Rowlett High School students now have the opportunity to earn an associate’s degree along with their high school diploma.
According to the district, the College Academy for Technology at Rowlett High School provides students with technical and workplace skills as well as college credit opportunities. While getting their high school diploma, students can earn up to 60 free college hours and have the potential to earn an associate’s degree in gaming or software design.
As part of Garland ISD’s College for All initiative, in the past Lakeview Centennial was the only high school in the district that had a collegiate academy, but this year, the district expanded that to include three other high schools, including Rowlett.
Rowlett’s College Academy for Technology is currently in the process of becoming a Professional Technology Early College High School (P-Tech), which is TEA-certified.
"With TEA recognition that will give a little more clout to the programs, bring in additional industry partners that may have worked with other P-Techs or TEA schools in the past,” said P-Tech Principal Lath Staats. “It also keeps us in line in making sure that we're following through with everything our goals are."
Currently there are 126 students enrolled in Rowlett’s P-Tech.
Magnet advisor Gina Makidon said they try to make the classes smaller so that students in this program can have more one-on-one attention from the teacher. The classroom time is also split between lecture and group work to prepare students for college.
Staats said they've partnered with local and state industry partners and have scheduled field trips for students, like visiting the Google office in Austin.
"We want the kids to know what education can do for them, what they can do with an associate's degree out of high school, whether it's straight into the workforce or building towards finishing their bachelor's within two years,” he said.
Students will also receive certification in G Suite and Microsoft Suite.
"All of our teachers this year will be Google Level 1 and or level 2 certified after year one,” he said. “We want our teachers to receive the same certification as our students to where they can actively help them along the way."
"With the Google G Suite certification that exceeds entry-level technology for most jobs,” he added.
Students in this program can follow one of three pathways. One goes into the direction of interactive simulation and game technology, another toward software programming and developing. These pathways will have students be on campus for the first two years and full-time Richland College students by their junior year. The third pathway is a general associate of science where the credits are 100 percent transferable to any public institution in Texas and beyond. These students will stay at the Rowlett campus all four years, Staats said.
Freshman Alex Perez chose to take the third pathway because he wanted to go into either theater or astrophysics, and neither of those followed the technology pathways. He took his dad’s advice and chose general science so he could get his basic college credits out of the way and focus on his major in college.
"I'm looking forward to being in the general sciences and getting it done,” he said. “I'm also looking forward to just being able to be with my group of friends (in the program)."
This program is free and offered to all students.
"We don't have a process that kids have to test in or apply. We truly want any student that's willing to be a part of the program and willing to work toward it,” Staats said. “We have no prerequisites; we work with each student and tailor their schedule on an individual basis throughout their four years here. We want them to all have that opportunity to receive that associate's and to receive those college credits."