Shortridge students immersed in Butler courses

Juniors from Shortridge Magnet High School for Law and Public Policy are participating in an early college program this fall that involves a partnership with Butler University.

These 11 students are enrolled in one of six different courses that meet every Tuesday and Thursday morning, and they can earn between 12 and 15 college credits before they graduate high school.

Mary Ramsbottom, associate provost for student academic affairs, has been one of the key developers of the early college program since its proposal.
“The purpose of the program is to give select students at Shortridge the opportunity to earn college credit,” Ramsbottom said, “and to experience courses on a college campus in terms of the rigor, expectations and being around a degree-seeking student body.”

After a temporary closure during the 1980s to restructure the school, Shortridge reopened in 2009 as a magnet high school through a partnership with Butler as part of the Shortridge Initiative.

“The program’s intent is not to push Butler on these students,” Ramsbottom said.

Credits earned through the program are not only accepted at Butler but also at other institutions at their discretion.

Of the 21 students who applied to be part of the program, 12 were accepted and 11 currently are participating.

Jay Howard, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, has some of the Shortridge juniors in one of the social world courses he teaches.

Howard said the students seem to be adapting well to the campus environment.

Prior to beginning their classes, students briefly met with the six instructors involved in the program.

Professor Matt Maurer, who also has Shortridge juniors in his “Introduction to Computers in Education” course, said the meeting was a way to help the students understand the program.

“[It was] a very useful activity,” Maurer said. “We got a sense of them, and they got a sense of us.”

The growth of greater diversity was one of instructor Janis Crawford’s initial thoughts when she first heard about ECP early last spring.

She has two students in her “Rhetoric and the American Democracy” course in which students learn about public speaking and politics.

Crawford said this process is an exciting way to get Indiana public school students more involved  with Butler and other statewide universities.

“[The program will] bring a diverse perspective to campus ,because the average Indianapolis Public Schools student is not coming from the same social angle as our Butler scholars,” Howard said.

There is a mutual feeling of hope among the people who are involved with the program.

“I hope it continues and evolves over time. Nothing you do the first time is perfect,” Maurer said. “It’s our job to learn what is working and what isn’t and to adjust so that it works better.”

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