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WNC Instructors Talk About What Makes Jump Start Special

Posted: May 9, 2017

Parents and students have told us how Jump Start College has impacted them. Now, WNC’s instructors weigh in about working with high school students in this dual-credit program.



JIM STRANGE: The financial and logistical challenges of attending college are greatly reduced. Students who might otherwise struggle to attend college are able to do so, and graduate with a college degree sooner. The program promotes a sense of success among our Jump Start students, teaching them that hard work will pay off in the future. 

The ever-growing visibility of the Jump Start program in our local communities is serving to increase the awareness of college as a viable option in our service area. This will yield wide-ranging, long-term economic and social benefits within our communities.

PENNY MEYERS: It gives students the opportunity to get an associate degree with graduation from high school; many of my students are first generations to finish high school and begin a college path. Partnered with the Latino cohort, support for first- generation high school graduates is both financially supported and culturally supported.

JEFFREY DOWNS: I have two cohorts in Las Vegas that I teach online. It was very meaningful to see how this diverse group of students sacrifices to be part of a program from a distance. To see students grow from not knowing how to take a college exam, to passing a college math class with an A, is a very marvelous achievement.

EMILY HOWARTH: Jump Start is an opportunity! Any student who wants to choose their own path or change the direction they are going will find everything they need in Jump Start. Instead of teaching students “the answers,” this program guides students to ask questions, think things through, practice using resources and to develop the skills they need to function in a high-tech workplace. In most cases, students haven’t experienced this level of accountability and responsibility before, so it is a wonderful experience to hang on with them as they work through the challenges and decide how successful they want to be.



JIM STRANGE: I was out to dinner at a local restaurant for my birthday when I was approached by a recently graduated Jump Start student who worked at the restaurant. It was her last day on the job because she was moving to UNR to continue her college education. She was so thankful for the Jump Start program and the opportunities it had provided for her. She was thrilled that she was well ahead of many of her high school classmates in the college process and looking forward to new experiences at the university. 

DEBORAH MCBRIDE: One day in class, a student shared a personal story about her experience with the topic we were discussing. While she shared her experience, tears rolled down her face. Silence took over the entire classroom, my other students (and myself) were solely focused on what “words” were being spoken. She was so powerful, raw and honest with her words. Her classmates were listening and could feel her emotions, as she spoke her words. This student made a difference that day in class with the discussion. Many students reference her story when writing their papers. She managed to turn the direction of that class discussion into something understandable and real for her classmates, along with (this) teacher as well.  

MARY GILLESPIE: The best story I have relating to Jump Start probably hasn’t happened yet. I suppose one of my favorite interactions involved a student’s email explaining that she and her boyfriend now want to become English majors, which made my heart soar. it really reflects what I love about education — that it can become a single-minded pursuit that will feed a student’s motivation, sense of self-worth and offer them something intangible that could be of greater value than monetary gain.



JENNIFER VERIVE: My best story is to see the success of a student in my EPY 150 class this past fall. He was doing OK in the course but had some challenges — he was a first-gen college student and didn’t have full confidence that his skills were up to par. I reassured him that his proactive concern demonstrated exactly the kind of motivation that led to success in college and in the career he hoped to pursue (becoming a doctor, perhaps a neurosurgeon). I encouraged him to really attend to and embrace the content of the EPY course, which is all about the skills and mindset needed to succeed in college. He did just that. He put full effort into each assignment. His work got stronger, better. He did well in the course and just a couple of weeks ago I saw him in the Nevada Appeal in the Senior Spotlight. I am so proud of his continued persistence and performance! His success story is exactly what we hope for all Jump Start students. 

GREGORY MULDER: My students read Toni Morrison’s novel, “Beloved.” Both the content and the writing style makes this novel difficult to read, which provided my Jump Start students with significant challenges. There were times when I questioned whether this was even a good text to expose them to. Yet, on the final discussion day for the novel, they gave me a pleasant surprise. We conducted a Socratic Seminar, which is a student-led discussion of the text. Each student was required to come up with two or three discussion questions in order to help facilitate the discussion, and I also had many questions at the ready just in case the conversation lagged. Since it’s the students’ job to lead the discussion, I try to remain silent throughout most of the period. When the time came to begin the discussion, I provided a question to get the conversation moving. For the next 50 minutes, I barely said a word. The students ran with my question and other people’s questions throughout the duration of the discussion. They explored different facets of the novel, held informative debates and shared unique insights. By exposing students to college-level texts and discussions while still in the structure of high school, the students are better able to grow academically and creatively. Again, this is the impact I see the Jump Start program having on the student population.  

ERIC YORK: There was a struggling student who worked very hard but for whom the class is difficult. One day, about 4 weeks into the second semester of a year-long sequence, her face literally lit up — positively radiant — and she exclaimed, loudly enough for the entire class to hear, “I get it!” 



ARTHUR KRUPICZ: Jump Start is special because it gives motivated students an undiluted experience of college. While the academic expectations and demands require some adjustment, the freedoms for students are exciting. Jump Start students seem to enjoy open and wide-ranging treatments of topics that are often not addressed fully in high school.

PATRICK MOBLEY: Jump Start is a great way for students to get more bang for their high school experience. Jump Start kids are in a small percentage of students who can effectively look down the road several years and make decisions now that will help them in the future. Their dedication to making the most of the program and meeting the demands put forth to them by all their instructors is impressive. On a more personal level, teaching Jump Start improves my job. I get to work with high-level students who want to be in a program and want to see it succeed. It has increased my morale as a teacher. 

MONICA FAIRBANKS: What has made this program most special to me and beneficial to our students has been the incorporation of classes at the high school. It ensures a consistent connection with the high school activities for these juniors and seniors who would otherwise be completely separated from their high school environment for half of their high school career. It allows these students to remain connected to important high school activities, assemblies and important deadlines and a sense of community at the school.

KIM DESROCHES: I’ve been with the program since its beginning and the most special aspect for me has been witnessing the transition of 16- to 18-year-old high school students to successful college students in a very short period of time. My favorite experience was witnessing students from one of the first cohorts walk with their WNC degrees in 2016.