School College Partnerships changing lives, inspiring students

April 14, 2022

There are many pathways students take to get to Georgian. Two of those pathways are offered through School College Partnerships. Programs run across our campuses designed to provide opportunities for students, many disengaged in high school, to explore the college environment.

School College Partnerships: programs

Dual credit: Students take a course taught by a Georgian faculty member that counts toward their high school diploma and is also recognized at college if they choose to attend a program for which it’s a requirement. The program is a chance to sample postsecondary education and build confidence.

School Within a College (SWAC): Students complete their high school diploma at a Georgian campus, taking a dual credit, one common high school course as a class, and completing remaining credits through independent learning, online courses, credit recovery, or co-op.

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Persistence and determination

Bailey Simone lost a friend to suicide in Grade 9. That shock led to what the 17-year-old describes as really poor decisions like skipping school, plummeting grades and defying her family. 

“I was then diagnosed with bipolar, depression and PTSD,” Bailey explains. “With the proper supports, I had to learn how to deal with my issues. However, this didn’t define me; it’s a special part of my story.”

Bailey nervously applied to join SWAC at the Barrie Campus.

“I enjoy many things about this program,” Bailey says. “I like that I’m treated like an adult and have been made accountable for my work and my learning. I’ve already been successful in one college course and am currently on my second one. This will give me an advantage when I start college.”

Rosa Bitonti, one of her teachers, has proudly supported Bailey’s growth in the program.

“School Within a College and the dual credit program were built for a student like Bailey,” Rosa says. “She’s true testament that hard work, determination and perseverance can pay off and that there’s hope on the other side.”

The confidence instilled in Bailey through her experience in the program has led her to consider a career in health care.

“The SWAC program changed my life and gave me opportunities I’m so grateful for,” says Bailey. “With the support of my family and staff, I’m looking forward to my future education to become successful in life!”

Great motivation

In Grade 11, Alysha van Gaalen started caring less about school and began to slack off. Fortunately, her secondary guidance counsellors were aware of the advantages of the SWAC program. Alysha was accepted and will be forever grateful.

“It absolutely changed things for me; things went uphill from there,” she says. “It’s an amazing program, and ideal for people who don’t enjoy the traditional school environment. It’s awesome that we have another option.”

While in SWAC at the Owen Sound Campus, Alysha took advantage of a free OCAS application and staff support to apply to postsecondary. She chose the Esthetician program at the Barrie Campus. 

Because she took two general education credits while in SWAC that would apply to college, she had a head start coming to a full-time program.

“Without it, I wouldn’t be who I am today or gotten where I am,” she reflects. “Before, I was hard on myself, thinking I couldn’t do things, but it really boosted my confidence. Being in a college setting helped a lot. It was nice to have some background knowledge on how things worked and what to expect. I was already a college student; I just transferred.”

Alysha graduated high school in June 2018, went to college that fall, and after finishing the two-year Esthetics program in 2020, signed on for a graduate certificate program in Medical Skin Care Therapies at Georgian.  

Two months after graduating, she started her career at a medical spa in Southampton. Her training allows her to provide services to clients that include chemical peels, medical grade facials, along with laser hair and tattoo removal. 

She appreciates the motivation the program provided: “The teachers in the program pushed me to do better. They noticed that I accomplished things, encouraged me, and helped me with so many things outside of school work. I am so thankful!”​​​​​​​

Headed down a new path

Twenty-one-year-old Tyea Romas is currently working on a bachelor’s degree in Community Mental Health. If you suggested she’d be in this position four years ago, she wouldn’t have believed you. 

Tyea is a former crown ward who lived in foster homes and didn’t see postsecondary education in her future.

That all changed when she took a dual credit through Georgian. A Lifestyle Management course led Tyea down a different path.

“I didn’t know that college was possible for me. I had no idea of what to do,” she says. “Going to the dual credit was like, wow, I want to break the cycle of foster care. It truly motivated me to change my life. I loved my dual credit experience.”

Tyea gained a 91 per cent in the dual credit course and a new perspective. She completed high school as an Ontario Scholar, received honours in her Child and Youth Care diploma at another college, and moved on to the degree program she will finish in 2023. 

This summer she will work with the York Region Children’s Aid Society helping parents whose children have been placed in care learn the skills necessary to reunite their families.

“I hope my experience brings comfort to kids in care and provides insight to the challenges and barriers of living in foster care,” Tyea says. “Knowing there are parents who want to work to get their kids back and have positive relationships is incredible to me.”

This all started with a guidance counsellor who suggested a dual credit would be a good option for Tyea.

“I’m really proud of what I’ve accomplished at this age,” she says. “Dual credit is the reason. It helps you understand that college is attainable. I truly can’t believe how far I have come in breaking the cycle. I give credit to the dual credit program. It really does work.”

The dual credit program piloted in 2005. Since then, it’s grown 361 students across Ontario to more than 25,000 – including 1,000+ at Georgian.

Know someone who could benefit from School College Partnerships?

Encourage them to reach out to their high school guidance counsellor or student success teacher.

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