Lassiter Makes Enduring Legacy to El Centro ECHS

This article was prepared by Eric Markinson, Principal at Dr. Wright L. Lassiter Early College HS. Interviews conducted by Kevin Ramos, class 2014.

Dr. Wright L. Lassiter Enjoying the proceedings

Dr. Wright L. Lassiter Enjoying the proceedings

This November, Dr. Wright L. Lassiter Jr. retired from his post as Chancellor of the Dallas County Community College District.  One of his lasting legacies is his instrumental role in founding Middle College High School at El Centro College in 1988.  The story goes that someone—Dr. Lassiter, or a counterpart from Dallas Independent School District, depending on who recounts the tale—read a blurb in a higher-ed journal regarding LaGuardia Community College’s successful partnership with MCHS, then already a decade old, and International High School.  MCHS Dallas was one of MCNC’s early offspring —a testimony to the power of trumpeting the unique work that the Consortium accomplishes.  Having transformed itself from re-connection program to magnet school to its current incarnation as an early college, the school now serves a diverse group of students who are attracted to its alternative-school beginnings.  Students arrive embracing the school’s vision of every student receiving an associate’s degree, every student having the opportunity to complete a bachelor’s degree.  85% of the school’s students would be the first in their families to complete college.

Because that opportunity was so dear to Dr. Lassiter’s vision, the school community petitioned to name itself after its most ardent supporter.  Last November 15, the MCHS Dallas community celebrated re-naming the school Dr. Wright L Lassiter Jr Early College High School at El Centro College.  In preparation for the event, students interviewed Dr. Lassiter’s associates and some of the long-term allies of the program—Executive Dean Howard Finney, Dean of Students Felicitas Alfaro—and researched Dr. Lassiter’s writings.  Students then interviewed Dr. Lassiter about his experience of the school and what moved him to support the Middle College ideal of college for all.

Dr. Lassiter speaks to students and faculty and renaming of school ceremony

Dr. Lassiter speaks to students and faculty and renaming of school ceremony

Kevin Ramos, Class of 2014:         My first question is, Could you recall for us how the school was established?

Dr. Lassiter: It was early 1988 when the Dallas [Independent School District] Superintendent and the Dallas [County Community College] District Chancellor and other interested individuals were concerned that there was a group of students who were high-achieving, but had some challenges and were dropping out of high school.  So a delegation of us went to New York, to tour the Middle College and LaGuardia Community College.  We were impressed: It was a high-achieving institution; students were highly motivated.  And, when we came back it was the general conclusion that we should start such an activity here in Dallas.  Because I was the President of El Centro, and because many of the students at LaGuardia were African American and Hispanic, inner-city students, we thought this was the best place for the students.  It was a little difficult for the students the first 2 or 3 years; then we began to show the faculty, Oh, what good work the students were doing.KR:    And why did you believe, personally, that it was important to build a Middle College High School at El Centro?

Dr Lassiter:   Well, I grew up in Mississippi, during the era of segregation; and I saw the challenges that persons of color—really, at that time, African Americans—faced.  And I became convinced that wherever there was an occasion to provide an opportunity for students, that opportunity should be addressed.  And so, I felt that this was something that I should do.  As Paul Harvey used to say, “And you know the rest of the story.”  It turned out to be a very good venture: Look at all of you [students].

Miguel Najera, Class of 2014:       Dr. Lassiter, in one of your books you wrote, “Make an impact, not an impression.”  As a major community service contributor, to United Way and the Urban League, what do you think has been your most significant contribution to the community?

Dr. Lassiter:   Let me start by telling you how my service orientation came about.  When I was a teenager, my father shared a thought with me.  He said to me, “Junior, Service is the rent you pay for the space you occupy here on earth.”  That became one of my fundamental values.  I wanted to be of service.  So, when I came to Dallas, there were a number of opportunities for service—United Way was one of them, Salvation Army, the African American Museum—all of those where you could contribute to the betterment of the larger society.  That has just been the way I have conducted my life.

MN:   What is a motto you try to live by?

Dr. Lassiter:   “The largest room in any house is the room for improvement.”  That is the message I convey to people like you, students—saying to you all that there are no boundaries to what you can achieve; there are no boundaries to that which you should acquire, to help you as you go along in life….So, that is what I would say to all of you as you go through life, as you get your high school diploma and associate’s degree: Don’t stop; keep going.  didn’t.  I’m still in school, by the way.  I recently…I decided that, although I have all these degrees, I wanted to get some deeper grounding in the spiritual area…. So, I am completing another doctoral degree…because the largest room in any house is the room for improvement.

KR:    Do you have any advice for high school students who are uncertain about their future?

Faculty and students from El Centro Community College and Dr. Wright L. Lassiter ECHS pose with the honoree

Faculty and students from El Centro Community College and Dr. Wright L. Lassiter ECHS pose with the honoree

Dr. Lassiter:   Someone asked me, “What have been your personal success factors,” and I wrote this: Hard work; determination; preparation; drive for success; and risk-taking.  Let me tell you what happened to me when I finished college: I was the first person in my family to finish college.  After I had walked across the stage of the chapel at Alcorn College, my family and I were smiling and getting ready to leave Alcorn and go back home to Vicksburg, when the head of the business department came to me and asked if I had a job for the summer.  My father was a contractor, so I always had a job for the summer…  “We would like for you to stay here and join the faculty.”  Not two hours earlier, I had graduated with a baccalaureate degree.  My response was, “If you have enough confidence in me to offer me the job, then I am enough of a risk-taker to say yes.”

US Congressional Representative Donna Edwards Keynote Speaker at Student Leadership Conference

Rep. Donna EdwardsMCNC is proud to announce that the keynote welcoming address at the 2014 Student Leadership Initiative Conference in Prince George County, MD will be delivered by distinguished US Congressional Representative, Donna Edwards. Opening ceremonies will take place at Prince George County Community College on Wednesday, April 30, 2014. Ms Edwards, a Democrat, has served in Congress since 2008. She was the first African-American woman to represent Maryland in the US Congress. A graduate of Wake Forest University, she received her J.D. from Franklin Pierce Law Center in New Hampshire.
Ms. Edwards is a long time supporter of Social Justice issues, having served as the first executive director of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, an advocacy and legal support group for battered women. She worked to pass the 1994 Violence Against Women Act. On the global stage she has been an advocate and staunch supporter to end the genocide in Darfur, which resulted in an arrest outside the Sudan embassy in 2009. Currently, she is actively at work on issues such as the repeal of Citizens United, the increase of the minimum wage for all workers in Maryland, and the expansion of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) for high school students.
Donna Edwards is committed to promoting opportunities for higher education for all youth. She is currently sponsoring a statewide competition of STEM projects among high school students in the 4th Congressional District, involving schools, workplace, and research institutions.
Middle College National Consortium and all our students eagerly await this special event.

Consortium Matters

MCNC STEMs Ahead. . . thoughts from Dr. Cecilia Cunningham, Executive Director    cece1

MCNC is proud to share with you that we have been awarded a prestigious i3 grant in partnership with NCREST, Teachers College and Jobs for the Future..Our i3 grant, STEM Early College Expansion Partnership, or SECEP is based on the expansion of Early Colleges with a focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.  The future workplace will require greater facility with STEM concentrations, but despite the economic demand, student interest and achievement in STEM disciplines have remained stagnant. Only about 14% of undergraduates are enrolled in STEM studies, and STEM postsecondary students are more likely than non-STEM students to be foreign, young, and from families with income in the top 25% or with parents who had some college education in STEM (IES, 2009). There are few proven models that have demonstrated success in increasing student achievement in STEM fields, particularly among low income students and students of color. Early College is a proven model for increasing student access to and achievement in college, especially for students who are underrepresented in college.The matching funds for a significant portion of this work come from the Mott Foundation, a long time supporter of Mott Middle College in Michigan and the expansion of the Middle College in that state.  MCNC will be coordinating activities for SECEP in Michigan and Jobs for the Future will coordinate the activities in Bridgeport.  We will cooperatively share and develop new resources to ensure that this project is successfulDr. Chery Wagonlander will provide local expertise for the sites in Michigan.The goals for this 5year project will be:

  • Improve STEM instruction by scaling STEM ECHS designs to increase the opportunities for students’ access to STEM postsecondary studies and careers.
  • Expand STEM ECHS high quality professional development in STEM subjects to increase teachers STEM content and pedagogical content knowledge.
  • Build key partnerships with districts and postsecondary institutions to position STEM ECHS designs for sustainability

At the end of five years we will evaluate the effects on the college going rates at the partner sites especially in STEM.

You will be hearing a lot more about SECEP in the coming months as we prepare for the summer conference, where we will roll out specific resources, strategies and supports.

Early College High School Initiative Impact Study: A Social and Academic Success Story

“I felt that being able to start taking college courses at (Early College) while still in high school made it much easier to adapt from high school to full- time college student after graduation.”

Early College Alum

 The most recent long-term study released in June 2013 finds that Early College High Schools have had a sustained positive impact on traditionally underserved students nationwide. Reports published by AIR(American Institute for Research) and SRI International point to the unequivocal success of Early College High Schools. The study conducted by Andrea Berger (Project Director), Lori Turk-Bicakci (Deputy Project Director), Michael Garet (Principal Investigator), Mengli Song, Joal Knudson, Clarisse Haxton, Kristina Zeiser, Gur Hoshen, Jennifer Ford, Jennifer Stephan and Kaeli Keating and Lauren Cassidy of SRI, found strong evidence to answer the study’s two questions:

1. Do Early College students have better outcomes than they would have had at other high schools?

2. Does the impact of Early Colleges vary by student background characteristics (e.g., gender and family income)?

The study compared outcomes for students from 10 ECHS (Early College High School) where admission was conducted by lottery with similar schools in the districts where students did not have access to structured, tuition free college courses and academic support. Students in non-ECHS institutions had participated in the lotteries, but had not been accepted into the ECHS programs. The study included 2,458 students in five states. It assessed both quantitative data (2004-2012) and qualitative data, obtained from student and grantee interviews. The latter included only 1,294 Early College students. Subjects were approximately ½ female, ½ low-income, ½ minority and 1/3 first generation college attendees.

Early College High Schools were initiated by funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2002, for development of Early Colleges to give students traditionally underrepresented in postsecondary education the opportunity to enroll in college courses and receive credit while pursuing a high school diploma.

“My time at (the Early College) has prepared me for schoolwork at a higher level because I was basically performing the same level of work throughout high school. The environment pushed me to take every opportunity offered to me…I am a better student for having attended (EC).”
-Early College Alum


Early Colleges are structured around core principles which have demonstrated success in challenging assumptions about age and academic experience necessary for high quality performance. These are:

• A commitment to serving students underrepresented in higher education

• Created and sustained by a local education agency, a higher education institution and the community, all of whom are jointly accountable for student success.

• Schools and their higher education partners and community jointly develop an integrated academic program so that all students earn one to two years of transferable college credit leading to college completion.

• EC schools engage all students in a comprehensive support system that develops academic and social skills as well as the behaviors and conditions necessary for college completion.

• EC schools and their higher education and community partners work with intermediaries to create conditions and advocate for supportive policies that advance the early college partners.

“[The Early College] allowed me to receive my associate’s degree nearly for free. Without [the Early College] I would not have my competitive edge that I have now at [college]; and I wouldn’t have the same confidence, college smarts, or goals.”

-Early College Alum


The 10 year AIR/SRI Study confirmed the success of these programs. The study found that EC students were more likely to graduate from high school than comparison students. 86% of incoming cohort from EC schools graduated on time, vs 81% from the comparison schools. In addition EC students had higher English language arts assessment scores than the comparison group.

EC students were more likely (63%) to enroll in college during their high school career than comparison students (23%). One year after graduation the majority of both groups 77% (EC) vs 67% (Comp) were enrolled in college. EC Students and graduates were more likely to enroll in both two and four year colleges than their comparison peers (59% vs 38% in 2 year colleges and 54% vs 47% in four year colleges).

Finally EC students were more likely to earn a college degree than comparison students. By the end of high school, the study found 20% of EC students had earned an A.A. degree as opposed to 1% of the comparison group. At the end of the first year after high school 21% of EC students had earned a degree, while comparison students earning a degree remained 1%.

The study found that EC impacts on high school graduation and college enrollment were similar regardless of gender, race/ethnicity, family income, achievement before high school and whether they were first generation in family to attend college. Surveys and interviews demonstrated higher ratings among EC students than comparison groups regarding:

• Academic rigor

• College-going culture

• Level of instructor support

• Quality of support completing college and financial aid applications.

This summary was adapted from the complete 2013 report, Early College, Early Success: Early College High School Initiative Impact Study, available at Inquiries about the evaluation may be sent to Andrea Berger at aberger (at)

For more information about the Early College High School Initiative, visit






Student Leadership 2014: Prince George County, MD-Washington, DC

Student Leadership Middle College National Consortium style is bearing down towards DC. An army of youth-warriors are set to tackle issues of Social Justice across the nation and they are aiming to be heard. After last year’s breakthrough conference in Columbus, Ohio where our students asked the question, “What makes a healthy community?” they wanted to address some of the ills they had uncovered with well designed plans and clear action. Social Justice was the theme they selected; political action to assess, inform and increase college access for all high school students is their mission.

Currently 20 youngsters-sophomores and juniors from the Academy of Health Sciences in Prince George County, MD are working with two history professors, Normand Lambert and Cornell Mickens, planning activities for the 200+ peers who will arrive in Maryland in the Spring. Students are focused on a variety of social justice issues which touch their lives and hearts: bullying, human trafficking, violence, poverty, gender equity and racial and religious discrimination. What these conversations lead them to understand is there is a common thread to most social injustice: lack of education by both victim and perpetrator. Students will examine how the Early/Middle College opportunity and experience: rigor and challenge with support and contact with a college environment changed their self efficacy and aspirations to complete their post secondary education and move onto fulfilling careers. Realizing that education opened doors to them and also made them more tolerant of one anothers’ beliefs, lifestyles and traditions will fuel their efforts to reach out to politicians in their local and national legislatures with the message that opportunity in this country must be open to all .

The Conference, taking place April 30-May 4 will include an Arts Exchange, trips to the Capitol, Monuments, Museums and Newseum. The highlight will be the opportunity for each student to take a photo with a member of their home district after delivering a short appeal to address more opportunities for college access in high school for all. Students from each of our Middle and Early Colleges will work with local representatives to understand current bills under consideration in their local and national legislatures that increase support for an early college/dual credit experience for all high school students. In the end, we all know that the solution that most critically impacts social justice is education and that access is determined, in most cases by location, fluency, education history, poverty, etc.

MCNC supports efforts to prepare students coming to the conference through it’s web based platform: MCNC Youth A closed group facilitated by Megan Lee, an MCNC graduate and Terry Born, the community hosts weekly forums, arts exchanges and oversees the completion of research, organization and communication tasks that are at the heart of the Leadership Initiative. This year, we will also build a Web-Exchange that will track and make available current Policy and Programs in each of our MCNC Communities so that students and Advisors can get the national perspective about EC Access for All.

For more information about the program, the conference and the on line communities: contact: tborn39396 (at)


Consortium Matters: The Future

Dr. Cecilia Cunningham | Director of MCNCAcademic landscapes are changing quickly and organizations need to make adaptations that keep them vital, growing and attractive to old and new members alike. Most importantly, they must remain relevant. With these thoughts in mind the Executive Board met at the Summer Conference 2013 and came to some difficult, but we feel exciting decisions about the Consortium’s future.

We discussed that we need to broaden our outreach to schools and programs that have a dual enrollment component, i.e. Middle Colleges, Early Colleges and High School Dual Enrollment programs. Our mission will be to support dual enrollment as a strategy for high school reform and as a major college and career readiness strategy. To get the word out we will be revising our logo, our web site and our membership requirements.

We have decided to reframe our Design Principles by simplifying them to four pillars for student success in college classes in high school:

• Deep Sustained Collaboration with college partners

• Aligned Academic Programs from the 9th grade through 60 credits

• Student Support appropriate to the needs of the subtends and the demands of the college

• Professional Development focused on the boundary spanning roles of high school and college staff who sustain the collaboration

These four pillars are supported and informed by student data on college success and student perceptions of their experience in Middle/Early Colleges and Dual Enrollment Programs.

We will be working on streamlining our membership application process that will include faculty ratification and college support so that it will survive changes in leadership.

Institutional collaboration is our niche and our strength and we will put that front and center in all of our work. It will be reflected in our communications and in our conference agendas.

To kick off our new focus, NCREST will look at the 8 years of data that we have and align it with our four pillars and provide a mechanism for emerging knowledge about our pillars at our Winter Leadership Conference. We will not have a traditional TA conference but use our aggregate data to inform our work more closely. The 2012-13 data will still be available for your schools at the winter conference


And with that in mind we share our new MCNC MISSION STATEMENT

The mission of the Middle College National Consortium is to increase the number of students nationally who have access to supported dual enrollment in Early Colleges, Middle Colleges and Dual Enrollment Programs.


• Providing leadership and Support for Continuous improvement in member schools and programs

• Providing Technical Assistance for new Early Colleges and Dual Enrollment Programs

• Collecting and Analyzing Data for School and Program Improvement and to validate the positive outcomes for students

• Providing cross-city and cross institutional learning opportunities about practices that result in increased college completion rates

• Ensuring that Student Voice informs school and program design through the use of student surveys and the Annual National Student Leadership Initiative


So that member schools and programs can develop and sustain a successful model of collaborative education that expands students’ future opportunities.

Social Justice at The Charles School

Social Justice at The Charles SchoolTHE Charles School at Ohio Dominican University brought the theme of Social Justice home to their students in both a historical and personal way. Columbus native Wil Haygood is the author of The Butler: A Witness to History, which has been on the New York Times Best Seller list since the release of the motion picture in August. It is the story that inspired Lee Daniels to direct the movie Lee Daniels’ The Butler which has been a box office smash. Mr. Haygood officially launched his book at Ohio Dominican University on the 12th of September. As a young man he was inspired to go to college through the Upward Bound program hosted at ODU and felt it a fitting place to hold the book launch. Earlier that afternoon, Mr. Haygood, through the gracious cooperation and generosity of ODU and the Brentnell Recreation Center, spoke to The Charles School students, staff, board, and members of the community at the Brentnell Recreation Center. For nearly an hour, Mr. Haygood inspired the students through his words, answered student’ questions about the movie and his life, signed books, and posed for pictures. Khara Bage a veteran MCNC Student Leadership Host Ambassador asked Mr Haywood a question. The Leadership program fosters innovative collaborations, experiential learning opportunities and collaborations with the community to develop student voices to be change agents of tomorrow.

The “Newman” on Campus: Michael Newman, New Principal at MCNC Member, Western ECHS.

Principal Michael Newman

Principal Michael Newman of Western Early College High School

Western Early College High School is a new member of Middle College National Consortium. Partnered with Jefferson Community and Technical College, WECHS was a struggling comprehensive high school in Louisville, KY when, with the support of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, it ventured into offering high school students an early college experience. Former principal, David Mike, made radical changes in student behavior, while opening the door to college for its students. Now, with the guidance and support of Middle College National Consortium and JCTC, Western Early College and its new principal, Michael Newman, are taking its program to new heights. Newman is combining educational experience, business savvy, and the love of a good challenge to address the needs and aspirations of underserved first generation college-bound students who need to meet today’s high standards to make their dreams come true. Recently Newman took some time to share with us his philosophy, experience, and plans for the future of Western ECHS.


What was your journey to Western ECHS? Was there any particular experience or personality trait that made you a good fit for this position?

I grew up in Louisville. From an early age I was always goal driven. I went to a large high school, where kids didn’t get a lot of counseling, because it was always assumed everyone would do well. I loved and participated in sports and I always knew I’d go to college. Even during high school, I was climbing into leadership positions. I was captain of sports teams, etc. When I did enter college, I intended to be an environmental engineer.

Once there, I realized that wasn’t the path for me. I made a one hundred eighty degree turn and became an English major. While I was in college, I also worked as a business manager and loved the opportunity to implement systems to structure an organization. When I graduated, I became a teacher in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The population was the opposite of my own experience in Louisville. I saw the void in my students’ experiences, their lack of skills, and sought from the beginning to address this. As a teacher, I sought out leadership roles and my principal counseled me to become an administrator. He pointed out that I could impact more kids than just the ones in my classes, if I could lead an entire school.

Later, I moved to Knoxville and started graduate school. There, I worked with a totally different demographic population. Again, both administrators and principals counseled me towards educational leadership. After receiving my degree, I came home to Louisville to work at Western. After a year as a teacher, I became an Assistant Principal at the school. Then, under the tutelage of Principal David Mike, I saw how effective systems could impact the behavior of students, taking the school from chaos back to order. He fostered the ideas that teachers were autonomous and that students had to be held to a model of behavior. Together, using our mutually beneficial partnership, we turned the behavioral component of a low achieving school around; I learned from him and he sought my advice on the academic life of students. The result of our efforts was that Western was able to move out of the NCLB “doghouse.” Then the state changed its accountability standards, and with the adoption of the Common Core, we fell back below again.

Western’s Early College was a program in a large comprehensive high school and not sustainable, because it targeted only a small select group of students. Over the last 3 years, representatives from the school, Woodrow Wilson, and JCTC worked as a team to redefine what the model should look like. Now, as principal, I can take my passion for young people and the lessons I learned from my turn-around work under David Mike to transform our Early College to a whole school model that gives our population tangible goals and a clear pathway to realizing them.


What elements of ECHS attracted you to the program?

When Western was selected to be an Early College, many people considered merge of the design of an EC program into a comprehensive public high school as a nearly impossible challenge. Because of my business background and love for logistics, I viewed it as I a start-up “company.” The program meshed with my passion for kids. Working through the EC model, I was able to offer socially disadvantaged, underserved populations a sure reality and a way to improve the conditions in their lives.


What changes or new directions to Western ECHS do you hope to implement?

The school has a clear goal: All Western Warriors will leave college ready, career experienced, goal driven, and reality certain. We are redesigning our Early College based on six programs of study. In this way, all coursework will be directly related to the career a student wants to pursue. For example, when a young person says he has an interest in medicine, we will set him on a pathway that feeds into the medical training available at JCTC and gives the student the knowledge that will allow him to transfer later to a four- year university.

Our plan is based on the concept of Career Academies, but takes it one step further. We will be aligning our pathways to include not only career experience, but also college experience. The six areas of study that we have outlined with Jefferson Community and Technical College are:

• Medicine

• General Arts and Humanities

• Culinary Arts

• Business, Communications and Tech

• Education

• Career- Tech

JCTC offers courses in each of these pathways, so we are in talks with these departments to further develop our ideas. For example, the chair of the Education Department wants to offer an educational theory course for our freshmen and sophomores. Later in their junior and senior years, students on the Education Pathway will take courses half-time and then full time on the college campus. We plan to follow the MCNC model of student support for college success by offering a side by side advisory program (University 111). Through this program, we will teach study skills and resume building, provide metacognitive supports and mentorships which include local business professionals. Some local businesses have already offered shadowing, internships and summer jobs to our students. One group has offered Western ECHS graduates with Associates in Arts degrees hiring priority. I see it as my mission to make sure that a career-college experience in one of these strands is available for each and every one of our students. This will make their reality certain.


How close is this vision to implementation?

The school district is in talks with superintendent to get approval for this plan. It makes sense to use this model to change the accountability measure of success to long-term criteria rather than the current practices of using a single test.

When the program is in full implementation, we envision limiting seats in each college pathway to 25 per grade or 150 per class. We understand the difficulties that our population comes to us with– low skills and negative academic experiences, so we are exploring extending the EC program to a fifth year to ensure greater success. We are hoping that the planning and discussions between academic, district, and business partners will be complete soon, so we can start next year with 30 students in each Pathway.

Ultimately, I see this model as benefitting more than just Western kids.


What opportunities and benefits to students and staff are currently available through your partnership with the college?

Students have full access to all college resources from their freshman year. JCTC, our college partner, has allowed the on-campus experience to expand to 150 students over the next 3 years.

We have another partner as well, the Louisville Rotarians, who have offered the Louisville Promise Rotary Scholarship for any student completing 60 credits. In order to qualify, our students must maintain a 2.5 GPA, have a 90% attendance rate, and have no major behavioral incidents during their high school career. The Rotarians will pay up to full tuition towards a third year at JCTC for our students. That’s the equivalent of $10,000.


How have you been able to maintain, expand and nurture the relationship with the college?

We honestly believe the reason the relationship is so successful is the communication between the stakeholders. We meet monthly as a board of directors to discuss programming needs, where student skills lie, and how to strengthen them. There are monthly meetings between dual credit professors and our teachers to steward the vision and expand the reach of the program to more young people.


Any last thoughts?

During my time here with the ECHS, we have recognized the need to be flexible and ever- changing. When problems present themselves, we see them not as obstacles, but as challenges to overcome to help more students.


CEC Middle College: Where College and Career Readiness Go Hand in Hand


High school graduation is a time of celebration and completion, but one laced with the shadow of “What next?” Behind the happy faces of graduates tossing mortarboards and parents beaming with pride for their children’s accomplishment are questions about the future. Career Education Center students standing on the stage of Community College of Denver last Spring had clear answers and no doubts. They claimed tangible real world skills along with discipline and skills to succeed in college. This class was a landmark one for the school, with accomplishments exceeding even the highest expectations of faculty, parents, peers and the graduates themselves.

CEC Middle College has a lot to be proud of. One of the Consortium’s oldest members, it has the unique mission of offering students high school requirements, college course credits and certificate bearing classes and internships that get students college and career ready.

In September CEC was acknowledged in Denver’s Magazine, 5280 as one of the top 20 high schools on the Front Range of Colorado. But that was only one of several accolades for principal, Scott Springer who says his school is riding a wave of growing success.

“We had our largest graduating class last year of just under 100 students,” said Springer. “The 2013 class had the highest ACT scores ever. Graduates earned more than $1.7 million in scholarships and all graduates were accepted to CCD (Community College of Denver). Moreover, 87 students got offers from two colleges or more.”

CEC Middle College offers hands-on, versatile, relevant and rigorous classes for students who are earning college credits at the Denver school. Currently the school has 400 full and 320 part-time students enrolled. Part time for CEC Denver refers to students who do half days at CEC and half at their home high schools. All students are enrolled in one of eighteen career programs.

College success for these students means time saved and dollars earned. These dollars translate into savings for their families, savings for the institutions, which will not have to remediate college ready-college performing-graduates, and to graduates who are trained in fields that are waiting to hire career ready youth. Last year’s students earned more than 1,500 semester hours of college credit which adds up to more than $180,000 in college tuition. 67 students graduated with 12 college credits or more; and three graduated with more than 40 hours. Students were awarded $1,795,000 in scholarships ($900,000 by the Denver Scholarship Foundation). An unprecedented three students earned the prestigious Daniels Fund Scholarship which covers full tuition, lodging and travel for four years.

CEC graduates were also exemplary in their academics. Nineteen seniors qualified for Phi Theta Kappa, Community College of Denver’s honor organization, earning a minimum of 12 college credits and a college GPA of 3.5 or higher. This year was the first year in the history of CEC, the school brought home a school Championship. CEC’s Robotics team won the National competition, which earned them a spot to represent the school in the World Competition in St. Louis in April. Many of the team members were seniors.

MCNC and its members all congratulate CEC Denver and their principal, Scott Springer on these accomplishments and wish them nothing but mile high honors in the future.

CEC Denver Graduation





If your school has great stories to share, please share them with our readers.  Contact MCNC Newsletter

tborn39396 (at)


Fulfulling Promises: Winter 2014

Fulfulling Promises: Winter 2014