Henderson school putting students on college path

Posted October 9, 2015

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— A Henderson school dedicated to recruiting low-income students is preparing them for college and career at a much higher rate than most Vance County schools.

Henderson Collegiate launched a few years ago – it won't produce its first graduates until 2019 – but 71 percent of its students meet state standards for being college- or career-ready on end-of-grade and end-of-course tests.

By comparison, Vance Charter School is at 54.5 percent college- and career-ready, and Vance County public schools are at 28 percent.

"If we really want more from our kids, if we want them to be on track for college, if we want them to do more than just exist or have their head above water, then we need to be able to put more to reach that end," said Eric Sanchez, co-founder and executive director of Henderson Collegiate.

Ninety-eight percent of the school's students are minority, and most come from low-income homes in neighborhoods where college is seldom an option.

"What we are doing every day is changing paradigms. Our teachers, our staff, everyone is working relentlessly to change the trajectory of our students," said Cari Sanchez, school co-founder and dean of instruction.

Henderson Collegiate students call themselves teammates and are grouped into "prides" based on the year they plan to leave for college.

"I wish that every person had that opportunity, that every person was able to come here, but I just feel like I'm lucky," eighth-grader Ian Simmons said.

The Sanchezes say their goal is redefining what people think is possible for economically disadvantaged children.

"When they are in an environment and they know that their destiny is not determined by their race or their family's income, they know that being smart is a choice." Cari Sanchez said.

Eighth-grader Lazariah Harris said he has already made the choice that a college degree is a mandatory minimum for her education.

"Knowing that I'm definitely going to college makes me feel really good inside," Harris said. "It makes my teachers proud of me, and it makes me proud of me."


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