• November 6, 2013
At Early College no stone seems unturned nor no resource unused in the quest to prepare students for the rigor and excitement of higher education.
This year Rochester Early College International High School is partnering with St. John Fisher College in a promising and unique program, “Project College Bound.” Created and administered by SJFC Professor Jeffrey Liles, and funded with a $7500 grant he received from the Bank of America, the program brings together faculty and students from both SJFC and RECIHS, and is designed to encourage academic success in high school and beyond.
College Bound pairs Liles with RECIHS English teacher Synthia Salomon as the school-based teaching partner. It consists of six “college ready” sessions in two of Salomon’s classes at the high school and four visits to the SJFC campus between September and December, which include lectures and interviews with faculty, administrators and students.
Eight SJFC students from Liles’ adolescent development class assist in the sessions at the high school, helping students conduct research using primary and secondary documents to answer questions on college readiness. The interaction has been invaluable for the RECIHS students discovering what college is really about and for SJFC adolescent education students (who receive service learning credit) considering careers in teaching.
The program is important on several levels. First, according to Liles, research indicates that talking and thinking about college should begin as early as ninth and tenth grade, especially in high needs communities. Engaging high school students in “college talk” and related experiences increases academic achievement for those beginning to imagine life after graduation. (from Michelle G. Knight and Joanne E. Marciano, College Ready: Preparing Black and Latina/o Youth for Higher Education – A Culturally Relevant Approach.)
As significantly, the project builds professional bridges between high school and college teachers as both learn equally from one another. Furthermore, without doubt, the success of public, urban schools depends upon broad community partnerships between secondary and post-secondary institutions. (
Other successful community/academic partnerships:
On the day I was at the high school, students had made their first trek to Fisher. They attended a lecture on the civil rights movement by Dr. Arlette Miller Smith, who teaches classes in African-American history. They also received a database research session with librarian Kathi Sigler. The scholars learned how to log onto Fisher’s system and use a variety of research databases to locate and retrieve information about their research questions. Sporting red College Bound shirts, all were excited to use video cameras provided by the grant to document the trip, and almost to a person, praised the all-you-can-eat lunch.
As the program progresses, Salomon plans to incorporate the results into her doctoral research towards an Ed.D. Hopefully, Project College Bound will be deemed useful and effective for implementation elsewhere.
Along with the work of Liles and Salomon the program would not be possible without the dedicated efforts of staff and faculty from both RECIHS and SJFC. They include:
RECIHS: Principal Marlene Blocker and Assistant Principal Dufie Kankum — administrative support, Tammy Tuttobene — office support, Kathy Diener, Salomon’s special education co-teacher – instructional support
SJFC: Dean of the School of Education Mike Wischowski – administrative support, Lynn Donahue – Director of Service Learning, Eileen Atwell– office support