MUSCLE SHOALS — After the final school bell rings, group of Muscle Shoals and Sheffield high school students will keep going to class.
These 24 students leave behind the high school classroom for the math lab at Northwest-Shoals Community College. They are part of a pilot program sponsored by Northwest-Shoals that teaches an algebra class to high school students, giving them a jump-start on college.
“They are doing the exact same course work as our Northwest-Shoals students,” said Crystle Ingle, learning specialist at Northwest-Shoals.
Muscle Shoals senior Erin Pace said the course has given her confidence in a subject she admittedly didn’t enjoy.
“I’m not going to say I loved it,” Pace said. “But now I have confidence I can do it.”
Pace is set to complete the course and will earn credit through Northwest-Shoals once she does. Muscle Shoals High is also granting one-half credit to those students who successfully complete the class.
Students meet for 90 minutes each Wednesday and have access to the math lab at Northwest-Shoals for homework and review work at other times.
“This may be the only math I need to take for my dental hygiene program,” Pace said. “This format is going to help me get this finished.”
The pilot program is a computer-based math teaching system that allows students to work at their own pace, reviewing areas about which they have questions and whizzing through the problems they understand.
“We know automatically if we missed a problem, so we can go back and work it again,” Pace said. “That’s better than waiting three days to get work back and only finding out the day before a test that we don’t understand it.”
The aim is to get the students ready for college courses and the college atmosphere. That’s why Ingle was adamant about teaching the course outside of the high school environment, on the Northwest-Shoals campus.
“Especially at the community college level, all of our students aren’t going to be the same age,” Ingle said. “We have a large number of non-traditional students.”
Shane Little, a senior at Sheffield High School, sees the benefit in taking the class.
“Getting the work done is up to us,” Little said. “We have a teacher and an aid, but really it is our responsibility to make sure we are doing what we are supposed to do.”
Ingle said to fund the pilot program she was able to broker a deal with the curriculum’s book company to provide free access codes for the 24 students and has support from the college’s president, Humphrey Lee, for the teacher and aids for the class, but she’s still working on funding to continue the program.
“We had more than these 24 interested in the class this time, so there is definitely a need,” Ingle said. “The problem is finding the funds to keep it going. It is a great tool to get high school students ready for college.”
Jennifer Edwards can be reached at 256-740-5754 or jennifer.edwards@TimesDaily.com
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