ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - 05/14/2019 Press Release from Albemarle County Public Schools:

(ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Virginia) – High school seniors who attend Albemarle County Public Schools’ self-directed learning center, Center I at Seminole Place, will be able to earn up to 16 college credits in English, Government, and Information Technology courses next year as the result of a new Early College Learning Experience being offered at the center.

In partnership with Piedmont Virginia Community College (PVCC), college classes will be taught at Center I by PVCC adjunct professors on a college schedule. Much like collegians, students will manage their weekly schedules, providing them with the flexibility to also pursue such work-based learning experiences as internships or part-time employment or to choose additional course work.

Michael Craddock, whose experience as an educator includes the development of an award-winning computer science program at Monticello High School, has been appointed as the Center’s first director. Craddock currently oversees the Virtual Learning and Career and Technical Education programming for all of the division’s schools as a Lead Coach.

“This Early College Learning Experience compliments the highly successful self-directed learning opportunities that unfolded for students this year at Center I,” Craddock said. “We’re giving time back to students so they can pursue learning and development opportunities that appeal to them, all while completing their high school graduation requirements and earning college credits,” he said.

Billed as a “center for innovation and invention,” Center I opened last August and serves 21 seniors in a pilot program. Students build a portfolio of work that demonstrates their learning experiences across disciplines. Portfolios can be presented to earn a course credit and/or can apply as evidence of learning toward other classes.

An example, Craddock said, is a student who combined a strong interest in science with her artistic skills to design, write and publish a book for patients at UVA’s Children’s Hospital. She later credited her learning experience with helping make it possible for her to earn a presidential scholarship at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

“This is a perfect demonstration of what can result when you give students more flexibility to design their own curriculum and to match their passions and interests to a career path that appeals to them,” Craddock said.

Participation at Center I is only part of a student’s overall schedule; students still have access to additional coursework at their base high school as part of an alternating day rotation. Center I students also continue to be eligible to participate in extracurricular activities and events at their base school.

Following a successful pilot year and based upon demand, the school division is expanding Center I enrollment to serve as many as 60 students. Any student who will be a senior this August at any one of the division’s four high schools is eligible to attend the center. Students should consult with their school counselor if they would like to know more about the center experience or to register their interest.

“We see this and future centers as being closely aligned with the competitive environment students will face when they graduate from our schools,” Craddock said. “Center I is intentionally located in a business and industrial complex to facilitate opportunities for our students to interact with and learn from successful businesses. We will follow the same criteria for locating future centers,” he added.