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Landmark Dual Enrollment Program Opens Doors of College to High School Students

by Solvegi Shmulsky

Excited, proud, and eager to start a fresh opportunity for area youth, over a dozen officials from Landmark College and Windham Southeast Supervisory Union (WSESU) met on June 4th, 2013 to sign a dual enrollment agreement between the two institutions.  Superintendent Ron Stahley of WSESU, Brattleboro Union High School Principal Steve Perrin, and Dr. Peter Eden, Landmark College President, sealed the agreement during a gathering hosted at the College. This historic collaboration gives local high school students from Southern Vermont and neighboring New Hampshire access to courses on the Landmark College campus in nearby Putney, Vermont. 

Dr. Eden and Ron Stahley shake hands after signing agreementDual enrollment programs allow high school juniors and seniors to fulfill their graduation requirements by taking affordable courses at local post-secondary institutions—which also gives them a head start earning credits toward a college degree.  By creating a connection between high school and college, dual enrollment initiatives promise to improve outcomes for students in the U.S.—an idea that underpins the Obama Administration’s plan to “redesign America’s high schools."

Why should high school students take college courses?  “Students need to understand what college is like, ideally before they get to college,” said President Eden, “Professors and administrators need to understand what the next generation of students is like—so they can provide the best possible education.” 

Governor Peter Shumlin, a founding member of the Landmark College Board of Trustees, has identified initiatives such as this as essential building blocks in a cohesive, integrated system of education. “Thanks to the good work and collaboration between Landmark College and the Windham Regional Collegiate High School, the education initiatives passed this year expanded your model so all Vermont students will now have the opportunity to access dual enrollment and other valuable learning experiences,” said Governor Shumlin in a letter to the College.  

Starting college is a big challenge because students must manage their time, academic workload, social life—and even laundry—independently for the first time.  Smoothing the transition to college by introducing students early and reducing college costs are key benefits of dual enrollment courses, which are intended to spark motivation among high school students to pursue a college degree. “I’m the first person in my family to go to college,” said John, a high school senior, “I’m proud to say that I’ll be graduating with 15 college credits, which I earned through the Business Program.  I’m glad I took the initiative and enrolled in dual enrollment business courses.”  Through this fast-growing program in Windham County, students like John have the opportunity to take credit-bearing courses in business, STEM, health and human services, and liberal arts from regional post-secondary institutions. 

Chris Arieta and Diane Heileman share thoughts on Dual Enrollment ProgramWith a unique niche as the “college of choice” for individuals with learning differences, Landmark College will offer the “Perspectives in Learning,” a course designed to teach students with dyslexia, ADHD, and how to maximize their learning.  “This course will be user-friendly,” said Christine Arieta, Director of First Year Programming at Landmark College, “It’s a great way for students to explore college without the pressure of a full-time course load.  They can hone their academic skills and strategies in an environment that teaches to their learning styles.”

Dual Enrollment Program began about five years ago in this region.  “Our mission statement is to encourage students to take college classes, especially those particular students who wouldn’t ordinarily see college as an opportunity” shared Diane Heileman, Dual Enrollment Coordinator at the Windham Regional Career Center.  “As we’ve grown the programs and broadened them, this seems like the perfect opportunity to increase our student base while achieving college credits.”

Both institutions will reap benefits from this pro-education effort.  Local high school students will develop self-knowledge, critical thinking, and effective study strategies in a supportive setting intended to foster growth and demystify college.  Landmark College will gain valuable insight on “what works” with the next generation of college students. “Students who are college-capable and have a learning difference can really benefit from understanding that, while rare, there are post-secondary teaching and learning environments that are engineered to work best with their learning styles,” said President Eden, “Landmark College is one such model, and we are eager to see how high school students in the region think, learn, succeed in our curriculum—so that we may continually improve what we offer.”                                                         (Photos by George Ruhe)

Landmark College was the first institution of higher learning to pioneer college-level studies for students with dyslexia. Today Landmark College, offering two and four-year degree options, and summer programs for high school students and students visiting from other colleges, is a global leader in integrated teaching methods for students with learning disabilities, ADHD, and ASD. Students, faculty, and other professionals from all over the world are drawn to Landmark College for its innovative educational model, one designed through research and practice to help all students who learn differently become confident, self-empowered, and independently successful learners.

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