New Castle Career Center Earns Early College Re-Endorsement

The Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning (CELL) at the University of Indianapolis recently announced the re-endorsement of the Early College (EC) program at New Castle Career Center (NCCC) in Henry County for the second time. The Early College at the New Castle Career Center is designated as highly effective in implementing with fidelity the Eight Core Principles of Early College. The NCCC Early College began in 2016 when the school started strengthening its slate of dual credit offerings leading to a higher education credential. The program was endorsed by CELL in 2019, and in 2022 graduated 100 students with a college certificate in one of the following programs: precision machining, welding, health careers, and culinary arts from Ivy Tech Community College in Muncie. Another six students earned a Technical Certificate from Ivy Tech, a stackable credential that can lead to an associate degree in their chosen field.

Mackenzie Jackson, the Director, stated “The New Castle Career Center is proud and excited about the CELL Re-Endorsement. The staff has worked incredibly hard to add college credits and Ivy Tech diplomas. We are extremely thankful for the partnership with CELL and hard-working staff members.”

The Early College high school model creates small schools that are designed to give students jumpstarts for the rest of their lives. Students can earn both high school diplomas and up to two years of credit toward bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, or certificates. While open to all students, Early College programs specifically serve low-income young people, first-generation college students, English language learners, and students of color – all statistically underrepresented in higher education. Early Colleges “blur the lines” between high school and postsecondary programs.

To be considered for endorsement, the school prepared a portfolio that addressed the eight required principles established by CELL including providing a rigorous curriculum, robust student supports, and completion data. In addition, a CELL team visited the school to interview the administration, teachers, and students about the EC and its benefits and challenges before designating the program as endorsed.

“These technically-endorsed Early College High Schools have documented evidence of quality programs that help high school students graduate and accelerate into post-secondary education, whether at a four-year institution, a two-year institution or a career/technical program. These students’ accomplishments are true game-changers for them and their families,” said Sandy Hillman, CELL Director of Early College. “The strong leadership of Director Mackenzie Jackson and April Williams, Career Counselor, has created and implemented an Early College program that continues to grow and flourish in helping students experience a headstart in their post-secondary education and preparedness for a productive career pathway.”

CELL, at the University of Indianapolis, is a leading convener, catalyst, and collaborator for dynamic, innovative education change in Indiana. It has trained over 160 high schools across the state in the fundamentals of Early College and endorsed 54 Early Colleges as of May 2023. Six of these 54 schools are technical schools, and NCC is one of the six statewide. Once a school receives endorsement, it is expected to develop its opportunities further and will be reviewed for re-endorsement every four years.