celebrate education - brought to you by the amarillo globe-news

Learning continues at AC

Students prepare for college

By Brad Newman

When Alicia Spoll decided to pursue a teaching degree, she knew she first had to overcome one obstacle: math.

The Amarilloan avoided math classes when she took classes at Central Connecticut State University in the 1980s. And her high school math instruction was less than sufficient.

"I figured I'd have to go hunting around for a tutor," Spoll said.

But Spoll found arithmetic aid in Amarillo College's developmental education courses.

AC offers developmental education classes - designed to prepare students for college-level course work - in math, reading and writing.

Spoll began with basic math and this spring, she finished intermediate algebra, the highest level of developmental education math offered at AC.

"I'm so grateful this program is here," Spoll said. "They practically make it impossible for you to fail."

Thousands of students each semester enroll in AC's developmental education classes.

"Our mission is to prepare under-prepared students for college," said Judy Johnson, chairwoman of AC's ACcess division, which oversees the developmental education programs.

"All our students have the potential for college, and we are the link for those students who need assistance," she said.

AC offers its developmental education classes in both traditional classroom environments and in an open computer lab, the ACcess Learning Lab.

The ACcess Learning Lab, open 62 hours each week, allows students to take classes at their own pace, but with one-on-one instruction.

Most colleges and universities in Texas have some sort of developmental education program.

But AC's program, which began in 1974, includes one of the broadest and highest-certified curricula in the state.

All AC's developmental education programs this spring received full certification from the National Association for Developmental Education.

AC started the rigorous certification process in 2001.

"This certification award represents tangibly that AC's developmental education programs are top of the line," Johnson said.

Johnson said about 84 percent of students who come to AC need some sort of development course.

"Some people need just a few hours of brushup work and some need several classes," she said. "We work with students at whatever level they're at."

This spring, AC enrolled about 2,190 students in developmental classes, according to data from AC's office institutional research.

"There's so much you need to know before you can take college classes," said Ladelle Riles, 27, of Amarillo.

Riles, a graduate of Tascosa High School, has taken a developmental reading and a developmental math class from AC on her way to becoming a surgical technician.

"I'm proud that I got up and got started," she said. "These classes are paving the way for my future."

AC offers developmental education classes throughout both its summer sessions and during the fall and spring semesters.

Celebrate Education is a yearlong community project to encourage lifelong learning and help raise the education level in the Texas Panhandle.

calendar of events
  • January 11
    Kickoff of 2009 Program
    Find out what Celebrate Education is all about in this special section in your Sunday paper.
  • March 7
    Regional Spelling Bee, West Texas A&M University
    The annual Regional Spelling Bee will feature the top spellers from the Amarillo area. The top five winners will receive scholarship money ranging from $500 to $5,000 and the winner will travel to Washington, D.C., in June to represent the area in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
  • Spring and Fall
    Amarillo Reads community-wide reading projects.
    Dates and details TBA
  • April
    Amarillo Education Matching Grants Program. Exact date TBA
  • April 10
    What's a Kid to Do Special Section
  • April 12
    What's a Kid to Do at the Amarillo Civic Center
    This event will focus on activities and camps for children to participate in during the summer..
  • May 8-29
    Beating the Odds
    A series of stories published daily in the Amarillo Globe-News during the graduation season that profiles people who have inspiring stories to tell about the degree they are about to receive.
  • May 12
    Ready for the Real World program at Amarillo Civic Center
    AISD juniors get training on what's going to face them in a little more than a year.
  • May 16
    Best and Brightest Special Section
  • May 16
    Best and Brightest Event at West Texas A&M University
  • Fall
    Discover College Day
    Fifth graders from area schools visit college campuses.
  • October 1
    Great Jobs Special Section
    Focusing on well paying jobs available in the area that people may not know about.
  • November 2
    Career Education Special Section
    Focusing on businesses and others in the community helping young people gain a career vision.
  • November
    Yes You Can Event
    Designed to help people gain information about the next level of education from GED to PhD. Date TBA.
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