'Springing' into Dual-Credit Classes
Spring has sprung and so have the peaks of dual-credit classes being taught at Harvard. Thirteen high school students are currently enrolled in a dual-credit class for the spring semester. Most of these classes are taken through Central Community College and a couple are through Wayne State College.
Dual-credit classes are college classes that high school students can take to earn some college credits. CCC calls this “Early College.” Students have the option at the end of their sophomore year to enroll in dual-credit classes. Harvard Public Schools pays for the classes as long as the student passes.
“I am taking a dual credit class to start doing things that will be like what you actually do at college. I'm going to Northeast Community College in Norfolk for nursing, and these classes will help me a lot,” said senior Kylee Strobl.
The largest dual-credit class at Harvard is Biology 1010 through CCC, which currently has an enrollment of 10 students. Science teacher Mrs. Jodi Bahr teaches this class during 6th period. The classwork is entirely online, but each student was provided with a loose-leaf textbook. The textbook for the class is also available online.
The coursework for BIO 1010 is on a website called Canvas, a new program to HPS as of this year. Teachers have been using Canvas in their classes to prepare for the possibility of school closing due to coronavirus. CCC offers many of its dual-credit courses through Canvas, so many students are familiar with the online interface.
In order for a high school teacher to teach a dual-credit class, they have to have taken certain classes and achieved certain grades in those classes.
“The process of teaching the dual-credit classes is not easy. I have to give all of my transcripts to CCC and then they review my transcripts. If I'm not meeting the credits, they tell me which classes I need to take,” said Bahr. “I teach dual-credit classes because I want to give the students an opportunity to learn how to take a college class with the help of a high school teacher.”
The other in-person dual-credit courses offered are mathematics classes through Wayne State. Principal Neil Riley teaches both of the classes. He instructs Trigonometry and Calculus during 2nd and 3rd period, respectively. Riley only teaches these two classes during the entire school year. Two students are taking Trigonometry and two are taking Calculus.
“[Dual-credit classes] prepare you for college. They are very beneficial to help challenge yourself in high school and see how far you'll go,” said senior Ashley Nierman, who is currently taking Calculus and who took Trigonometry last year.
The dual-credit math coursework is not online or self-guided, but Riley’s students have been turning in assignments on Canvas to prepare for any possible school closings. Trigonometry and Calculus students scan their homework with their phones and upload the files to Canvas every day.
“Even though it was more work for me to earn the credentials to teach these courses, I believe it provides important opportunities for students. It allows students to complete their college math requirements while still in high school unless they decide to go into mathematics or a related field in college. While these courses are taught at the college level additional support is available,” said Riley.
Back in the online world of Canvas, seven students participate in a public speaking class through CCC. This class isn’t taught by a Harvard teacher and is entirely online. Students communicate with their professor and other students in the class through Canvas. Students in the public speaking class record their speeches and upload them to YouTube. They then post the YouTube link on Canvas.
“It’s all online and you don't actually have to go in front of people and speak. If I were to take it in college, I would have to give my speeches in front of a lot of people. I don't really like that,” said senior Makenz Smith, who is taking both Biology and Public Speaking through CCC.
Senior Aspen Binder has started her college journey early by taking four different construction classes at CCC in Hastings. Binder leaves school halfway through the day and heads to the Hastings campus for her construction classes. She plans to get her associate’s degree in construction management within the next year.
Binder explained, “I talked with Mr. Riley and my instructor and we decided—because of how many credits I'm taking—that I will just leave the school halfway through the day to go to college.”
If a student is interested in taking a dual-credit class, they can talk with Guidance Counselor Michaela Bourn to get more information and assistance with enrollment.
Bourn said, “There are several different ways to take dual-credit classes. Students can take dual-credit classes with teachers that they know. Students can also take online classes from any of the colleges without ever leaving the building. We have had students take classes on the Central Community College Campus in Hastings, as well. You can see the duplex that one of our students has been building with her construction class behind the Freddy's fast food restaurant in Hastings. I am excited to see students taking advantage of these opportunities and I hope to see more students taking dual-credit classes in the future.”