“My name is Leicha Shaver and I serve as principal of Roosevelt High School, which is located in Dallas, Texas. Prior to my experience in Roosevelt High School, I actually was assigned to Middle College High School, which is located, conveniently on the campus of El Centro, which is a Community College right in the heart of downtown Dallas. I was fortunate to be the principal at Middle College when we graduated two students-the first two- from the ISD of Dallas with their Associates Degree unbeknownst to me, after completing that experience, little did I know, that the district would reassign me to a full comprehensive campus – one located in the inner city, in a neighborhood that was characterized as lower socioeconomic, with students who were not graduating with their high school diplomas, let alone, going on to college from there.
My first experience with Roosevelt, I thought, “something has got to change.” something needs to be done. So the one thing I knew about was dual credit. Having had the experience at Middle College, I thought, this campus needs to be exposed to this opportunity. So I asked if I could implement dual credit classes my first year, and I was told, “No.” I was to focus on state testing requirements and that was the only thing they wanted me to do. The plan was actually to close the school and they wanted me to do so in a quiet fashion. Well, I knew a lot about dual credit. I knew it was life changing. So we met the State requirements year one, and year two I was given permission to implement dual credit classes. I sought out and worked with those students who were taking college classes at the campus would be able to handle the rigor and would be given the support and resources needed. Once that had been done, we identified students that would be up for this type of experience and we had about 20 students- and talk about students who were so excited. They were able to tell their friends, their family members, ” we’re in college!”
We’re very excited about this, as was our staff. The first year students were able to earn up to 24 college credit hours. Those students went off to college and as they came back, the reports were awesome. They talked about a sense of belonging. They talked about understanding the college process and they didn’t have to ask questions, because those students knew what to do.
Those students paved the way for year two. Year two students were able to graduate from high school with as much as 40 college credit hours. This was very exciting. The students were asking questions about dual credit and this actually paved the way for year three of dual credit and I’m happy to report that this year we had two students to graduate with not only their high school diploma, but also their Associates Degree.
Rosalinda Sanchez and Jose Caran. This is significant for these students because they did not plan to go to college at all. No one in their family has completed college, and as a matter of fact, Jose, during all of his summers, picked tobacco from a field in North Carolina. He asked his dad for permission to study, during the summer, to take classes and work towards the completion of his Associates Degree and his family said yes.
Rosalinda was equally as excited about taking classes. Her family also gave here permission, so we were able to watch these two students, this school year give up time with their friends, the sacrifices that they made were just exciting to see. The students knew what they were doing was important work. They seemed to understand how for their family, this was going to rewrite history; for their friends, who watched them, this was just awesome the students also decided they wanted to do more. So, the conversations in the halls was about college: ” Where do we go next? What are some things that we can do? For students that are coming behind them, we have students that are asking their counselors about how do I get into the dual credit program? I want to do the same thing. I want to graduate with my Associates Degree. If they can do it, we can do it too.
So, for parents, for students, for faculty members this has really created a sense of hope for the community. And we’re really excited.