By Janette Haak
Living in this mecca of Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and the surrounding community, we have so many school choices. Recently, Rachael Varblow wrote a blog titled Shaping Kids Through Homeschool and Jan McMorris wrote about St. Paul Lutheran School as a great option. Those two articles focused on the elementary years. This one will move us down the line to High School and the options at that level.
Washtenaw Technical Middle College, also known as WTMC is a charter high school program at Washtenaw Community College. It is a wonderful opportunity for students who want to attend college classes while in high school.
Both of my children attended WTMC and had wonderfully successful experiences. You start the program your sophomore year. There are a few spots for freshman, but the student will be in all high school classes their freshman year.
When my children attended, they were in high school classes till they were ready for college classes. My daughter enrolled her jr. year, and still attended three years. My son attended his sophomore year and is graduating after three years this May.
One of the great things about WTC is that the teachers help the students decide by empowering them to make the choice as to when they are ready for the college classes. Beginning from the day that they’re accepted into the program, they’re learning how to advocate for themselves.
Beginning from the day that they’re accepted into the program, they’re learning how to advocate for themselves.
Having home schooled my children and being in charge of everything, it was quite a shock for me to no longer be in charge of what my children were doing in their classrooms. You can check your child’s grades on power school, an online grading program.
The teachers and advisors see how often the student looks at power school, but they can also see how often parents check it. They want to see that the students are checking their grades more than their parents. We made it a point to check grades together every Wed.
The students have to poses two skills in order to move on to college classes; soft skills and academic grades. For some students, this can happen after only one semester of high school classes their sophomore year, for others it might take a little longer. They can also split and have two high school classes and two college classes.
The students have to poses two skills in order to move on to college classes; soft skills and academic grades.
Possessing soft skills includes, advocating for yourself, meaning you can talk to your teacher about questions, homework, tests or just some clarification. It also includes showing that you can keep a neat, organized folder, turn in assignments and show responsibility in general.
To achieve academic success, the teachers meet regularly and discuss each and every student as a team. They discuss their academics, their soft skills and how they can guide them to be successful in their classes. There is a special needs advocate for those who need extra help.
The WTMC students also have access to all the tutors used by the WCC students. My son would write his English paper and then take it to the writing tutor, they would go over his paper and the tutor would help him with changes that needed to be made.
The attention the students receive at WTMC/WCC compared to a typical high school is much different. The classes are much smaller and the teachers really have the opportunity to get to know the students. Each student has the same advisor thru the 3 years and they help them keep on course for their program.
Each student has the same advisor thru the 3 years and they help them keep on course for their program.
When they’re ready, the advisor helps the student sign up for their WCC classes. I felt that my children were not just a number to their advisor, but a real student with great potential, who they cared for and about. (I’m not saying this can’t happen at a typical high school, just saying that it felt different to me than Joel’s freshman year at a typical high school.)
I felt that my children were not just a number to their advisor, but a real student with great potential, who they cared for and about.
One of the classes the student takes in the WTMC program is a survey to see what program they might be interested in. My daughter went with photography and my son has studied welding. For both of them to have passion for a field and know what they wanted to do, made it much easier to choose a college for them to further their degrees.
You can also research the admissions requirements and make sure your child is taking classes that will transfer. Some schools have an articulation agreement which is helpful in knowing what classes will transfer and how many credit hours they will take. (this =$) My daughter will only be in college for three years instead of 4. The average college student is actually in school for 5 years, so I’m pleased with three!
It is also important to consider your child’s personality when thinking about WTMC. Although it offers great potential for college classes, it also means, that your child will not have a typical high school experience. They will be in classes with a variety of people in their college classes. They need to be mature and self-motivated. If they thrive on school dances, and other school events, WTMC is not the choice for them. Neither of my children cared about those things.
It is also important to consider your child’s personality when thinking about WTMC.
The one drawback is that they are not allowed to play any of the sports teams at WTMC. They can play ultimate Frisbee, but not any other of WCC’s sports teams. Likewise, they’re not allowed to play high school sports since they do not attend any classes at their high school. My son plays tennis, so that meant that he played community tennis for Ann Arbor Rec and Ed. It was a competitive and was not as time consuming as high school tennis, so it was perfect.
When making a school choice for your children, remember also that what works for one may not be the right choice for another of your children. School for my children was a year to year analysis and prayer time. God always gave us peace about our choice and I know it can happen for you if you’re open to thinking about school outside of the box.