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Published on November 01, 2010

Smedley High School for Healthcareers Gives Students the Opportunity to Earn College Credits

Students in the Smedley High School for Healthcareers in Chester have a new option this year: they can earn 12 college credits at Widener University prior to graduation.

Now in its third year, the Smedley High School for Healthcareers is part of the Chester Upland School District and receives support and collaboration from Crozer-Keystone Health System. The school is dedicated to preparing and motivating students to pursue further education toward a career in the medical sciences. Students participate in classroom-based learning and engage in internships and mentoring programs at Crozer-Keystone hospitals.

“We are pleased with the opportunities that Smedley High School for Healthcareers has provided to these young people. Next year, the first graduating seniors will leave Smedley with a head start on their future,” says Gwen Smith, president of Springfield Hospital and vice president of Community Health Services for Crozer-Keystone.

Angela Thompson, principal of the Smedley High School for Healthcareers, says, “Administration and teachers have mapped out career pathways and tracks for the students with the goal of entering the workforce upon graduation. Students earn an Emergency Medical Technician and Certified Nursing Assistant certificate, and any student who wants to pursue a college education can earn college credits in their junior and senior year of high school.”

Thompson says that interested students are interviewed during their sophomore year. The approval process looks at each student’s grades, standardized test scores and commitment to the program. Once a student is approved to take honors courses and has selected a professional track of education, then they can enroll in the new program with Widener.

Students in the school district are given a standardized test four times during the school year. Smedley students have made huge gains in both math and reading on this test. Since the school’s opening, students have gone from 20 percent to 70 percent proficiency on the test.

With these results, Thompson knew the students had the ability to take on honors classes and college courses and do well. After a conversation with the superintendent about pursung a dual enrollment partnership with Widener University, it was apparent that the school should seek such a partnership.

Emily Richardson, Ph.D., dean of the University College at Widener, oversees the university’s dual enrollment programs with local area high schools. Together with Smedley, Richardson agreed to a dual enrollment plan specific for Smedley students. Students that signed up for honors classes got a surprise call this summer asking them if they wanted to participate in the Widener program.

“These are highly motivated students with a real desire to learn and grow,” Richardson says. “This program shows that youth in Chester can achieve academically with the right opportunities and community support.”   

This first wave of students started classes with Widener on Aug. 30. The courses are available at a discounted price and paid for by the Chester Upland School District. Crozer-Keystone covers the cost of books, supplies and other materials. There are currently 20 students enrolled in the program.

Students are taking English 101 this fall and will take English 102 in the spring. Both courses are held on the Smedley campus. Next year, these same students will take classes on the university’s campus. As seniors, they will have a work roster that will allow them the time needed to attend classes at the university.

Available courses are sociology or psychology in the fall (2011) and introduction to nursing in the spring (2012). These humanity courses are needed for any student looking to enroll in the nursing program at Widener. 

The students have access to the university’s library and other campus-wide support services. Each student has a Widener identification card, e-mail account and access to many other university services.   

“Our students are raising the bar and blazing new pathways for other students in the district. They are on track for success at college and in the workplace. We can only continue to expect great things from the Smedley Healthcareers students,” Thompson says.

For more information about the Smedley High School for Healthcareers, call (610) 499-2840.

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