At first glance it may look like a typical classroom at Scarborough High School, but at the head of the class is a college professor. “I tell them that when they enter this room it is not Scarborough High School but Houston Community College,” said HCC Professor Suni Diaz.
Diaz and other professors from HCC are teaching HISD students this summer as part of the Houston Innovative Learning Zone (HILZ) academies that opened this month at Scarborough and five other campuses, including the Long School, Furr, Kashmere, Sterling, and Booker T. Washington high schools. The new academies offer students career training as well as the opportunity to earn career certifications and a college associate’s degree.
“It has all the benefits of college and it’s free,” said James Jackson, who is taking his first college class this summer as part of Scarborough’s HILZ Academy for Network and Computer Administration. “It was an amazing opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.”
Jackson’s classmate Candace Puente agrees. She’s hoping the program will give her a taste of what college is really like. “I think it’s really going to help understand the demands of college, and I’m going to get a head start on my higher education.”
The HILZ academies at all six schools are specifically tailored to meet the current and future needs of Houston’s thriving industries, which include the fields of medicine, shipping, energy, manufacturing, and computer technology. A minimum of 15 hours of college credits earned by HILZ graduates will come in core courses and will be transferable to any public Texas university.
“Students will leave here with the potential to get a job earning a decent amount of money or they can continue their college education, said Scarborough Assistant Principal Glenda Calloway. “It’s a win-win situation, especially for many of our students who believed college was not an option for them because of financial barriers.”
The HILZ program is enrolling for the 2012-2013 school year. Click here for more information.