Glen Rose Independent School District administrators are setting high hopes for upcoming high school students. Superintendent Wayne Rotan and high school principal Tommy Corcoran are expanding the dual credit and technical certification programs.

“We would like every student that graduates to have 40 hours through dual credit or a technical certification,” Rotan said.

Current Glen Rose High School students can pick from 30 hours offered through the dual credit program, not counting the 15 available through Advanced Placement (AP) courses. But unlike AP courses, where students earn credit for a class through testing, students in dual credit courses earn college hours by covering college course material as if they were sitting at a university desk.

“It’s a win/win deal for our kids,” Corcoran said. “I’d be willing to bet we rival 5A schools in what we offer dual credit wise.”

The program is offered through a partnership with Hill College. Students pay out of district tuition costs, which runs around $291 for a three-hour course, plus books. Parents will shell out approximately $709 for the same class at Texas A&M University, or $552 at Tarleton State University. Parents hoping to send their student to a private school like Baylor University can expect to foot $3,261 for the exact same course. Not to mention the cost of textbooks and additional fees.

“Parents realize the opportunity to get the college hours and are able to get the money together,” Corcoran said.

And the credits earned in high school will transfer to any Texas state funded university. Corcoran said each private university is different, but most will accept the credits. He recommends that students who know they want to go to a specific university call to make sure the credits will transfer.

“It’s still a good deal, a good opportunity for kids to get their feet wet,” Rotan said.

Beginning with their junior year of high school, students can start working on core curriculum requirements and potentially start out as a college sophomore.

Rotan said that even though Glen Rose graduates start out with college credits, he has not had a student loose out on any scholarship money traditionally reserved for incoming freshman.

Students testing out college courses in high school can sound like a lot of stress at first. But, here, students can work with teachers they know and receive one-on-one help for tougher university material. Also, parents can keep a closer eye on the new college students, receiving three-week reports and making sure they actually go to class.

Paige Sharber is just one success story from the budding dual credit program already in place at GRHS. She graduated in May 2006 and was accepted to Texas A&M University.

When she left Glen Rose, Sharber had 38 college hours under her belt through the dual credit program.

“These classes helped prepare me for college in so many ways,” Sharber said. “Dual credit courses really helped bridge the gap between high school level classes and college level classes because they allow students to easily transition to harder course material and less tests than high school level courses offer.”

Sharber received a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Communications and Journalism when she graduated in August 2008 - just two years after leaving high school.

“Since I graduated, I have worked as a T.V. news producer and now work for a nonprofit grant foundation,” Sharber said. “Having a college degree to hang on my wall is very important, but having the work experience to back it up is even more important. Since I am able to be part of the working world at such a young age, I am gaining more experience and skills than other people my age who are still in college.”

Sharber also said having college experience before going to a big university like A&M, helped her narrow down her field of interest and focus on selecting a major.

“When I went to A&M after graduating high school, I had already taken all the basics, which allowed me to take more specific courses that were in my major than freshman normally take,” Sharber said. “The basics at a big university like Texas A&M - math, science, English and history - are designed to weed out the students who are not fully prepared for college.”

“No matter how smart your kid might be, every parent should encourage their student to take advantage of dual credit at GRHS because it’s a one of a kind opportunity that not many kids get,” Sharber said, adding that she only met one other student from South Texas who had dual credit experience.

Both Rotan and Corcoran understand that not every high school student is interested in going to college; that’s why they also decided to expand the technical certification program.

Rotan said during a meeting with Luminant CEO John F. Young, with an $8 billion infrastructure protect looming, Young’s biggest concern was finding skilled labor, specifically welders.

So with Luminant’s help and donation of needed welding equipment, a welding program will help train the welder’s of tomorrow.

“If we can get them welding certification, there’s a job opportunity,” Rotan said.

“We’re putting a program together that can really help our community,” Corcoran said.

The students will study at the high school campus with a high school teacher and will take the welding test at Hill College

A radiation protection program will also be part of the new technical certification program.

Students interested in cosmetology will also be able to work towards their certification at GRHS through Hill College. Students will take regular classes on campus before heading to Hill in the afternoons to get their cosmetology hours.

Any student interested in a career in the health care industry can also get a jumpstart next year. Students can become a certified nurse’s aide (CNA) before graduating high school. They can go on to become a licensed vocational nurse (LVN) after graduation or eventually become a registered nurse (RN).

“We want our kids to graduate with options,” said Dianne Habluetzel, curriculum director.