Meagan Alexander was a sophomore taking AP and advanced classes at her local public school two and a half years ago. However, her advanced academic course load was taking a toll.
“I was staying up until three in the morning to write papers and then had to wake up by 5:30 to finish off my homework. I wasn’t getting any sleep and it finally got to me,” Meagan said.
Meagan still wanted to be challenged academically, but she needed a schedule and pace that was more flexible. She found her solution at Premier High School of Little Rock’s Premier Prep program.
“Premier was able to offer a lot of the classes I wanted to take, but because we only have a five-hour school day, I had spare time to complete any extra work or enjoy extracurriculars. I could have had access to all the AP classes I am taking somewhere besides Premier, but it would have been more difficult. The classes aren’t easier here, but they are more workable,” she said.
Meeting each student’s needs is always the goal of Premier High School of Little Rock says campus director Dennis Felton. He knows student success depends on knowing his students’ needs and finding ways to meet them.
“Meeting kids where they are, whether they are high achievers or are behind, is what Premier is all about. With students like Meagan who were scoring 100% mastery on every test, I knew we needed to add options to our program. Since we already have an individualized learning program, we can easily adapt to help students with a wide range of needs,” said Dennis.
Seeking a way to meet the needs of his students who needed to be challenged, Dennis looked to make partnerships last year. He partnered with Arkansas School of Mathematics, Sciences and Arts, Arkansas Tech University, Pulaski Technical College and Arkansas Baptist College to provide students with dual credit and AP options free of cost. Most of the classes the students take through the program are online.
“To be part of Premier Prep is a selective process. We don’t want to do a disservice to our students by setting them up for failure. We are confident in the academic abilities of all our students who are part of Premier Prep. We have found that adding in the Premier Prep option has motivated students to take their coursework more seriously,” said Mr. Felton.
The motivation of Premier Prep has kept senior Jack Bryan focused. Before coming to Premier High School, Jack had struggled with focusing in his classes. The constant distractions of a regular school setting did not make managing his ADD and dyslexia easy.
“I did not learn well in direct teaching settings, I need to read the information for myself. In a regular school setting it is too easy for me to just start talking with my classmates and not actually do my schoolwork. At Premier that distraction is gone. Everyone is focused on their own work and you are actually learning it because the responsibility is on you,” said Jack.
Jack came to Premier High School of Little Rock in 2015, and he is now on track to graduate May 2017 with fifteen college credits. Knowing he is capable of completing college-level work has given Jack confidence that he is ready to start college in the fall.
“I really think every school should be like Premier. I wish I had come here earlier. I might have already been in college by now,” said Jack.
For Meagan, her more flexible academic schedule has allowed her to earn fifteen college credits while being involved in student council, photography club, yearbook as well as volunteering at her church, playing on a soccer team and taking figure skating classes.
“Premier is such a tight knit community. I am not lost in the crowd or overwhelmed. The teachers and Mr. Felton know and care about what I want to do,” said Meagan.
Meagan and Jack are the first students in Premier Prep to graduate from Premier High School.