A group of 75 ninth-graders from Nottingham High School’s Early College High School program will visit the Syracuse University campus on Oct. 12 to motivate and prepare them for the opportunities associated with higher education. While on campus, the students will hear from faculty and staff who specialize in supporting first-generation college students while they achieve their academic goals. The group will also tour the campus buildings and grounds and participate in team-building activities in the Carrier Dome.
The Nottingham Early College High School is a partnership with the Syracuse City School District (SCSD), SU’s School of Education, Say Yes to Education and the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, which seeks to improve high school and college graduation rates and better prepare students for college by reinforcing positive core academic and personal behaviors; offering college preparatory courses; linking rigorous instruction with intensive support; meeting the learning needs of all students; and removing financial and other barriers. In 2009, a team of current and retired SCSD and Nottingham teachers, SU tutors, Early College staff, doctoral students and School of Education faculty piloted the Nottingham Early College High School program model with a representative group of 85 students and their families by providing academic and social and emotional supports including the following:
- three-week Summer Writing Institute for rising ninth-graders led by SU School of Education and Nottingham English Language Arts (ELA) faculty;
- yearlong professional development for Nottingham ELA faculty;
- home visits by SU and Nottingham faculty to Nottingham students’ homes;
- structured time for in-school study and support led by 30 SU tutors and retired SCSD teachers;
- Saturday study festivals and regents review sessions; and
- College Day at Syracuse University.
In the 2010-2011 school year, the 85 ninth grade students involved in the Early College High School achieved a higher cumulative average on the June 2011 New York State Regents than their Nottingham peers; most received a grade of 82 percent or higher.
As of May 2010, Nottingham High School, currently identified as a PLA (persistently low achieving) school, has reorganized its student population of 1,200 into three equally balanced learning academies, in an effort to bolster more concentrated, individualized academics and co-curricular learning. “Academy A,” with a population of approximately 450 ninth-12th grade students, will be an expansion of the existing Early College High School model and will operate under its guiding principles, with the School of Education and partners facilitating the additional academic and social/emotional supports to the population of students and their families.
Don C. Sawyer III, director of the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program at SU, will be addressing the Early College High School students when they visit SU about his experience as a first-generation college graduate and how he has dedicated his professional life to supporting others in realizing their potential in academics. “The idea of college seemed distant. There were schools very close to my Harlem neighborhood, but I never visited and didn’t know what college was about,” Sawyer says. “It wasn’t until I visited a campus, sat in the desks, walked down the academic halls, and met people who made it to college from similar backgrounds as my own that I realized that college was a place that was in my reach.”