Flexibility & Support CAN Work in Curriculum
We are all familiar with the adage “It takes a village to raise a child.” Here at Pemberton Township Schools, that saying is powerfully demonstrated in the story of one remarkable child and her unique curriculum needs.
Pemberton Township Schools proudly participates in the College Acceleration Program (CAP) with Burlington County College (BCC), which in and of itself is not unique; many high schools provide an avenue to earn college credits via CAP programs. For the first time in our 110 year history, in May, a Pemberton Township High School student graduated from BCC with her associate’s degree, more than a month prior to receiving her high school diploma.
The reasons for this success are many: an incredibly bright, highly-motivated student, with a very supportive family; a rigorous curriculum providing AP, CAP and honors courses; an encouraging and caring high school faculty; and an administration and board of education that went above and beyond to create a program to accommodate her unique curriculum needs outside of our standard program.
For those not familiar with Pemberton, we are a diverse, rural community located in the Pinelands (about 20 miles southeast of Trenton) adjacent to the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (formerly known as McGuire Air Force Base, Fort Dix, and Lakehurst Naval Air Station.) More than 20% of our student population is part of an active military family. As a former Abbott district, fifty-two percent of our students are free or reduced lunch eligible. This June, our high school graduated approximately 210 students and historically, an average of 78-80% of our students go on to higher education, including both 2 and 4 year colleges.
Our student, whom we’ll simply call H.A., began her journey in middle school, when she exceeded her science and math requirements at that level, and pursued three courses in high school while still in 8th grade. We provided transportation to and from the high school during the school day, enabling her to blend a middle school curriculum and social life with the challenges of high school coursework. She continued to excel at the high school level and within 3 years was able to complete 32 college credits through the CAP program. She had exhausted the courses we could offer in high school, but wanted to continue her path to complete her associate’s degree, and that’s when the flexibility and support of Pemberton truly kicked in.
Our director of curriculum worked closely with H.A. to determine a course of action and after meeting with college representatives, administration and board members, her schedule was adjusted to allow her to attend the high school for the mandated coursework, and the college for her remaining credits. While not everyone would have been able to balance such a demanding workload, in May, H.A. graduated from Burlington County College with an associate’s degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences and a 4.0 GPA. June 18th she received her high school diploma and spoke at the Pemberton Township High School graduation as valedictorian. She then heads on to a renowned university--with a full scholarship and plans to complete both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in just 3 years.
While this is only one success story, the groundwork has been laid for future student endeavors. Common Core Curriculum and flexibility are not antithetical. In Pemberton, our mission proclaims we “Pursue Excellence, One Child at a Time” and this is just one example affirming that statement.