HCC Middle College Program Receives Post-Secondary Excellence Award


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Matthew Cumblidge’s father said his son no longer needed to be woken up every morning.

“It’s almost like he’s grown up overnight,” said David Cumblidge.

Matthew Cumblidge’s change came after he enrolled in a program at Hagerstown Community College that allows some college-ready high school students to earn college credit for an associate’s degree during their junior and senior years, according to his father.

HCC’s STEMM Technical Middle College, in partnership with Washington County Public Schools, began in the fall of 2013 with 11 students. STEMM stands for science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine.

The program has so far received 40 applications for this fall, with the goal of enrolling around 60 students.

It’s funded, in part, by a grant from the Maryland State Department of Education, said Teresa Thorn, college coordinator for HCC.

Last month, HCC’s Middle College program received the 2014 Outstanding Professional and Technology Education Program Excellence Award from MSDE.

Such programs are generally judged in four areas: program description, learner outcomes, program outcomes, and integration with systemic reform, according to a press release from the HCC.

“We are looking for students with a GPA of 3.75 or higher who have completed 14 or more high school credits toward their graduation,” Thorn said.

“Soft skills” such as organization, the ability to manage time well and the ability to study independently are also important, she said.

The first batch of Middle College students are expected to graduate next year with an associate’s degree, around the same time they graduate from high school.

Students can graduate with a knowledge base they haven’t had the opportunity to acquire before, Thorn said.

“It gives them a chance to complete their studies earlier at a reduced cost,” she said.

Middle College students attend HCC full-time during their middle and high school years.

And it can be as fun as a challenge, said Matthew Cumblidge, who first heard about the program from his sister, who is a teacher at Williamsport.

“When I was in high school, I wasn’t sure what my major would be. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, ”he said.

Matthew, who wants to specialize in cybersecurity, said he found a computer forensics course particularly interesting.

“It’s about finding information that has been hidden or removed from computers,” he said.

Matthew said the college program was easier than some of the advanced placement courses he had taken.

“I would recommend anyone who can do it to do it,” he said.

The country’s first such program began over 30 years ago at LaGuardia Community College in Queens, NY, in partnership with the New York City Board of Education.

At HCC, the degree programs offered under the program include premedical, computer science, alternative energy technology, simulation, and digital entertainment.

Work to join college can begin as early as college, where students can contact their guidance counselors to select the right courses to prepare for.

“In the fall of ninth year, appropriate students are identified as STEMM Technical Middle College (STMC) recruits and must plan and complete rigorous courses at their home schools in preparation for their junior and senior years at HCC.” , according to a description of the program on the HCC website.

In some cases, students may also qualify to enter the program without following these exact steps.

Nader Fawaz, who participates in the program, said he feels ready for a four-year college or university.

“It throws me a sling, puts me in a position to be successful,” said Nader, 16, who had previously been home schooled.

Nader, who wants to major in biomedical engineering, said he hopes to go to Johns Hopkins University, the University of Maryland or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Lili Zheng, a student at South Hagerstown High School, said the program allows a “first-person view” of what it’s like to have a job in a STEMM field.

Lili said she had visited the National Institutes of Health campus and Meritus Medical Center during field visits.

“It’s a challenge, especially because (…) there (are) more course options to take here compared to high school,” she said.

HCC Middle College Coordinator Teresa Thorn talks to Klaire Williams about her schedule for the next semester.

Applications are still being accepted at HCC Middle College for this fall. To apply or learn more, visit www.hagerstowncc.edu/middlecollege or contact Teresa Thorn at 240-500-2483 or [email protected]

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