Union Public Schools and Tulsa Community College are part of a joint venture creating Early College High School (ECHS,) a program that is among the first of its kind in the state.
This program provides eligible Union High School students the opportunity to earn 60 college credits concurrently while attending Union High School; students who complete the program will receive both an associate degree and a high school diploma upon graduation.
About the Program
While Union has offered concurrent classes of eligible students to several years, this program presents a new cohort of students each year with a unique Early College High School experience. TCC instructors teach rigorous college-level courses on-site at Union High School.
The courses offered at Union and at TCC include the general education requirements many local universities require in the initial two years of post-secondary education. Students qualifying for the program have the opportunity to earn 60 hours of college credit and an associate degree in a Liberal Arts field.
Expectations are high . . . for students and the ECHS program. Through the cooperative and shared use of resources, personnel, and facilities, TCC and Union Public Schools will provide access to higher education while reducing the barriers to college completion.
This program is setting the stage for how Early College High School is implemented in Oklahoma. The State Regents for Higher Education is committed to helping improve college graduation rates in Oklahoma, as well as helping to create more first-generation college students.
The program is also a direct response to Oklahoma’s workforce needs, as employers struggle to find enough qualified employees to fill positions in high-growth industries.
Breaking Down the Barriers to College
Early College High School at Union Public Schools will target first-generation college students, those who come from families who have had no experience with college or expectation that their children will attend a university.
By putting students on-track for college before they leave high school, we plan to change the life trajectory for many young people. Ultimately, we hope to improve college graduation rates in Oklahoma, while better preparing students for a successful career in high-demand fields with potentially higher salaries.
Lisa Witcher was named Senior Executive Director of Instructional Services for Union Public Schools in the spring of 2018, as well as principal of Early College High School. She first joined the Union team at Union Intermediate High School as an assistant principal in 2002. Then, she was named director of Professional Development in the spring of 2007 serving until 2011 when Lisa became a Union High School Class Principal for the Class of 2013.
For the last five years, Witcher has served Union as the Executive Director of Secondary Education overseeing staffing and programming for secondary grades (6th-12th.)
Witcher is a graduate of Oklahoma State University and the University of Central Oklahoma, earning a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in secondary administration, respectively. Witcher has served several school districts as an English teacher, coach, and as an administrator. A 1999 graduate of the Principal’s Academy, she is member of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. In 2005, the Oklahoma Association of Secondary School Principals chose her to represent the state as the Assistant Administrator of the Year, an honor she values.