Andrew Campanella: What makes Baker Early College unique?
Dr. Daniel Huld, superintendent at Baker Early College: The whole point of the early college is if a student is ready to go to college while they’re in high school, we want to facilitate and make that happen. Our students complete all of their classes at the local community colleges and in the case of eastern Oregon, we actually have students going to Eastern Oregon University. The unique twist is that we have these amazing counselors and they meet in person with each one of their students for an hour once a term. So, in a year, a student is getting at least three or four hours of live time face-to-face with our counselors. Next year, we’ll have 360 students enrolled. Through our partner online school we have another 100 students that are doing a very similar program.
Andrew: What is the role of the advisors at Baker Early College?
Kate Scheideman, Baker Early College advisor: We’re basically the main point of contact for kids. We facilitate everything for them on the high school end. We track their graduation progress, we help them select classes that will work for high school and their future goals. We try to do three-layer advising so we’re helping them plan for high school, for their next college goal, and then any grad school beyond that. Also, just being their resource for anything related to college: helping them figure out how to sign up for SATs and ACTs, when to take those, answering questions about FAFSA and college admissions. Some of our students are first generation college students, so we help families understand what’s involved in the application process and how to navigate that. We’re like a one-stop-shop for the families because we’re their main people.
Andrew: Are there activities for students through Baker Early College or are they fully immersed on college campuses?
Kate: We have opportunities for students to get involved within the early college. It varies by region what we offer. Most of our students, as full-time community college students, really are engrossed in their community. I’ve had several students who have been in plays in the theater department or who’ve been on student council. The community college becomes their primary school, so that’s the one that they’re most involved in.
Andrew: Do you encounter challenges because of age differences between students who are in high school and students who are in college?
Daniel: We have students at 14 community colleges and one university. Some of them are very specific up front when they’re enrolling a high school student. At almost all of them, students have to meet with the college advisor. The college advisor will make sure that families know that the college class is not going to be changed at all because there’s a high school kid in it. Generally speaking, our students have been pretty successful navigating that environment. It’s maybe less than ten students a year where something comes up or the student just wasn’t ready and needs to go to a different school setting.
Andrew: How do you celebrate School Choice Week each year?
Daniel: There’s a School Choice Week rally down in Salem and we send as many students to that as we can. Last year we had one of our online students actually become a finalist in the school choice video series. We always try to wear yellow scarves as much as we can. One of our teachers out in Baker City every year does all these poses with the scarves… he puts it around his head like a bandana or a scarf, like a professor or a Ninja Turtle. It’s pretty hilarious.
Andrew Campanella is President of National School Choice Week.
"Shining a spotlight on effective educational options for every child"