Medically minded T.C. Williams students will get a head start on college

Through a partnership between GWU and ACPS, the high school will house an Academy of Health Sciences pathway program.

tc williams high school
Photo by Kierra Chinn

T.C. Williams High School students will have a chance to get a head start on their college and medical career ambitions through a new partnership between Alexandria City Public Schools and George Washington University.

Through this collaboration, faculty from both schools, as well as health care experts, will offer students the opportunity to attend the Academy of Health Sciences, a pathway housed within T.C. Williams that will help high school students earn up to 22 college credits and health care training.

“Having classes like this in high school is very beneficial—you can figure out if this is what you want to do. If you are taking these classes in college it’s harder and expensive; it’s more convenient to do it now,” Mohamed Abdelrahman, a second year student at T.C. Williams who is a part of the school’s surgical technology program, said.

The Academy, which is expected to roll out during the 2018-2019 school year, will offer courses that have been co-developed to match both the rigor offered at GWU and the high school learning standards set forth by the state. Enrolled students will take a normal high school course-load with Academy classes and health electives worked into their academic plan.

“Students will start [the program] in Introduction to Health and Medical Sciences, an exploratory course to look at different health careers and learn basic skills of the health care field,” Laura Evans, a health and medical sciences teacher at T.C. Williams, said.

After their first year, students will choose a career pathway that interests them. A biomedical informatics pathway built around current trends and practices within the field, will be the only available option in 2018, however.

“[We look for] novel and student-centered ways to help students succeed,” Dr. Reamer Bushardt, George Washington University’s Senior Associate Dean, said. “Students will create handheld technologies (apps) to help mitigate anxiety in adolescents.”

“As technology changes and grows, the younger generation needs to get exposed to it as soon as possible to learn,” Abdelrahman added.

Those interested will apply for admission during the eighth grade, and once accepted, they will take a summer bridge program to help them prepare for their future course load. Accepted students will have guaranteed admission into George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences upon graduation.

For students not ready to take a total leap into the Academy but still want to take health and medical electives, T.C. Williams offers surgical technology and nursing programs whose classes are opened to all students. Such classes can also be used for college credit.