By Emmanuel Freeman
NASHVILLE, TN (TSU News Service) — High school students looking to get an early start on college now have a home at Tennessee State University.
Through its National Center for Smart Technology, the university has launched a dual enrollment program with three major school districts in the state that offers high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to earn college credits while enrolled in high school.
Participating school districts are Clarksville Montgomery County School System, Metro Nashville Public Schools, and Shelby County Schools.
Jalen Driskell and Larry Perry, 12th graders from Shelby County’s Trezevant High School in Memphis, are excited about the opportunity to earn early college credits. The two were among 130 students also from Pearl Cohn High, and Clarksville’s Kenwood High School, who participated in the Apple Coding class last fall as part of the dual enrollment program.
“I learned a lot from the initiative, especially working as a team,” said Driskell, who hopes to major in engineering after high school. “Being enrolled allows me to move ahead in receiving my college credits and to do better with time management.”
For Perry, he said the coding class was a lot of fun and increased his interest in doing more college work.
“Coding allowed me to gain the experience with talking to others versus typing,” he said. “Receiving this college credit allows me to be prepared for my future.”
Dr. Robbie Melton, TSU’s associate vice president for Smart Technology and Innovation, said with the Apple partnership, TSU has created an amazing opportunity for high school students to start coding and creating.
“All over the state, as well as all over the country, students are interested in coding and creativity,” said Melton. “With this dual enrollment program, it is unique in the fact that students across the state of Tennessee can now embrace the skills of coding and creativity through dual enrollment. We are positioned to provide coding and creativity on site and online, for high school students to have a pathway to our computer science and “Everyone Can Code and Create” curriculums at TSU.”
Dr. Johnnie C. Smith is the executive director of the TSU Dual Enrollment Partnerships. She said students who participate in the program must meet the TSU admission’s requirement. They must be beginning juniors with a GPA of 2.75 or better, and must have recommendations from their principals or guidance counselors to participate. In addition to the Apple coding curriculum, she said the program offers general education courses, as well as engineering and English composition. The courses are offered onsite and online.
“Like all other schools in the state, we are going after courses we know will count in different schools, like general education courses,” Smith said. “We are targeting students within the state of Tennessee. They will gain college credits to get a jump start on college and also use those credits to meet their high school requirements for graduation. We are really excited about the possibility of what this program can do at the institution.”
Some of the teachers whose students participated in the fall 2019 program said it was very beneficial and definitely makes the whole dual enrollment initiative more interesting.
“This program benefited our students by giving them the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of coding and inspired them to create something unique for a problem in their community,” said Abraham Wolfe, a high school AP Physics and Robotics teacher in the Clarksville Montgomery County School System.
Quanita Adams, a high school math teacher with Metro Nashville Public Schools, said, “The students enrolled in DE Coding this semester have tapped into a world that they may have not experienced elsewhere and produced amazing products in a short time.”
Herbert Vannostrand, a high school computer science teacher with the Shelby County Schools, agreed.
“The Apple Coding curriculum provided my students with a clear, concise, up-to-date and fun program to learn the Swift programming language, as well as bringing relevant up-to-date information about how coding can affect change in their lives,” Vannostrand said. “I recommend this program to any computer science teacher and I am ready to teach the course again next year.”
Dual enrollment is just one of many initiatives undertaken in the last year under the TSU-Apple partnership. In July, TSU launched HBCU C2 “Everyone Can Code and Create,” a national initiative supported by Apple, which seeks to bring coding experiences to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and underserved communities. To date, TSU has impacted 32 HBCUs with the HBCU C2 Initiative. Also, in July, TSU launched the first community “Everyone Can Code and Create” initiative for youth on its Avon Williams Campus. The initiative is also part of the National Center for Smart Technology Innovations.