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 JCCS Students Make Connections with Local Colleges

​Partnerships between SDCOE and local colleges provide students at Juvenile Court and Community Schools (JCCS) with several unique opportunities and a glimpse into college life.

Through these partnerships, students are able to take classes at local colleges and get help from professors and interns from some of those schools.

There are 15 students at North County Technology and Science Academy who are taking a sociology class at Cal State San Marcos through a partnership with the school. Professors with the university's sociology department are also visiting the classroom to provide additional assistance for those students.

"This is a great opportunity for our students," said Principal Joel Spengler, adding that students never miss a Thursday. "The class has completely changed their perspective on the future. It gives them a different lens into the possibilities of their future."

Nick Pellham, 16, of Escondido said he was nervous at first about taking a class on a university campus. He quickly settled in to Professor Christopher Bickel's upper-division class, which examines the prison system.

"It's fun, and they treat us all the same," Nick said. "It's a more independent setting, and you can say what you want to say."

There are already talks of expanding the partnership to support more students in the future.

Another partnership with both Cal State San Marcos and San Diego State University brings counseling interns into the classroom to work with JCCS students. Two of these interns, Yomira Zamora and Heidi Van Mastrigt, recently worked with students at San Diego SOAR Academy's Kearny Mesa site to help them prepare for a visit from Assemblymember Todd Gloria. Another counseling intern is helping students at JCCS's 37ECB campus.

"These connections are beneficial for the college student and for our JCCS high school students," said Christopher Toomey, JCCS head counselor. "Building this community allows for both groups to connect and learn from each other."

Partnerships with Palomar, Cuyamaca, San Diego City, Grossmont, and MiraCosta colleges allow students to take concurrent classes at their JCCS site and at one of the colleges.

Students at San Diego SOAR Academy's East Mesa site have enrolled in 75 online college courses this school year, mostly with Cuyamaca College. These classes include world history, health, counseling, and keyboarding. The average grade point average for these students is 3.25, and they have a completion rate of 71 percent. Professors from Cuyamaca College have even visited the remote site to work with students individually.

Students at Cuyamaca Prep Community School in East County have a chance to mix some college courses in with their high school classes since the school is located in a classroom on the Cuyamaca College campus.

By taking three classes at Cuyamaca College,16-year-old Pariss Rodriguez was able to graduate early.

"I think it's awesome," she said. "It's really cool to be able to go out to a real college and be able to take classes."

Through a partnership with San Diego City College, students have several access to, including extra supports, workshops, engagement activities, and a worker certification program. Another important opportunity at City College is the annual Passport to Life Career and Education Expo, where hundreds of young people who have had contact with the juvenile justice system can find inspiration and resources.

Back in North County, Spengler's team is pursuing a service learning partnership with nearby Palomar College. Two North County Tech students recently spoke to group of Palomar faculty members, explaining the JCCS program and sharing what it would mean to have college students earn service learning credit with them. North County JCCS students also will have the chance to take summer enrichment classes at Palomar.

"Partnerships with colleges help students choose other things over violence and drugs," Spengler said.