faster, I can finish the course faster,” she said.
The senior also takes three regular college courses: English 101, physical education and one on study strategies. Jasmin finishes each weekday by 12:15 p.m., giving her time to get ready for her job as an emergency room attendant, which she has done the past three years, most recently at Mercy Gilbert Medical Center.
Jasmin is one of 35 students enrolled this semester in Chandler Early College. Chandler officials want to find more self-motivated students, which can come from any district, for the nontraditional high school setting, said Jeff Cowger, program coordinator. Students must attend at least five hours a day, either in the morning or afternoon. Cowger and three teachers run the program from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays, and also 7 a.m.-noon Saturday. Students meet each week with a tracking teacher to go over goals.
This school year, Chandler Unified officials changed their alternative high school, known as San Tan Academy, into the non-traditional high school, emphasizing more academics. Cowger said of the 35 students enrolled the first semester that ended in December at Chandler Early College, 28 were taking college classes with 80 percent passing them. The biggest difference in the new program, he said, has been students taking more academic college courses, such as math and science. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]