Jump Start College building on student success

After a superb debut in Western Nevada College’s Jump Start College program, the Lyon County School District isn’t resting on its laurels.

Lyon County is offering more juniors access to college credit classes, providing them with the opportunity to receive a two-year Associate Degree by the time they graduate from high school.

No school district participating in WNC’s Jump Start College program was more successful in its first year than Lyon County. Students were nearly perfect in passing Jump Start College classes, with a 99.4 percent completion rate. Of the students’ 352 passing grades, 288 of them were As or Bs.

Collectively, students in the five Western Nevada school districts making up WNC’s Jump Start College passed 98.2 percent of their classes in the first year.

“I believe the support network that Jump Start College provided was absolutely key to the success of our students and schools,” said Lyon County School District Superintendent Wayne L. Workman. “Having the professors and tutors on board from the beginning was amazing. In addition, I know that as the professors developed relationships with our students, that helped them meet their individual needs. It was really fun to hear the stories about those relationships. Relationships make all the difference in the world in education.”

WNC Dean of Student Services John Kinkella said Workman and the Lyon County School District Board of Trustees have been strong leaders in the development of the Jump Start College program.

“Because of the support of dedicated Lyon County School District principals, counselors and teachers, their students can begin in their junior year to complete the requirements for an Associate of Arts degree,” Kinkella said. “This represents a whole new way of thinking about how we can work together to benefit students. It has been an absolute pleasure working with the Lyon County high schools and a real inspiration working with their students.”

Dayton, Fernley, Silver Stage, Smith Valley and Yerington encompass the high schools in Lyon County School District that participate in the program.

Parents have noticed a change in their children’s study habits and enthusiasm for learning, according to Workman.

“They tell stories about how their student has really been able to become focused on their schooling,“ Workman said. “In addition, they have students at their homes doing study groups and studying for tests or working on projects. They are grateful for the opportunity.”

For the 2015-16 school year, Workman thought it was important to get more students involved in Jump Start. Last year, 89 students were enrolled in the program, compared to 124 during the current school year.

“We believe the Jump Start program is the only way some of our students will ever attend post-secondary education,” Workman said. “We are so grateful to our school board, school administration and staff, and WNC officials for having the vision of this program. In addition, we recognize that there was a big risk in offering this to our students. However, we can now say that the risk has been well worth the reward.”

The number of students enrolled in the program only figures to rise in the next school year. LCSD has secured a College and Career Readiness grant to fund the cost of enrolling students in the Jump Start College’s track B and C programs. Track B is for juniors who don’t qualify for Track A. Students must earn a C or better in Algebra II and English testing proficiency to meet Track A requirements, or take remediation classes: English 95 and Math 95. This will allow them to access the regular Jump Start program as seniors. Track C offers seniors who choose a Career and Technical Education pathway such as construction and automotive mechanics.

“We are still in the process of ironing out the details,” Workman said. “We are very excited about expanding this opportunity to other students.”

Not only do the three tracks provide students with a head start on their college education, some costs have been covered by the school district. It paid 100 percent of students’ enrollment costs if they qualify for free or reduced price lunch status. Otherwise, the district foots 50 percent of the student’s costs.

Workman said the fruits of Jump Start will become transparent this spring, just before high school graduation ceremonies take place. “I’ll be so excited to attend a ceremony in the spring where we will have students receiving their associate degrees approximately one week before they receive their high school diplomas,” Workman said.


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