Camelot Education’s Rubino Academy Offers Students College Courses
Students come to Rubino Academy to get their education back on track, as most have fallen behind in their studies, but some are doing even more; they are taking college courses while enrolled in high school. In the dual enrollment program with Mercer County Community College, a student can take one three-credit-hour college course each semester and also receive credit for the course toward their high school diploma.
Rubino Principal Henry Krzeczkowski, an adjunct instructor at the college, initiated the program and teaches the classes in addition to his regular duties.
“The majority of our students don’t feel they are college sufficient,” he said. “One of the reasons we introduced this program was to let them know they can do college work if they apply themselves.”
The process for determining which students can enroll is two-fold. First, the school assesses which students are academically eligible, primarily seniors or those close to senior level. Second, a student must feel comfortable with doing the higher-level work.
“We explain that these are difficult courses, there is a lot of homework, and the classes are run just like those you would find in college. It is a college class,” Krzeczkowski said. “You are a dually-enrolled student. You’re entitled to all the resources the college provides, and you get college credits for it. Those credits are then transferrable if you decide to go to Mercer County College after graduation.”
In order to determine which courses to make available to Rubino students, Krzeczkowski collaborated with the college to select relevant and motivational subjects. One course, called Social Problems, examines the ills that affect students’ communities. Another taught this year was Introduction to Sociology. Krzeczkowski, who has a master’s degree in social work, is looking at adding a third and fourth course in the coming school year.
Camelot’s Rubino Academy is an open enrollment school-of-choice that serves roughly 15 school districts in the Mercer County, NJ area. The academy serves students who have fallen behind in their studies or are at-risk of dropping out of school. Most students arrive with significantly fewer credits than they should have for their age. The academy provides academic and therapeutic supports to help students get back on track for graduation, earn their high school diploma, and prioritizes post-secondary exposure and planning.
“Many of the students who come to us don’t have an expectation of going to college after high school,” noted Executive Director Jake Garrity. “By offering these courses, we are opening up the prospect that college or other post-secondary options may be achievable for them. We’re creating not just motivation, but confidence, that ‘maybe I can do this.’ We have some students who have not experienced a lot of success, and they have a fear of failing, but Mr. Krzeczkowski does a great job of getting our kids to see what it’s like on the other side – within college – and that yes, they can handle it.”
By attending the classes, students get to experience what college is all about, setting a basic foundation of what the expectations are in college. Krzeczkowski also brings a college representative into the classroom to talk about what comes next after high school graduation. By taking a dual enrollment course, students become pre-registered for Mercer County Community College, so there is no need to repeat the registration process after high school. Camelot Education pays for all dually-enrolled students’ tuition and books.
Almost 30 students took college courses this year. While most were seniors, two sophomores who had been taking all honors courses in the Trenton School District were advised into the classes, and both did extremely well. Another student, who successfully completed college courses, was living in a halfway house in Trenton with no family. She graduated and is now on her way to college. (Stay tuned in to the blog for her full story.)
With Krzeczkowski’s plans to expand the course offerings, other Rubino Academy faculty members have expressed interest in becoming an adjunct to teach college courses.
“This will lead to more opportunity and involvement from our students, and hopefully, we can show more students that they can succeed in college, too,” Krzeczkowski said.