TCC Introduces Early College School to Campus

Anh Trinh, Editor

In order to give students an opportunity to graduate with an associate degree, the district introduced the Tarrant County College Southeast Mansfield ISD Early College High School at Timberview(ECHS).

“(The) mixture of our demographics are very diverse,” Principal Erica Bennett said. “We make sure we are supporting any student interested in accelerating through high school quickly, students who (are) first generation college goers or need help with alleviating the cost of tuition.”

Graduates from ECHS will be able to enter a four-year university with up to 60 hours of credit.

“Although it has a lot of sacrifices, it is a great opportunity to get ahead and start on my college life,” Din said. “It’s like killing two birds with one stone.”

The Timberview campus was chosen because it had unused classrooms.

“THS was the only high school that had enough space,” she said. “We’ll ultimately (have) 300 to 400 students and It’s close to TCC too so the commute will be short.”

Students merge with Timberview students in the cafeteria, on transportation, during passing periods and on campus.

“It’s cool because I can still see my friends while going on the path I want,” Bradley said. “(I) only see them in the halls or at lunch unless we do clubs together, but it’s good to meet new people too.”

The school was created to hold students’ hands every step of the way.

“The goal is to bring students into a small community so that we can support them,” Bennett said. “Some need that environment because it can be very overwhelming since they’re coming to us as eighth-graders.”

Din said she likes the friendly atmosphere.

“I like my teachers,” she said. “They really do love you and they treat you like a family. We all try to help each other out and create a family environment where everyone knows each other. The only thing different is the expectations of the fact that you are a college student.”

The school does not provide UIL sports but fine arts classes, community sports and intramural sports are offered through TCC.

“It benefits me more to graduate with an associate degree rather than be able to do extracurriculars,” freshman Leah Bradley said.

The selection process includes interviews and a lottery system that randomly chooses eighth-graders from the candidates to attend ECHS.

“We met with all (of) the 120 who applied and got to know them as a person,” Bennett said. “We just tried to make sure that they actually understood the commitment and the workload.”

Once accepted, the students attend a summer bridge program which prepares them to take the Texas Success Initiative (TSI) Assessment, which allows them to take the assessment needed for most TCC college courses.

“I got tips to help refresh my mind and understand the information better,” freshman Ann Din said. “When I took the TSI it was very stressful for me (because) it was timed.”

The test has to be passed by ECHS’ students’ before they start taking most college classes.

“They can take it (TSI) as many times (as) they need to, but there may be some (that) don’t meet the standard,” Bennett said. “We’re introducing TCC courses so (if) they don’t pass then we can’t put them in certain TCC courses in tenth grade.”

The new school does not have the same block schedule as the district. Mondays and Wednesdays are A days while B days are always on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Fridays are focused on core classes and study hall.

“It is time to study and they all need it,” Bennett said. “Even though they have it built inside (their) classes, they’re going to be taking college classes (so) the students’ large workload will increase every year.”

Bradley said she is happy she applied.

“I love that I got the chance to be a part of something amazing and new,” she said. “I just felt like it was made for me. The best thing about ECHS is the people because they accept me for being myself and I don’t have to pretend to be someone I’m not.”