Methodist Children’s Home (MCH) charter school students can earn college credits and professional licenses and certificates thanks to partnerships with local educational institutions.
The charter school is located on the Waco campus of MCH and is operated in partnership with The University of Texas-University Charter School system. Youth from the Waco campus and MCH Boys Ranch attend the school as well as a limited number of students from the community through the Day Student program.
A new dual-credit program through The University of Texas called OnRamp is being piloted this year at the MCH charter school. Six juniors are taking a U.S. History course taught by teacher Preston Powell to simultaneously earn high school and college credit. In the upper level course, students complete college-level reading and assignments and are given homework every night. The purpose of the program is to better prepare students for postsecondary success.
MCH also offers dual-credit opportunities through McLennan Community College’s High School Pathways program. Students enroll in college-level courses while still attending high school, allowing them to get a head start earning credits toward a college degree.
Through a partnership with Waco Independent School District, eligible MCH students may enroll in career-focused programs to earn professional licenses and certificates. The Greater Waco Advanced Manufacturing Academy (GWAMA) offers technical and manufacturing training in four areas: welding, construction, electronics and robotics, and architecture. Students interested in healthcare professions may attend the Greater Waco Advanced Health Care Academy (GWAHCA) to earn licenses such as a certified nursing assistant, EKG technician, or a certified pharmacy technician.
Students with good grades, positive behavior and strong work ethic are eligible for the advanced academic programs. MCH charter school staff communicate with qualifying students who they feel would be a good fit for the programs. Dorothy Phillips, director of educational services at MCH, said the advanced programs benefit students by increasing their academic performance and attitudes toward learning. She said it also encourages self-paced and self-directed learning which improve work and study habits.
“I think it is great that our charter school provides enriching opportunities for our students’ future success,” Phillips said. “The response from students is overwhelmingly positive because it gives them a sense of achievement. It helps them learn responsibility, be more prepared for other opportunities and expectations in life, and build their self-esteem.”
Phillips assisted Tianna, a senior at the charter school, with enrolling for dual-credit courses at McLennan Community College this fall. Tianna said she originally didn’t think she would be able to handle college but, after some encouragement, decided to enroll and discovered she enjoys the experience.
“It helped me to see what college is really like,” Tianna said. “I like taking classes there. Being the only high school student in my classes makes me feel better about myself, like I am doing something good for my future.”