Cortland School District and TC3 Partner to Create Early College High School

Project Supported by $1.175 Million Grant from NYS Education Department
Cortland School District and TC3 logos

The Cortland Enlarged City School District and Tompkins Cortland Community College (TC3) have secured a $1.175 million grant from the New York State Education Department to develop an Early College High School (ECHS). Cortland is the first district in Cortland County to receive a grant through the State’s Smart Scholars Early College High School Program. The aim of the program is to provide students who are traditionally underrepresented in postsecondary education with the opportunity and support to accelerate the completion of their high school studies while earning college credits at the same time. 

The new program is an expansion of an existing strong relationship between Cortland and TC3 that has allowed hundreds of students to earn college credit while still at Cortland High through the CollegeNow concurrent enrollment program. Some of the students have even been able to earn an associate degree from TC3 simultaneous to their high school diploma from Cortland. 

"Our partnership is strong," said Bob Edwards, Superintendent of Schools in Cortland. "I am so grateful for what is available to our high school students. Our program is the result of much work done over the past ten years. Our teachers are integral to the success of our students in concurrent enrollment classes, and I can't say enough about all our school counselors do in this realm."  

“This is a wonderful opportunity to take our partnership to the next level by incorporating pathways for students to explore their interests and identify goals for after high school, while getting a jumpstart on their college education,” said Victoria Zeppelin, Director of CollegeNow at TC3. “A great aspect of the program is that, in addition to taking classes at their high school, students will come to the TC3 campus for activities and coursework with our faculty and staff.”

Students in the Early College program will receive additional academic support ready to participate in rigorous high school and collegiate courses. The hope is that the program will increase high school graduation and college completion rates while reducing student tuition costs. 

“Starting in April, we were able to appoint Janesa Cornish, High School Assistant Principal, to be the Coordinator of Early College High School,” said Edwards. “I am so excited for Janesa to lead this work. She is a go-getter and is very well thought-out in terms of our next steps in the process."  

Throughout May, the District will contact Cortland students and families in preparation for the first round of student applications, which will be open for students that will be entering ninth grade in the fall. “I am excited to jump into working with students and families through Cortland’s ECHS program,” said Cornish. “It is a monumental opportunity to support students in the development of their future as early as ninth grade. Through the collaboration of school and community partnerships we are going to experience the many benefits this program will have on our students here at Cortland High School for years to come.”