SHERIDAN — Together, everyone achieves more.
And the team mentality between Sheridan County School District 2 and Sheridan College has a record of success, as students continue to receive free-to-them college education while still in high school.
Dual and concurrent enrollment participation numbers have increased nearly 100% since the programs' first years at Sheridan High School and John C. Schiffer Collaborative High School and have expanded into the county, as well, with Tongue River High School students earning associate degrees before their high school diploma.
“I think five, six years ago, we could count the students participating on one hand,” SCSD2 Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Assessment Mitch Craft said in an annual joint meeting between the district and Sheridan College. “Truly, on one hand. Last year, 95 kids.”
In the 2019-2020 school year, a total of 95 dual-enrollment students earned 550 college credits at a Sheridan College tuition value of $76,450 and textbook cost of $14,635. SCSD2 pays for dual enrollment, including books, and allows students to attend college classes on the Sheridan College campus.
In the same year, 319 concurrent-enrollment students enrolled in 534 courses and earned 1,622 college credits for a Sheridan College tuition value of $225,458, paid for by SCSD2 and not the students. SHS offers 18 concurrent enrollment classes and plans to add three for the 2021-2022 school year: human biology and two woodworking classes.
“One of the greatest benefits in addition to the financial benefit is that our students get a taste of college,” Craft said. “You’ll hear this from Sheridan High School kids as well as Schiffer kids how they may not have seen themselves as college bound. It may not have been something they thought as a possibility, but they take a dual enrollment course, they take a concurrent enrollment course and they’re successful.
“...It changes their view. They start to see themselves as college bound and they realize, ‘I can do this,’” Craft said.
Schiffer students currently attend high school directly on the Sheridan College campus in its buildings. Construction crews anticipate completing construction of a separate building for the Schiffer school mid-May, with teachers moving in to the building in August and students attending in the fall.
SCSD2 Superintendent Craig Dougherty said Sheridan College’s willingness to work with SCSD2 has played a large part in the success of local students.
“The bricks and mortar are going to be great, but quite frankly, the relationship that our kids have on that campus, and what it did to those kids, and what you allowed us to do, is transformational for that population,” Dougherty said.