By Denise Dick
Youngstown Early College, the only city school designated by the state as excellent, has received two grants to help continue its success.
The school was awarded a $23,500 grant from JP Morgan Chase and a $12,500 grant from the Youngstown Foundation.
“This is the second year we’ve received a grant from The Youngstown Foundation and the first year for the JPMorgan Chase grant,” said Principal Michele Dotson. “These funds are essential to our program, and we thank both organizations for their support and belief in the Youngstown Early College program.”
The Chase grant will be used to pay tuition for low-income students. The district covers tuition cost for its students at YEC who take courses at Youngstown State University.
The grant will help supplement that, Dotson said.
Ninth- and 10th-graders spend the school day in Fedor Hall at Youngstown State University, taking the bulk of their high-school classes during 90-minute blocks.
In their junior year, they’re out on the YSU campus taking classes alongside traditional college students. The only class they take in Fedor Hall is Spanish.
Some students earn enough credits to receive an associate degree at the same time they get their high school diploma.
The Chase grant also will help the school to continue to bolster students’ college and career readiness, providing instruction in areas such as note-taking and time management.
The grant from the Youngstown Foundation helps pay for academic coaches for students.
“They monitor attendance, help students learn how to study, establish study groups and establish relationships with the students and their professors,” Dotson said.
Since the addition of academic coaches, no YEC student has been suspended from college course work because of poor academic performance, she said.
Doug Hiscox, the city school district’s deputy superintendent for academic affairs, said the academic coaches are a critical component of the school’s success.
“It’s the person who makes the connection between the student and the university,” he said.
The coaches prepare students for what’s expected of them in a college class, the deputy superintendent said.
YEC has been designated excellent on the last three state report cards and is expected to earn that distinction when final 2011-2012 report card data is released.
Because of its success, the Youngstown Academic Distress Commission, a state panel established to develop a plan to help the school district improve academics and student achievement, has exempted YEC from the requirements of the academic recovery plan and instead “challenges the school to increase its rating to excellent with distinction,” the plan says.
About 210 students are enrolled at YEC this year.