RRISD & AC Partnership: Diplomas & Degrees

RRISD & AC Partnership: Diplomas & Degrees
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This is the image for the news article titled RRISD & AC Partnership: Diplomas & DegreesRRISD, Amarillo College form academic partnership
By Douglas Clark Amarillo Globe-News

Video by Amarillo College. Republished with the permission of Amarillo College.

River Road High School freshman Jonathan Malota has designs on earning a Master’s degree in chemical engineering. And thanks to River Road Independent School District’s bond with Amarillo College, Malota is on his way to reaching his goal, courtesy of the Diplomas and Degrees partnership.

River Road ISD Superintendent of Schools Richard Kelley and Amarillo College President Russell Lowery-Hart signed a Memorandum of Understanding in the River Road High School library Thursday, under the watchful eyes of dozens of students, faculty and staff members from both institutions.

Officials said Amarillo College launched Diplomas and Degrees in 2009 as a means of enabling top-performing students in the college’s Dual Credit network to begin working toward associate degrees as high school freshmen. Successful graduates often begin their university careers as full juniors.

“We’re celebrating a merger between two great academic institutions,” Kelley said. “This whole process started a couple of years ago, when one of our employees had this wonderful idea to help our kids get a leg up on the rest of the kids in the state of Texas. We now have 16 freshman and sophomore students enrolled in the program and are looking forward to the program continually flourishing.”

River Road High School Assistant Principal Rachel Freeman is credited with initiating the school district’s Diplomas and Degrees partnership involvement.

“When I arrived here four years ago, I felt the students were not being challenged enough to reach their goals,” she said “The counseling staff has been essential to the process and those participating sophomores are doubling up for the next year and a half to catch up on those credits. River Roads kids are amazing. When they do something, they do it all the way, with 100 percent commitment and heart. We thank them for being the kids that they are. I’m ecstatic about where we are and the direction we’re headed.”

Officials said 40 of the 60 credit hours needed to graduate from Amarillo College are offered via the Dual Credit Program and a unique feature of the endeavor is every credit Diplomas and Degrees partnership participants earn is transferable to colleges and universities throughout the state of Texas.

“I’m so proud of this partnership,” Lowery-Hart said. “What our team would like you all to know is out of all the schools we have this agreement with, River Road has more students enrolled in the Diplomas and Degrees program than any other school we partner with – and that says a lot about you, your families and the teachers and staff here. This partnership means a lot to Amarillo College, because River Road and Amarillo College both care about students. Thank you for helping to move our community forward and making such a tremendous impact.”

Malota said he would be certain to take advantage of the chance to get a jump start on his higher education pursuits.

“This is a great program that gives kids a tremendous opportunity to get a handle on college early,” he said. “It allows us to gain the proper mindset and form study habits that will last a lifetime. I know this will help my growth and development as I work toward the goal. I encourage anyone thinking about applying to be involved in the partnership to be persistent. Sometimes the classes are going to be tough, but I would advise them to stay motivated and focus on the task at hand. It’ll all pay off in the long run.”

Republished with the permission of the Amarillo Globe-News.