Parents Get Sneak Peek At Franklin High School’s New ‘Health Care Professions Academy’

Eric Siegal, the school district’s science supervisor, speaks about the Health Care Professions Academy April 17.

Students who enroll in the inaugural year of Franklin High School’s new Health Professions Academy will take a minimum of 10 college credits with them when they graduate in 2023, a group of parents was told on April 17.

And while those 10 credits – which eventually could expand to more than 30 – will be for health-related professions, they can also count toward a college student’s overall graduation requirements.

The parents were given an overview of the new academy – which is affiliated with Rutgers University and will start in the 2019-20 school year – at Franklin Middle School’s Hamilton Street campus by Eric Siegal, the district’s science supervisor.

Siegal’s presentation covered the application process, what courses would be offered and Rutgers’ requirements for participation.

The first class will consist of 24 students who will be selected from this year’s 8th Grade class, Siegal said. The selection criteria will include grades, an essay, recommendation letters and student interviews, he said.

“We’re going to take grades in math, science and English Language Arts over the course of three years and average that together,” he said. “Then we’re looking at PARCC scores, which is now the NJSLA.”

Overall, students should have at least a B-plus average, and have “good behavior and good attendance,” Siegal said.

“Once we get through the application and the grades and the standardized tests, students who are interested will be asked to write a letter, and that will be done during school hours, and they’ll be asked to submit some letters of reference,” Siegal said. “From that, we will select 40 students to interview. From the interview, we will pick 24 students for the first cohort.”

“We have board-approved criteria that balances students’ personalities equally with grades,” Siegal said. “We want nurses and health care practitioners that have empathy and are sympathetic and outgoing, so that’s important to us.”

“So yes, we’ll look at grades and essays and other references, but a big piece of this is the student interview,” he said. “Talk to us about your community work, are you on a sports team, do you have a group activity, do you do charity work or are you involved in a church or a temple or a mosque of some kind. That’s all important.”

The selected students will be able to take any of the regular courses they would want to take at FHS, as well as any after-school activities or athletics.

“The only difference is for certain courses throughout their four years, they’ll be taking classes together as a 24-student cohort in courses aligned to Rutgers University,” he said.

During their freshman year at FHS, the students will have to take Algebra 1 and Biology, but not Honors Biology, and maintain an GPA of at least 80, he said. They’ll have to maintain a GPA of at least 78 for the remaining years at FHS.

“After their freshman year, they still have to have an 80 percent, across all their classes,” he said. “Once after the freshman year they have completed Biology, they have completed Algebra 1, they maintain good grades, then they start entering into the dual-role courses.”

As they stand now, the course offerings are:

  • Sophomores: Chemistry, Dynamics of Health Care (worth three college credits)
  • Juniors: Medical Terminology (worth three college credits)
  • Seniors: Anatomy and Physiology, (worth four college credits)

That will result in graduating seniors having 10 college credits, he said.

“In addition to the Rutgers courses, they have to do 10 hours a year of some kind of clinical or practical experience,” he said. “It doesn’t mean working in a hospital, it could mean going with a relative to the doctor’s office, or witnessing or participating in physical therapy. Anything related to a health profession, it’s a very large umbrella of activities that are approved.”

The FHS science teachers will be considered Rutgers adjunct professors, Siegal said.

“At the end of these academy classes, there will be a Rutgers exam, that’s an online computer-based exam, not any different than what students do now for PARCC or NJSLA, and if they pass the class and the exam, they get full official Rutgers credits,” he said.

“The grades will appear on a Rutgers transcript as if (the student) had gone to Rutgers as an 18-year-old freshman,” he said.

The 10 credits roughly equate to two courses, Siegal said. He said that if those same credits were taken at Rutgers as a part-time college student, without fees they would cost $4,630.

The cost to the student in the FHS academy, he said, is $140 for the two exam fees.

“You’ll save $4,490,” he said. “It’s the same curriculum, the same exam, but it’s done at Franklin High School, that’s a great benefit to our students who would like to be in this academy program.”

The link to Siegal’s presentation can be found here.


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