Lance Scranton: Paths that take a different turn
This week hundreds of teachers from across the United States and Canada are spending five days in Denver to shore up the concepts and importance of Advanced Placement classes in high school. Moffat County High School has been offering these College Board classes for the past five years, which students can begin taking in their freshman year.
Along with concurrent enrollment classes offered through Colorado Northwestern Community College, our local high school offers enough challenge and rigor to students that can help them gain advantage as they move on to college. In a town that generally puts practicality at the top of the list when making decisions, I have been asked more than a few times why students should bother taking these types of classes. Wouldn’t it make more sense to enroll in regular classes and maintain a high grade point average instead of risking a grade in a class that is more challenging and quite a bit more rigorous?
The only answer that makes sense to me is that each student and parent has to determine what is best for their educational future, but I always make sure I share my story with them as they are making a decision. I graduated from high school in Canada with a vocational diploma and began work as an automotive mechanic and then an aircraft mechanic. Each involved an apprenticeship and also gave me the opportunity to realize that the career I was certain I wanted to enter as a high school student wasn’t what I thought it would be.
Not having a guaranteed college-preparation diploma from my high school alma mater meant that if I wanted to pursue a college education, I would have to wait until I was 21 years old, pass some tests, and apply for consideration into a university. Fortunately, I was able to parlay my athletic ability into an athletic scholarship to a few colleges in the United States. Opportunities to explore other possible careers was what athletics did for me and provided me with the resources to realize the proverbial American Dream.
Had I not been given access to college because of my athletic ability, I never would have gone to college or earned a degree. I had no idea when I was 18 years old that I wouldn’t like being a mechanic and that college was going to be the avenue for me to become a teacher and a coach, which had always been a dream but one that I never thought I would realize.
Sitting in classes this week here in Denver reinforces for me the idea that students should take every opportunity to apply the skills and concepts that our high school offers. Maybe college isn’t on their radar, but the challenges of a rigorous curriculum can help students discover something about themselves that they might not have otherwise realized. We all have hopes, dreams, and desires, and I hope that by providing opportunities for all high school students to challenge themselves, teachers can truly serve our community by helping those we teach realize the limitless possibilities that a high school education provides for their future.