An Eastern Iowa community college is bringing new opportunities for high school students. - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

An Eastern Iowa community college is bringing new opportunities for high school students.

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Monticello, IA (KWWL) -- A new co-op is preventing some teachers from being laid off from at least one Eastern Iowa district. That's because it's sharing teachers with a community college program for high schoolers. As News Channel Seven's Jamie Grey shows us, it's not only saving the district money, but also bringing new opportunities for students.

Say you're a high school student from a rural school district in eastern Iowa. You want to get a head-start on your career, but there's not something right in your town. Now, in Jones County, you can go to a special center and get hands-on experience and college credit at the same time.

"We take blood pressures, work with patients," Abby Whittenbaugh said.

Whittenbaugh is on her way to being a Certified Nursing Assistant.

"I want to go into the medical field, so I thought this was a good opportunity to start in high school," she said.

Taking classes at Kirkwood Community College's Jones County Regional Education Center, she's already earning credit to take with her after graduation.

"I want to be an anesthesiologist's assistant," Whittenbaugh said.

Down the hall, Andy Knapp, another high school senior is going a different route.

"In college, I want to go and do construction management, and this is a good introduction into the construction world," Knapp said.

That's what this is about, an introduction for up to 200 students from eight area school districts.

"We're trying to make this as true to a college experience as possible." Kristy Black, the center's director, said.

All of the district's involved are rural.

"One of our districts, Olin, has maybe 40 students total in their high school system. So, for a district of that size, there's no way they would be able to offer these programs on their own," Black said.

The schools pay $2,100 a seat, but often get deals by providing teachers or getting state reimbursement.

"They truly see the value it creates for their students," Black said.

"I'll get a jumpstart. Just get a real opportunity to know what I'm getting into before college," Whittenbaugh said.

So, once students leave the program, they've actually got a transcript started from Kirkwood, and they didn't have to pay a cent. It's all covered by the districts.

The eight school districts have signed a ten-year committment with Kirkwood to continue buying up the seats and sending students into the program.

Online Reporter: Jamie Grey

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