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Halls new Early College @ Jones program has 150 enrolled
The new Early College @ Jones entrance is complete with new sidewalks, awning and stairway to lead to the learning commons.

Hall County’s new Early College @ Jones program, which gives high schoolers a head start on college, is expected to start Aug. 5 with about 150 students — more than double the number first anticipated.

Michele Hood, coordinator of the program, called it a “great bridge” from high school to college.

“Here they are on their own, but if they need support, we’re here for them,” Hood said.

She said the school district was not sure what to expect when it began taking applications in March.

Hood said Early College came about because the district and school board “took a look at our students and our community and asked what they (could) do to make careers and college more available.”

School officials began talking about a program to provide college credit and transportation about a year ago, she said.
Transportation is a big issue, Hood said.

“A number of students when they call or ask me questions — that is one of the first questions they ask me: Will there be transportation?”

Hall County will provide buses from each high school in the district to the Early College campus, site of the old Jones Elementary School, at the end of 6th Street in the Chicopee neighborhood. That cost will be paid by a federal grant the school district received.

Early College will allow students to get college and high school credits for courses. The only cost to students might be some course supplies.

Hall schools also will supply a Chromebook or Windows laptop for students as needed. Lack of a computer was identified as a potential stumbling block, Hood said, so the school district is providing that as needed.

She said the program will be in the mornings only for the first year. Classes will be at 9, 10 and 11 a.m. Most students, she said, are likely to take two classes. The 10 a.m. class will be a combination of online instruction and in-class instruction by a teacher.

Hood said she anticipates expanding the program to a full day in 2017.

The University of North Georgia and Lanier Technical College will provide instructors for all classes. UNG courses will be Monday, Wednesday and Friday; Lanier Tech will hold classes Monday through Thursday.

The days students are not in the classes, they will be offered help of several kinds.

“They have to learn to put those hours in,” Hood said of the days students are not in class. Learning to study for college material is one part of the program, as well as learning to be on time, participate and have a good resume.
Both colleges also will offer tutors, Hood said.

Hood and Stephanie Cookson will be Hall County employees on site to assist students.

Hood said the students accepted thus far are a cross-section of the student bodies in Hall.

Classes will start with two sections for animation and game design, a certificate course offered by Lanier Tech.

Design and media production and medical front office certificate courses also are offered.

Certificate programs will be graded on a 4.5 scale, like an honors course in high school.

Academic courses planned are college intro courses in English, college algebra, pre-calculus, psychology, speech and Spanish.

The academic courses will be the equivalent of an AP course, and graded on a 5.0 scale, Hood said.

Students still can take AP courses and participate in athletics or other extracurricular activities at their home schools, Hood said.

Hood said a number of students have cried when told they are accepted. Some have said, “I never thought I could go to college,” she said.