New college-level courses at Steele could save you cash

By Jason Hawk -

Nobody wants to rack up tens of thousands of dollars in college debt, which is why expansion of high-level courses at Amherst Steele are so important.

Principal Michael May revealed his plans Thursday to the News-Times for adding college credit classes next fall in statistics, pre-calculus, and anatomy and physiology.

The additions will allow students to pick up 14 college credits by the time they graduate from Steele, all without leaving the school to drive to Lorain County Community College.

Amherst already offers nine LCCC-vetted courses in composition, world history, algebra, fiction, poetry, and Spanish for a total of 30 college credits.

Last year, Amherst students earned 1,671 of those early LCCC credits in those classes — the most of any high school student body in Lorain County.

May estimates the value of those credits at a combined $264,000 (about $158 per credit hour).

The best part: The new courses that will roll out in Fall 2016 won’t cost taxpayers another dime. The classes are being added by rearranging schedules and without hiring any additional teachers.

“Students don’t have to leave our campus. They’re getting college-level education from teachers they already know and trust. And down the road it’s going to save them money,” May said. “As a parent, if I can get the first year of my son or daughter’s education already taken care of… and it transfers anywhere in Ohio, that saves a whole heck of a lot of money.”

How does it work?

May used science teacher Terry Kemp as an example. Kemp already teaches anatomy, so May reached out to leaders at LCCC and asked how to convert that advanced class into college credits.

LCCC sent its anatomy syllabus to Steele; Kemp mapped out a way to make it work in a high school classroom and the college approve the plan. Meanwhile, LCCC evaluated the credentials of Kemp and other Steele teachers who will lead college-level courses.

“It helps when you have teachers with advanced degrees who can get approved,” May said. “That’s where it starts — with talent.”

One more class is being developed for a possible launch next year. It would be a “Strategies for Creating College Success” course normally offered to LCCC freshmen.

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.

By Jason Hawk