Temple College trustees were given an update on work taking place that relates to the Student Wellness Initiative, which addresses issues that challenge TC students.
A second group of faculty and staff from Temple College attended the Amarillo College No Excuses Poverty Initiative Summit in May and returned with a focus on developing a Completion-Centered Culture.
“There has been a lot of discussion about eliminating barriers for students,” Jennifer Graham, executive director of Temple College Foundation, said.
There is now an understanding that removing barriers from a person’s life is more than TC can take on, but it can assist in jumping those barriers.
Within TC’s Circle of Support, the college is looking at its policies and making sure the professional development opportunities are available that will help prepare faculty, and providing access to the resources needed by students.
When looking at changing courses to eight weeks instead of semester-long classes, some planning is required, Graham said.
You can’t just decide to turn a class into an eight-week class without redesigning it and preparing instructors for the change, she said.
Nonacademic issues include food and housing insecurity, transportation, child care and social services.
Brent Colwell has selected high school students from Belton and Temple high schools to serve as secret shoppers. These students will go through the process of registering, advising and other tasks that are typical for the new student. They will then report back to what the experience was like, both good and bad.
“This not a gotcha moment, but a way to view the process through students’ eyes,” Colwell said.
The project’s ideas for supporting students in their housing and food needs range from eventually starting a tiny house development to raising vegetables to supplementing food pantry items.
Child care has proven to be an issue at TC campuses and transportation problems continue for students without vehicles.
The Circle of Success work groups will continue to meet through the summer.
Ron Roth, principal of Legacy Early College High School in Taylor, recently gave Temple College trustees an update on the Taylor Legacy High School.
The Taylor Legacy program is part of Temple College East Williamson County Higher Education Center.
“Early college high schools are designed for students who are the least likely to attend college,” Roth said.
Much of Taylor’s populations falls into the category and Roth said he is in that population constantly, recruiting and interacting.
Up until a week ago, Roth was also principal of the alternative school, which also put him in contact with a population where higher education was less likely to be considered.
“Those guys are my people and I enjoy talking to them and that’s who I’m recruiting,” Roth said. “I want them to go to school with me.”
The purpose of a program like Legacy is to reduce barriers, he said.
Programs like Legacy work, Roth said. Studies have shown that programs like early college high schools are doing what they are designed to do.
Kids are getting in to school they are finishing their college classes and are graduating from high school and are going on to four-year colleges and universities, he said.
The program is an amazing opportunity including not having college debt.
There is a misconception that the program is only for students who get good grades and are well behaved.
“Everybody is welcome,” Roth said.
The completion rate is not 100 percent, but is in the high 90s, he said. This year, 96 percent of kids who graduated from Legacy High School left high school with an associate’s degree.
Seventy-two percent of the graduates this year are going on to a four-year college. Three students are going into the military and because they are entering with an associate’s degree they’ll start at a higher rank, Roth said.
“They can really get a jump start on their career,” he said.
The state has changed the emphasis on early college programs, focusing more on at-risk students.
Nine of the 51 students who took Temple College classes will be going to the University of Texas at Austin.
“Any other high school the size of ours at 200 might have one or two getting into University of Texas,” Roth said. “We have one young lady who was accepted into the McCombs School of Business.”
These students are working hard and succeeding, he said.