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Middlesex Community College
iddlesex Community College has always offered
a variety of personal and community enrichment
programs, but when the college moved to Lowell, President
Carole Cowan recognized the need to engage the community
in a way that went beyond personal enrichment.
"When we moved into Lowell, we were really looking for a
way to engage the city with special programs or coursework
on the academic side of things," said Cowan, "The logical
way to do that was to see how we could help support the
public schools."
This was the beginning of a long-standing and highly
successful partnership with the Lowell Public Schools system.
That arrangement has served as the basis for the college's
more than 15 K-12 partnerships. It is work that was far ahead
of its time.
"The goal was two-fold: Tailor programming in a more
strategic way for the college focusing on K-12 partnerships,
and create a pipeline of students who were better prepared
for college-level work," explained Cowan.
The Lowell Public Schools system was open to the idea.
Supported by a small grant, Middlesex began offering courses
to at-risk students and high school drops outs. Shortly
thereafter, Middlesex Academy opened.
"After that initial program began, the college started writing
federal grants that brought a variety of programs to MCC,
including GEAR UP and the TRIO program," said Cowan.
Middlesex supports four collegiate and precollegiate federal
TRIO programs and the state/federal GEAR UP (Gaining Early
Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs)
precollegiate program. These programs assist students who
are low-income, first-generation students, or individuals with
disabilities to gain the skills, encouragement and preparation
needed to pursue post-secondary education.
In 1995, Middlesex wrote and won a federal grant to
transform Middlesex Academy into a fully-fledged charter
school ­now the Lowell Middlesex Academy Charter School
"We were among the first charter schools in the state," said
Cowan. "Our program was unique at the time because it
was originally designed for high school dropouts." LMACS
currently targets at-risk adolescents who have officially
dropped out of high school or who are seriously at risk of
doing so.
At the same time LMACS was established, another K-12
opportunity presented itself to President Cowan. "We became
the beta site for the state's Dual Enrollment Program through
an agreement with Nashoba Valley Technical School."
MCC's Dual Enrollment Academy allows qualified high school
and home-schooled students to earn college credit while
satisfying their high-school graduation requirements. Dual
Enrollment students may enroll in college-level courses
offered online, or on campus. Flexible options are available
to focus on science and math, engineering and technology,
health professions or business administration.
In addition to discounted tuition, some state funding is
available to cover tuition and fees for a limited number of
admitted Massachusetts residents enrolled in college-level
courses that are transferable to an associate- or bachelor-
degree program.
"Every year we have at least one student who graduates from
Nashoba Valley Technical High School with their diploma as
well as from Middlesex with an associate degree. It's very
impressive," added Cowan.
eading the Way in K-12 Partnerships