The relationship between GW and the School Without Walls stretches beyond the two institutions’ similar addresses.
The partnership with School Without Walls allows the on-campus high school to take part in graduate teaching internship programs, undergraduate tutor sessions and guest lectures from University faculty. GW even gave $12 million to SWW to renovate its interior.
The most notable development in the GW-SWW saga is a dual enrollment program, launched in 2009. It allows high school students who are juniors or seniors to take free classes at the University. After two years, they receive an associate’s degree and can transfer their credits to any institute of higher learning.
When education experts consider the best ways to improve D.C.’s ailing public schools system, the successful relationship between GW and SWW should not be overlooked. The teaching and tutoring at SWW, coupled with GW’s enthusiastic support, has made it one of the most successful public schools in D.C. The school boasts a 100-percent graduation rate and a 100-percent college attendance rate, along with some of the highest test scores in the city. This symbiotic relationship enhances the educational and professional experiences of both the University and the high school.
GW’s venture with the high school reminds us of the University’s influence throughout the city. The dual enrollment program, which the University of the District of Columbia hopes to regulate, serves to make higher education more attainable and affordable by providing students access to the resources and tools of post-secondary education. This model should certainly be expanded and further emulated, as it narrows the divide between urban public schools and higher education.
In a school district where many students do not have the mentoring and support necessary to further their education, the dual enrollment program provides those essential ingredients that are often unavailable.
GW is not without gain from this relationship. The partnership provides opportunities for students from the Graduate School of Education and Human Development to serve as interns, providing them with valuable experience by teaching and interacting with a diverse student body.
Rigorous programs like this help to produce exceptional teachers and educators who are better prepared for the trials of teaching in urban school systems. Even undergraduates are afforded the opportunity to tutor students and work in conjunction with GW faculty who teach and lecture at SWW.
At a time when the future of education policy in D.C. is in doubt, GW’s partnership with SWW is a prime example of how universities and students across D.C. can help support a struggling school system. We can only hope that others will see the life-changing effects of what GW and the SWW have accomplished.
-The writer, a sophomore majoring in political science, is a Hatchet columnist.