Westwood High School and NMU to continue classroom partnership

ISHPEMING – NICE Community Schools and Northern Michigan University will continue their partnership to teach college-level classes at Westwood High School next year, as this year’s connection between the schools has proved a resounding success.

“The feedback’s been 100 percent positive, from the university, from the parents, from the students – it’s been a really great experience for everyone,” said NICE superintendent Bryan DeAugustine.

The partnership began last September with a precalculus class serving as a pilot, and was expanded in the second half of the school year to include a probability and statistics course, English 111 (a freshman composition class) and an introduction to economics. Each class is four college credits and is tuition-free, though students are responsible for their books and other supplementary materials.

Joe Lubig, associate dean and director of NMU’s School of Education, Leadership and Public Service, said the collaboration between the university and area high schools is a win-win situation.

“It’s an opportunity to build a relationship with high school students prior to them deciding to pursue post-secondary (education), and that seems pretty one-sided, but the other thing that’s happening is that college professors are gaining a better understanding of what happens in K-12,” Lubig said.

For the 2014-2015 school year, DeAugustine said precalculus, composition and Econ 101 will be taught first semester, and in addition to the second semester math class the schools plan to add English 211 and a more advanced economics class, to be determined.

“We’re still in the planning stages of what we would offer second semester in that economics arena,” DeAugustine said.

While the classes are taught on Westwood’s campus, DeAugustine said they’re open to any high school students on Marquette County’s west end who satisfy the prerequisites.

“They just happen to be housed in our building here at Westwood, but students from Negaunee High School or Ishpeming High School are more than welcome to enroll,” he said.

Lubig said the partnership is helping boost access to secondary education as well as offering the ability for high-schoolers with top academic achievement a chance to take even more advanced classes.

“It’s work, but it’s good work,” Lubig said. “The students are excited and the professors are excited and the adjuncts we have working are excited. Everybody’s winning.”