OGDEN, Utah – When students from the Northern Utah Academy for Math, Engineering & Science (NUAMES) leave school to attend early college courses this fall, they can simply walk across campus or down the hall, thanks to a new partnership with Weber State University Davis in Layton.
Earlier this year, NUAMES announced plans to consolidate its campuses in Kaysville and Roy by relocating to the WSU Davis campus, allowing the school to be more efficient by not having to duplicate resources at two locations. The charter high school, one of six serving specific geographical regions in the state, serves the needs of 10th-, 11th- and 12th-graders from Willard Bay to North Salt Lake who take early college courses while still in high school.
“The key word here is synergy,” said Bruce Davis, director of WSU Davis, who has been involved in the partnership since the earliest discussions. “We don’t have to duplicate the infrastructure, parking, transportation, etc. for both schools. With peak time in the daytime for NUAMES and in the evenings for WSU Davis, we can share the resources and infrastructure, which results in much higher utilization of the facility. It’s a win-win situation for our students and for the taxpayers.”
The partnership is the result of extensive planning and discussions. In addition to a transition team that met monthly for more than a year to discuss logistics, eight individual task forces addressed issues such as academic offerings, underage students, facility management and parking/transportation issues. Members of the transition team also visited other charter high schools housed on university or college campuses to learn from their experiences.
The new arrangement features 11 portable classrooms located to the west of the permanent WSU building. During the day, NUAMES students and faculty use the portables, along with five classrooms and a lab in the WSU building. NUAMES administrative offices also are housed in the building. In the evening, WSU courses are taught in the portable NUAMES classrooms, in addition to the main building.
Davis said it’s an improvement over last year, when WSU Davis had evening enrollment that required the use of all 31 classrooms in the facility, five conference rooms as makeshift classrooms, and classrooms in Davis County high schools. The additional portable classroom space will allow WSU Davis to add up to 30 courses to the schedule per semester.
Deb Hefner, director of Business Operations and assistant principal for NUAMES, sees benefits for her students as well. The arrangement allows high school students to become acclimated to a college campus.
“A big part of the fear associated with going to college is the sheer intimidation of physically going to campus, with multiple buildings, etc., which can be overwhelming for lots of kids,” Hefner said. “Our mission at NUAMES is to see our students go on to earn their college degrees. This experience will help prepare them for degrees in math, engineering and science.”
The academy can serve as many as 500 students at one time. The 380 students currently enrolled can take a combination of NUAMES classes and WSU courses, with some only taking one college course while others have a full load. Hefner noted that NUAMES is using a science lab in the WSU building to teach chemistry this year, a course the school couldn’t offer last year because of the lack of a lab classroom. “We taught physics instead,” Hefner said.
Davis said the university had to adjust to having many underage students on campus, including learning more about the guidelines and rules that apply to minors versus traditional college-age students. But the benefits far outweigh the challenges, Davis said.
“Having NUAMES on campus helps the university build strong relationships with these high-potential students,” Davis said. “We have a pipeline of students who are motivated to pursue higher education.”
Hefner recognizes WSU’s support, citing several scholarships the university offers to NUAMES students. Hefner said that even prior to the school’s move to the Layton campus, WSU faculty and students were reaching out to mentor NUAMES students, and the university provided a venue for the academy to hold its commencement exercises—evidence of the growing collaboration between the schools.
Both Davis and Hefner hope this is the first step toward a permanent location for NUAMES. Officials from both institutions are proposing a second building on the Davis campus that would be a new home for NUAMES and allow for the expansion of several professional programs and evening courses for the university.
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