PUSD Partners with Pasadena City College for 'PCC NW'

Published : Friday, December 18, 2015 | 6:11 PM

When John Muir High School first opened its doors in 1923, the campus offered both high school and technical college credits to a diverse student community in Northwest Pasadena.

This trend lasted until the mid-1950s, when the Pasadena Unified School District and Pasadena Community College were established as two separate entities, and the student population was divided in two.

But starting this spring, time will come full circle as college courses are offered once more on the John Muir High School campus. Thanks to a collaborative facility redesign, four classrooms at John Muir High have been rebuilt and technologically equipped to offer afternoon PCC courses for adult and high school students. PUSD is also providing security and custodial services at what is now known as “PCC NW.”

It’s part of an ongoing collaboration between the PUSD and PCC aimed at preparing high school students to excel in the 21st century workplace.

“We wanted to design an opportunity for students to get a head start in college while they’re in high school, so that they’re taking courses for their high school diploma while earning credits toward their associate degree at the same time,” said Muir Principal Tim Sippel. “It’s part of the college-going culture we’re building at Muir, where our graduates are regularly going on to attend UCLA, UC Berkeley and other top colleges and universities.”

Starting in January, Muir students will take free dual enrollment classes during the regular school day taught by Muir teachers who are also adjunct faculty at PCC. Students will earn college credits for these courses, which are available for Muir students only. Already, more than 45 students have already applied to take the PCC NW classes.

A slate of afternoon courses taught by PCC faculty will be open to the all PUSD students and the general public afterschool Monday-Thursday. Courses include English, Spanish, speech and psychology. The satellite campus will help PCC meet the increasing demand for certain courses while giving high school students early exposure to the college experience as they earn credits toward future degrees.

PCC Superintendent-President Rajen Vurdien, Ph.D., called the partnership with PUSD and Muir a key development in the community college’s ability to serve district residents.

“Our agreement with PUSD will give even more high school students access to college-level courses and the educational expectations that come with them,” Vurdien said. “At the same time, our community college credit courses will be offered literally in Northwest Pasadena’s backyard, expanding educational opportunity and empowering higher learning in this key area of our community.”

Marisa Sarian, Ph.D., PUSD’s Interim Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education, said that by facilitating high school students’ access to college credits before they graduate from high school helps them focus their academic trajectory and hit the ground running when they get to college.

“When students earn college credit while in high school, we see an increase in graduation rates,” Sarian said. “And they’re ultimately going to be more employable. I think this is going to help students clarify their career goals earlier and is going to increase motivation, persistence, retention and success.”

The PCC-Muir partnership helps bring PUSD one step closer to its goal of having high school seniors graduate with enough college credits to fulfill an associate degree.

“This is a true collaboration between PCC and PUSD that blends our common resources to bring 21st Century learning innovations to classrooms both during and after school so that our students realize their boundless potential,” said PUSD Superintendent Brian McDonald, Ed.D. “Our district is making long-term investments to ensure that our graduates succeed and lead locally and globally, putting us on par with best practice leaders in education.”

Sippel said the campus has undertaken efforts in recent years to improve students’ college readiness, including the creation of professionally focused learning academies and individual courses that allow students to earn college credit while they work toward a diploma.

But the newly crafted block of concurrent enrollment classes represents an exciting new effort to expose high school students to a higher level of learning on an ongoing basis.

“We want young people to realize the potential they have, and we want to bring them into as close to it as possible,” Sippel said.

“Bringing actual college-level courses onto campus, so there’s greater access to those opportunities, is an excellent prospect for our students.”

John Muir High School, 1905 Lincoln Ave., Pasadena, (626) 396-5600 or visit muir.pasadenausd.org.

Pasadena City College, 1570 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, (626) 585-7123 or visit pasadena.edu.

 

 

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