Dual credit opportunities growing at BFHS
|May 18, 2012|
It took her several years to be able to offer it
to her students, but Bonners Ferry High School
Spanish teacher Linda Hall jumped through myriad
hoops to make hers the first academic class in
Boundary County to offer students dual credit,
saving them big dollars when they graduate and
move on to college.
Under the program, offered through North Idaho College, students in Mrs. Hall's class can get credits not only needed to graduate high school, but up to 14 college credits as well, at a considerable savings.
Before she earned the right to offer academic dual credits, students in vocational classes were the only ones who could benefit. Now, after two years participation in the NIC program in Spanish, two more teachers have earned the credentials to offer academic dual credits next year, with Ryan Gillespie offering college credits in calculus and Judy Wages offering them in biology.
"It's normally $130 a college credit," Mrs. Hall said. "Under the dual credit program, the county pays half, so each credit only costs $65. If the student qualifies for free or reduced lunch, they can apply for a scholarship, which can pay all but $90."
Those credits are good not only at NIC, but at the University of Idaho, and they are transferrable to other colleges both in and out of state.
Now in her second year of being able to offer dual credits for Spanish, Linda worked for six years to earn the ability to provide her students the opportunuity, passing tests, getting the proper credentials, prearing lesson plans and giving presentations to NIC staff.
Linda had a few obstacles to overcome. Growing up in the barrios of California, she'd long since mastered the Spanish language, speaking and writing it fluently. But to offer her course at the college level, she had to go back to school herself. She has a master's degree, but it's not in education or Spanish, but entomology, the study of bugs.
She met and married Dr. Roland Hall in college, and came with him to Bonners Ferry where he is a veterinarian. With not many career opportunities for entomologists here, she took up teaching, and to qualify to teach dual credit Spanish, she had to not only earn a minor in Spanish, but prove her proficiency to the NIC Spanish Department.
She concedes the extra effort has been considerable, but well worth it.
"As a parent, I'd want my children to have this opportunity," she said. "I'd want them to have that advantage to finish two years of college Spanish while they're still in high school."
Whether or not her students take advantage of dual credits, those who attend her classes find the courses intense, but rewarding.
"I'm an old school, tough teacher," Linda said with a big smile while students listening in nodded emphatically in the affirmative. "After the first day in class, we speak nothing but Spanish. Those who have gone through all three years with me, even if they're struggling to keep a 'C,' leave here fluent in the language."
Many of her three-year students, she said, have gone on to college and tested out their first three semesters of college Spanish without ever stepping into a classroom, accomplishing the next best thing to dual credits even before academic dual credits had been offered here.
"This is an exceptional opportunity," Mrs. Hall said. "It's ridiculous if students arten't taking advantage."
BFHS Students interested in taking advantage should talk to their counselor and learn how to register for NIC classes on-line. Once a student enrolls, they'll receive additional information on the program in the mail.
In an effort to help ensure that all students who want to take advantage can, Mrs. Hall is accepting donations from the community to help fund local scholarships for students who otherwise couldn't afford the opportunity.
"If a student has the desire," she said, "we'll find a way."
Those interested in learning more can call Linda at (208) 267-3149, extension 125, or at (208) 255-8708.