Education, Latest News

Mon Schools to partner with Pierpont on dual-degree offering

Traditionally, more than half of Monongalia County’s high school seniors go on to college after graduation.

In a place on the map where a low college-going rate is also a tradition, that’s a given — in that Mon boasts one of the higher-performing public districts in West Virginia, while housing the state’s flagship university within its attendance area.

As said, though, there are just as many Mon students who don’t go on to college, for any number of reasons.

If academic intimidation or worries over student debt are among them, Mon Schools is about to smooth the pathway, with the help of Pierpont Community and Technical College.

The local district has entered a partnership with the Fairmont school to offer dual-degree programs for future Mon high school graduates

That means a senior could walk across the stage to be handed a high school diploma — and a college diploma — at the same time.

Pierpont officials talked to Board of Education members during their regular meeting Tuesday night. The offering is a for a two-year associate degree, at a cost of $25 per course credit.

“This isn’t just a handful of college courses,” said Joni Gray, who handles transitional education efforts for the school.

“This is a clear, complete pathway to a degree, conferred,” she said.

Mon Schools Superintendent Eddie Campbell Jr. calls it “a game-changer, for our kids.”

Campbell is a longtime proponent of the dual offerings, which he first became familiar with as a high school principal in Virginia in the 1990s.

“This is something I’ve tried to get going since I came back here,” the superintendent said.

His career took him to Alaska and China before he returned to his native West Virginia 10 years ago, to head Tucker County Schools, before his move to Mon.

“Can you imagine being a high school senior having already graduated with a college degree? And this is a degree, from an accredited institution, that’s yours, no matter where your life or academics take you.”

That could be a springboard into the workforce or additional college, Gray said.

Campbell said he appreciated the outreach on behalf of Pierpont. While everything is still in the tentative stages, both he and Gray envision an initial cohort of 100 students, or better, in the first dual classes, which will likely be taught by a blend of Pierpont professors and Mon educators.

The district will soon be gauging interest through school platforms and other social media, Campbell said.

“Watch for the announcements,” he said.

“We want to have our first group of students in place next fall, so we’re gonna be pretty busy.”

TWEET @DominionPostWV