“All of us together, through eHigh, have formed a huge parachute, and we have caught 90 kids,” — McKinney North High School Associate Principal Jae Gaskill.
In a time when a high school diploma is the ticket to so many of life’s opportunities, it is nice to know there is a group of people who are working hard to help students who might otherwise fall through the cracks.
This was evident at an MISD School Board meeting last Fall when the principals of all three McKinney high schools, along with eHigh Learning Leader Harvey Oaxaca and members of the eHigh staffs, made a detailed presentation on the transformation of the LINC Center into “eHigh” programs at each high school.
eHigh is a program for students who have fallen behind in their class credits due to a variety of circumstances: illness, a learning difference, moving, pregnancy, failing grades or even a financial need to work during a part of the school day. Some students simply perform poorly in the traditional desks-all-in-a-row, listen-to-the-teacher classroom setting. Each high school campus has a dedicated space for the eHigh program that is less formal than the regular classroom.
Through eHigh, each student receives an individualized education plan that allows them to close the gaps in their credits. eHigh students work at their own pace with the help of teachers, counselors, mentors or other resources they need to get the work done. eHigh’s goal is for every student to graduate under the District’s Recommended Plan, which requires more credits than the Minimum Plan.
Without eHigh, many students would not have the ability to make up those missing credits to earn their high school diplomas. Finishing high school with the full credits will pay off for graduates both in job prospects and success in higher education.
Students are able to complete their coursework either online, or in the classroom with teachers who can give them individualized attention. Some students may have only one or two classes to complete and may graduate at any time during the year. Others may have more than a year of classes, but want to accelerate their learning so they can walk across the graduation stage with their classmates.
The former LINC program (Learning In a New Context) provided the same resources, but on a separate campus that served only LINC students. There were LINC supporters who did not want the LINC campus closed, but MISD says it made the decision to move those services to the campuses due to the budget cuts.
McKinney High School Principal Stewart Herrington told the Board eHigh is able to provide all the benefits provided at LINC, plus addition benefits because the students are located on their home campuses with their friends where they can participate in the regular high school activities — football games, social activities, extracurricular activities and electives such as band, orchestra, choir, etc.
Herrington said he keeps a graduation robe hanging on the wall of his office. When he visits with students, he tells them, “I have one of these that will fit you. I have one of those funny little square hats, too, and I want to see you wearing it June 1 when we’re walking across the stage.”
With the hard work of the eHigh staff and students, 90 young men and woman are well on their way to turning a rough spot in the road into a bright future.
Photos below: Members of the eHigh team, eHigh Learning Leader Harvey Oaxaca