May 16th, 2023
Thirty-eight high school students have graduated from Jackson Central-Merry Early College High (JCM-ECH) with associate degrees from Jackson State Community College. Students that graduate from ECH receive both a high school diploma and an associate degree or certificate. ECH’s class of 2023 is graduating with a variety of degrees such as general studies, mass communications, criminal justice, psychology, and pre-health professions.
Early College High started in 2015 and is headed by Principal Dr. Nathan Lewis. It initially began as a school-within-a-school during its pilot stage and has quickly expanded since. The original class of ECH, which graduated in 2019, included 17 graduates who earned an associate degree. As of the 2022-2023 academic year, the school has 241 students enrolled and a waitlist for further enrollment.
“Our students are our future and to see these students graduate from Early College High has been a tremendous honor,” said Dr. Lewis. “This is a homegrown program through the outstanding efforts and support of the Jackson-Madison County School System and our partner Jackson State Community College. This wouldn’t be the program it is today without their support and the numbers don’t lie, we are truly changing the lives of our students to support them academically and professionally.”
ECH students began taking classes on JSCC’s campus in 2017 and in 2021 ECH opened their Workforce Development Center, further expanding the courses and services available to students. Students can take any program through JSCC that does not have an age requirement and can participate in all JSCC activities and clubs while studying there, including studying abroad.
“Early College High’s success shows the remarkable achievements students are capable of when given the opportunity and resources they need to succeed. The time and effort these students have put into their education over the last four years is a testament to their ability to go above and beyond,” said Jennifer Cherry, the Director of Curriculum and Adjunct Services at JSCC. “It has been a pleasure to see the ECH program grow since its inception and to educate such exemplary students.”
Through ECH, students can take up to 20 college courses or 60 credit hours. Along with their high school diploma, students may earn TCAT credit, workforce certificates, and associate degrees through JSCC. Students who have other career goals in mind can also work with JSCC and TCAT to personalize a career path for them.
Students at ECH are offered grants that allow them to earn their degrees tuition-free. To qualify for the grant, students must be a Tennessee resident, be enrolled in the program full-time, and maintain at least a 3.0 GPA in both their high school and dual enrollment courses. 80 hours of community service are also required before graduation.
JCM-ECH Mission Statement
We, the community of Early College High School, are committed to empowering a diverse body of students to develop and apply skills in order to pursue knowledge and become productive college students, workers and citizens. We will accomplish this goal by designing curricular and support structures that ensures all students meet and exceed performance standards to obtain a high school diploma and multiple levels of college credit that will lead to a workforce certificate or an associate degree.