The ACA Capstone Project
Last year, in the Reynolds Advance College Academy (ACA) at J.R. Tucker High School, the senior-year faculty in BIO 101/102, PSY 200/230, PLS 211/212, and ENG 244/242 devised a months-long project for their shared cohort of 45 students across their four spring courses. Using one of the selections of the Reynolds "Around the World through Books" series, Kevin Bales' Blood and Earth, faculty members asked 15 trios of students to annotate and research their choice of biological, psychological, or political content in Bales' book.
After all 45 students shared their findings anonymously, highlights from each disciplinary focus were determined from votes received in a "hive mind" poster session. The 15 trios were then reshuffled into three groups of 15 by discipline. Each group presented a multimodal presentation on the book for the live audience at the book discussion in the WDCC Gallery. Through division of labor, each group decided roles for themselves (speakers, visual content curators, researchers, timers, etc.) and all fielded questions.
The project taught a large cohort of graduating Reynolds ACA students to work together for a common goal of making intensive research public and accessible. As a capstone, it showed how three scientific disciplines (biology, political science, and psychology) are interrelated, even though each uses distinct discursive practices. Finally, it brought together teaching professionals from four distinct subject areas to forge an integrated assignment of unprecedented ambition and scope. The project was repeated again this spring by the Class of 2018.
Congratulations to both classes for raising the Advance College Academy model to the next level!
This past week the Early College Academy was featured in a WTVR CBS6 news video and article. We welcome the opportunity to shine this spotlight on the successes of all of our teachers, staff and students. Here is the link to the feature:
Recently, we asked Richmond Public Schools students in our Early College Academy (ECA) about their experience thus far as juniors and seniors. Their words echo what we hear consistently from all of our college academy students during and after their involvement with the programs.
Here are some of their testimonials:
“I’m able to do this with my friends by my side; they motivated me throughout this whole journey and get to walk across the stage with me.”
“The most rewarding part will be seeing my momma and dad after graduation and knowing how proud they are of me.”
“I get to take advantage of an opportunity that I know isn’t available to most people my age.”
“This program has helped me gain the skills and mindset I need for the real world: no excuses when it comes to getting what’s needed to be done, done.”
“I feel like I’ve grown in areas of time management and communication skills. I had trouble public speaking, but thanks to this program, I’ve conquered my fears.”
“I feel this program has prepared me for a college environment. It’s forced me to have a positive attitude and always put my best foot forward.”
“I’ve learned how to be vulnerable. There were moments where I felt lost and tried to do everything on my own, but I had to learn how to ask for help. Whether it’s with instructions or clarity on assignments, I’ve learned to humble myself and ask the person next to me.”
“This is the greatest opportunity I've been presented with in my life and I would like to take advantage of it fully.”
“This group of professors and peers have become a huge part of my life and I want us all to succeed together.”
“I want to continue ECA because I enjoy coming here. I've made many friends, and really adapted to this environment.”
“I feel like this is where I belong. The maturity level is great and it has taught me a lot of information that I did not know before that is helping me now. For instance, how to write a particular paper, how to study and do my notes.”
“The reasons I want and plan to continue in the program is because of the work environment, professors, and the people. The work environment is very active, productive, professional and positive.”
Brandon Lambert, graduate of the Reynolds ACA at Highland Springs HS in the Class of 2017 with an Associate Degree in Business Administration, is an 18-year-old second-semester sophomore with a huge head start at Virginia Tech, having transferred 56 credits from the ACA toward his Bachelors degree in Business Management.
He's also nationally known in the dual enrollment community, thanks to his recent appearance in Washington, DC, at the annual convention of the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP). Brandon served on a panel with two other dual enrollment alums from Colorado and Maryland, who together addressed more than 800 attendees from all over the country last Monday morning at the conference's plenary session.
NACEP Executive Director, Adam Lowe, had been so impressed by Brandon when he visited Highland Springs HS last spring that he invited him to the conference and provided funding for his travel and lodging in DC.
Brandon wowed the crowd and his interviewer, Dr. Kim Hunter Reed, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education (pictured above), with his usual eloquence and poise. Asked what he appreciated most about his four years in the Reynolds ACA at Highland Springs HS, Brandon said, "It was a gift to spend four years pursuing the same goal with seventeen other motivated, like-minded people." Dr. Reed's last question to Brandon asked him to share some final thoughts with the throng of nearly a thousand dual enrollment educators and administrators. "What you do every day makes a difference," Brandon said. "You are changing people's lives."
Needless to say, Brandon's words elicited a standing ovation.
Watch Brandon's interview here (go to the 38-minute mark).
Brandon is all smiles after his triumphant appearance (pictured here with his proud Site Director from the Reynolds ACA at Highland Springs HS, Allen Riddle, at left, and the Executive Director of NACEP, Adam Lowe, at right).
The following is the kind of letter we like to get from our ACA alums:
Hi Ms. T and Ms. Blackman!
How are y'all doing? I just wanted to check in and ask about a few things for this coming fall and give a quick update about what I have been up to!
I am currently still in South Africa through one of Stanford's study abroad programs. While exploring Cape Town I am taking classes on the implications of foreign aid in developing countries, the business climate in Africa, the relationship between social and ecological systems in an informal settlement, and contemporary issues concerning race politics and economic inequality in the context of South Africa. I also took a field-trip based course that explored topics of colonialism and the curation of historical sites. I believe this whole experience has developed me into a more rounded student with interests among many fields of study.
One of the most meaningful experiences has been my internship working with Codespace, a non-profit organization working to teach young girls how to code. This experience has helped me gain traction on what I want to do with my time at Stanford and beyond. I am currently pursuing a Computer Science degree with an education minor and hopefully will work towards teaching computer science in underserved communities. I also have found a passion for increasing diversity in the STEM field among women and underrepresented minorities as well as increasing access to higher education.
I'm emailing y'all today because I'll be returning home to Richmond on September 2. I don't leave for school until Sept 21st and was hoping I would be able provide my assistance for the two weeks that I will be home. I was wondering if there were any opportunities to mentor any of the students and assist them with college applications or finding internships for the spring! I'm willing to help in any way possible, so please reach out if there is anything I can do to further the success of the program or Tucker in general. I'd love to stay involved with the ACA program and help students develop.
With lots of love and warm wishes,
Epilogue: For two weeks in September, as promised, Jomo met individually with all 43 Reynolds ACA 11th graders at J.R. Tucker HS, counseling them on their next two years in the ACA and beyond. We’re proud of Jomo for being our first ACA grad to attend Stanford University. We’re even prouder to see him “paying forward” his experience in the ACA to those students who are destined to follow in his footsteps.
Congratulations to one of our most treasured faculty members in the Reynolds ACA, English Professor at Highland Springs HS, Ms. Lee Naughton, who was surprised by the governor on Monday with news she had been named the Teacher of the Year for the entire Richmond Region. Ms. Naughton teaches ENG 111, 112, 244, and 242 for Reynolds and serves both juniors and seniors in the Reynolds ACA at Highland Springs HS. Read more about the special event here.
Way to go, Lee, and way to go, Springer Nation!
The first three graduating classes of the Reynolds ACA have numbered 34, 39, and 63, for a total of 136 students whose lives and futures have been forever transformed by earning an Associate Degree concurrent with high school graduation.
In May, 2018, we look forward to nearly doubling our all-time total of graduates, as we celebrate the fourth graduating cohort from J.R. Tucker HS, the second from Highland Springs HS, the first from Goochland HS and Powhatan HS, and the first from the Early College Academy (featured in the blog post below).
Meet those prospective graduates and find out about their college and career interests at the following links below:
The Reynolds ACA at J.R.Tucker HS
The Reynolds ACA at Highland Springs HS
The Reynolds ACA at Goochland HS
The Reynolds ACA at Powhatan HS
The Reynolds ECA serving Richmond Public Schools
The newest Reynolds College Academy is completing its first year of college coursework on our Downtown Campus. Students from various Richmond Public Schools have been taking classes every morning since last August as part of the Early College Academy (ECA). These students are on pace to graduate in May, 2018, with their Associate of Science Degree in Social Sciences. Meet the students by watching the video here!
Check out this recent story from WRIC Channel 8's Positively Richmond series:
Congratulations to our latest Reynolds ACA alums. We can't wait to see what you'll do next!
For more, see the Colleges and Universities tab at our website.
The sky's the limit!
Thanks to our ACA Career Coach at Goochland HS, Taylor Reahard, for this fantastic recent post to her blog with loads of info on the current policies on credit transfer at a variety of four-year colleges and universities.
Tomorrow night (Wed., Mar. 29th) at Reynolds, in Lipman Auditorium on the Parham Road Campus, come hear from several admissions reps from around the commonwealth about their institutions' policies on transferring credits earned through dual enrollment..
Welcome to the Reynolds College Academy Director's Blog, where you'll find news about alums, current students, and faculty in the Reynolds Advance College