Lamar reinvents the high school academy

Inspire. To imagine. Innovate. Impact.

These are the four principles that the Texas Academy of Leadership in the Humanities at Lamar University upholds and aims to instill in each of its students – a mission-driven university administration hopes to be spurred by a host of changes introduced by the new curriculum in the program. Dean.

The TALH program is for gifted and talented Texas high school students ready to launch their college careers with more advanced coursework and opportunities for engagement.

“(These) opportunities (are) designed to enhance student learning and leadership in a variety of academic fields, including the humanities, STEAM, and liberal arts,” said Lamar Dean of Reaud Honors College and the TALH program Tilisa Thibodeaux.

Thibodeaux, who began her term as dean in March 2021, said she felt the program was paramount for innovation, revitalization and reimagining, which led her to recreate the purpose of the academy and to change the things that she thinks will make the program better for the future. students.

“My big, bold goal is to be the most influential and sought-after high school academy program in all of Texas,” she said. “My goal was really to align our students with what some of the larger overall goals a top grad student should achieve in their experience, and then move beyond that.”

Changes that have been made to the program include new academic streams such as engineering, business, pre-med, etc., and the removal of the requirement that students who live within 30 miles of the ‘Lamar University live on campus.

TALH was established in the early 1990s and allows students to graduate from high school with two years of college credit, putting them on track to graduate college two years early.

Thibodeaux said TALH is different from dual credit courses and early high schools because of the number of courses Lamar offers.

“Our students are like freshmen in college,” she said. “They have all the resources, all the availability and the distinguished track plan built into their experience.”

Additionally, Thibodeaux said the on-campus experience is very different from what other programs may offer.

“You can fit in like a student,” she said. “(The academy) also feeds directly into our programs.”

When a student applies to the program, they make a pre-graduation plan and the academy then looks at the courses the student has already taken in high school and the courses they need to graduate from high school, said Thibodeaux.

“That’s the first priority,” she said. “Then we look at how those classes intersect with the core (courses). We look at the core at Lamar University, which is the Texas common core, and if they complete it, then when they leave (TALH), they can go to any public institution and have their core (classes) complete.”

If a student has already completed most of their core courses by the time they arrive at TALH, Thibodeaux said they can spend their final year taking electives from their pre-graduation plan, which would put them leading the way to a degree once they enroll in this program as a college student.

The program is open to high school students across Texas and allows its enrollees to live on the Lamar University campus while they attend classes. TALH students have free tuition and pay no fees, although students who live on campus pay for housing. They also have access to all Lamar facilities such as the Recreation Center and can join student organizations such as the Marching Band.

“You’re looking at about $10,000 per semester if you’re living on campus as a traditional student,” Thibodeaux said. “So the (TALH) students get $40,000 over two years.”

Thibodeaux said free tuition allows low-income students to take advantage of the opportunity offered by TALH.

To ensure that the students, most of whom are minors, are safe, resident assistants live in the dorms with the students and perform dorm and curfew checks. An officer also monitors CCTV overnight to ensure no one leaves after curfew.

“We have weekly meetings,” she said. “We have innovation seminars with seniors every two weeks and community meetings that we organize every week. We are with our students all the time and our doors are always open. We are very attentive to know where our students. of all time.”

Thibodeaux said the program has 27 students and she said she hopes to keep enrollment open through May. The academy holds several preview dates during the spring semester, the first of which is on January 26.

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