My First Early College Experiences
July 28, 2016

Melanie Hagan is a rising sophomore at Haywood Early College, Haywood County Schools

Early college is a wonderful opportunity to save money and get a great education at the same time. It is a public high school program where you can achieve your high school diploma, and earn a two-year associate’s degree in five years or less. I’ve already taken six college classes in my first year here along with four high school classes. The classes were intriguing and the teachers inspiring.

My first semester of my freshman year at Haywood Early College was challenging because I was not familiar with all that was expected of me, but I made it through with the help of kind teachers and a very friendly staff. My Math 1 teacher was especially helpful to me. She was always there for her students in the morning to help them understand the subject, and she would sacrifice her lunch to make sure she had all her students in her class on time. If they were not in her class on time, she would stop what she was doing and find them. I have gone to her classroom several times for additional assistance, and I always walk out with a better understanding of the subject. When I had a question in class, she would ask me a provoking question instead of just giving me the answer immediately. This improved my ability to solve the problem. That class is usually very small, and she groups students who can work well together as a team. She is very intuitive and knows when students are not getting along. So instead of forcing these students to work together, she acknowledges they do not make a good partnership and situates them with someone else.

Another thing about this school that aided my learning are the small classes. Some of the college classes can seem pretty daunting because of their size, but that is not the case with the high school classes. They are small and this provides much needed one­on­one time with your teachers. You also get to know each and every one of your peers in smaller classes, and this assists you in making friends.

Here at Haywood Early College, we support each other in every possible way. The staff are not the only ones who care about your success. Each first year student is assigned a mentor the very first week of school. Mentors are simply students who have passed their first year and are passionate about helping younger students thrive in school just as they did. They are assigned at least two people to mentor and they are good at keeping up with them. Mentors are inspiring, and it is always nice to know that someone who has walked in your footsteps cares about you and will help you with your classes.

Just as the staff are enthusiastic, so is our principal. Mr. Haney is happy to be involved in all the students’ lives. When you walk by him he always asks how you are doing, but he does not stop there. He goes on to ask why if you said only pretty good. I enjoy talking to him because he cares, and he is committed to showing students just that. Mr. Haney is so animated and I have no doubt he is trying to make this school a better environment for every student. If there is a student sitting alone at a lunch table, Mr. Haney will sit down with them and have lunch with them. When someone is playing Frisbee, he will actually play with them. He knows how to have fun, and his smile brings joy to everyone he encounters.

All of these things supported me my first year and I probably would not have succeeded if it were not for the combination of a wonderful staff, a passionate principal, small classes, and thoughtful mentors. I want to thank everyone for the time and care that you give all freshmen. Your passion for our success means a lot to all of us. So keep up the good work. I am so proud to be a student at Haywood Early College.