Chaminade University is taking its early college initiative to new levels, forging a cutting-edge partnership with Kapaa High to connect rural Kauai students to hands-on, online instruction created exclusively for them.
The idea grew out of the need for robust remote learning options during the pandemic, explained Chaminade Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Dr. Janet Davidson. Shortly after many campuses went fully to distance learning, Chaminade delivered a “train-the-trainer” workshop for Kauai teachers on best practices in online instruction. From there, a relationship was formed—and grew.
And roughly a year later, those same partners with the Hawaii Department of Education (DOE) on Kauai approached Davidson with an idea: would you be interested, they asked, in helping us stand up a dual credit college program exclusively for students at Kapaa High? The answer: a resounding yes.
So Chaminade and the DOE started developing a program and seeking financial support for it.
The inaugural cohort was launched in Fall 2021, giving participants—both juniors and seniors—the opportunity to earn high school and college credit at the same time. The program was designed around Kapaa High School’s bell schedule and online courses are delivered live by Chaminade faculty members.
Davidson said students take the courses on Kapaa High School’s campus with a teacher on hand to offer assistance. Chaminade also provides supports to participants, including advising and educational tech.
That first term, students were able to enroll in Human Nutrition and English 101: Introduction to Expository Writing. In Spring 2022, Chaminade offered College Algebra and PSY 101: Intro to Psychology.
Davidson said a junior entering the program has the chance to earn 24 college credits in all.
“The students who are participating have all different types of interests and are at different levels,” Davidson said. “This is really about expanding opportunities—and helping students imagine themselves going to college after graduating from high school. We want to help strengthen that pipeline.”
Students even participate in labs remotely.
Davidson said 23 students took courses through the program in the 2021–2022 academic year.
Of those, all 11 seniors graduated from high school and applied for college.
With 31 students at Kapaa High School in the program this Fall Term, Davidson is proud about how quickly the program has matured and is excited about the potential for future expansion. “We do want to expand—with the right partner,” Davidson said. “The biggest factor for the success of this program is mutual trust. Together, our goal is to make a positive difference in the lives of these high schoolers.”
Davidson added student mentoring is a critical element of the program.
Members of the inaugural cohort, for example, were invited to spend a weekend at Chaminade for intensive workshops on everything from how to finance college to how to succeed in higher education.
“We had an opportunity to engage the students and they were universally very appreciative of the experience,” Davidson said. “The faculty is what made all the difference. They also felt very supported.”