Gift exposes more students to Butler

Butler University’s Early College Program has received a gift of $8,300 from the Central Indiana Teachers Credit Union, which will help expose select juniors and seniors from Shortridge Magnet High School to a college classroom environment.

Presented on Feb. 15, this amount covers the cost of one student going through the program both semesters of his or her junior and senior years of high school.

The program started in the fall of 2011 with significant gifts and grants from donors such as the Ruth Lilly Philanthropic Foundation, PNC Bank, the Hoover Family Foundation and now the Teachers Credit Union, said Lori Norris, senior director of corporate and foundation relations.

“We are always very pleased to have new partners that are sharing our commitment to issues of access to higher education and completion of college degrees by Indiana citizens who are historically underrepresented in those places,” said Mary Macmanus Ramsbottom, associate provost for student academic affairs and administrative liaison and director for ECP.

This program is just one part of a partnership between Butler, Shortridge and the elementary Laboratory School, Ramsbottom said.

The program is designed to have as many as 12 students in the junior group and 12 students in the senior group each semester.

Along with one academic course, first-semester juniors take a supplemental semester course on study skills, higher-level thinking and critical reasoning.  Seniors partake in a supplemental non-credit College Admission Prep Seminar.

College courses that the high school students have taken are 100- and 200-level courses and range in subjects from Texts and Ideas and Perspectives in the Creative Arts courses to business calculus and language courses.

If students admitted their junior year take a class all four semesters, they could leave with as many as 13 to 15 transferable college credits toward their college degree, Ramsbottom said.

“It’s awakening the students to all the options that are out there,” said Emily Burke, ECP adviser and teacher of the study skills Strategies for Success course. “With this program, Butler was looking at making sure that not only did these students see college as accessible but also as something that they can be successful at.”

Students who can apply are selected by Shortridge and must be pursuing the Indiana Academic Honors Diploma.

Once they send in an application, students are selected by criteria similar to what college admission applications look like, Burke said.

Students’ selection to be in the program comes at no cost to them, their families or Shortridge. Money from the various gifts and grants

cover the costs of books, supplies and tuition for the classes, Burke said.

Administration from   Indianapolis Public Schools works on the transportation for the students so they can get to Butler’s campus in their allotted time for the scheduled courses.

Select juniors have classes Tuesday and Thursday from 9:35 – 10:50 a.m., and selected seniors have courses scheduled on Monday, Wednesday and Friday (and also Tuesday for four-credit-hour courses) from 10 – 10:50 a.m. and 11 – 11:50 am.

Burke said this most recent gift comes at a very good time because officials are in the process of selecting next year’s group of students.

However, Ramsbottom said they are discussing how to distribute the gift, perhaps designating one student as the Teachers Credit Union scholar.

“The reason it’s taking some thought is that we don’t require students when they’re admitted in the program to come every semester,” Ramsbottom said.  “What we want is intentional choices that work well for students.”

Burke said as their admission process wraps up for next year, they will look closer into the scholarship options and how they will be best administered to students.

Ramsbottom said most of the students have stayed each semester.

Four of the seven seniors who have been with the program since fall 2011 have participated in classes for their full four semesters, Burke said.  Another senior stepped out for one semester and returned after that.

Burke said they are looking at seven students applying for the senior group and about the same number for the junior group.

Seven or eight current juniors are continuing on as seniors, which realistically leaves four to five open spots for new seniors.

Since ECP started in fall 2011, 23 individuals have been enrolled.

“We are looking for many ways in which we can go beyond our small ECP cohort and reach out and make an impact and a difference for a larger group of students at Shortridge,” Ramsbottom said.

This year, Shortridge is having its first senior class graduate since 1981, when it closed its doors.  The school operated as Shortridge Middle School in 1984 and reopened in 2009 as a high school magnet program.

With that, the seniors who are graduating will be the first ECP group to graduate.

Ramsbottom said they are excited to have their first ECP group graduate and will have a celebration event at Butler with donors, faculty from Butler and IPS, and the students and their families on May 15.


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