GPC and DeKalb County Schools Expand Early College

Contact: Gina Gavin
Phone: 678-891-3222
Fax: 678-891-2966
Author: Susan Gast


A new agreement between Georgia Perimeter College and the DeKalb County School District will increase opportunities for high school students to earn college credit, while also providing resources and training to enhance high school instruction.

DeKalb Schools Superintendent Michael Thurmond and interim GPC President Rob Watts signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Thursday, authorizing an expanded partnership between the school system and college that leaders say will strengthen college readiness of students, expose more students to college and promote college completion.

“This is a great day for the college--to expand this partnership with DeKalb County School System,” Watts said. “I appreciate the vision of Superintendent Thurmond, who wants to give more high school students an opportunity to attend and experience college and earn high school and college credits simultaneously. We look forward to supporting that. It is certainly a win-win for the college and the school system.”

The partnership fits into the state’s Complete College Georgia initiative because it will expose more high school students to college and enhance their preparation for college level studies,” said Phil Smith, GPC’s interim vice president for academic affairs. He said the initiative also works to shorten the time students require to complete their college degrees.

“This is an excellent expansion of a longstanding partnership between DeKalb County Schools and Georgia Perimeter College,” Thurmond said. “I’m excited as a superintendent, but even more excited for the students who will have more access to higher education.”

Stacy E. Stepney, DeKalb County Schools’ director of K-12 electives and special programs, said the partnership will provide strong support for students because GPC will begin engaging them early--in ninth grade.

“Now we’re excited we can bring our principals onboard, and they can help us craft it so we can meet the needs of the community,” Stepney said.

Gina Gavin, GPC’s director of early college programs, said early college programs not only expand the K-12 pipeline to college, but improve college readiness of high school graduates, shorten the time to a degree once in college and increase the likelihood of completion. The GPC-DeKalb partnership expansion also will help to cultivate a college-going culture among students, she said.

The DeKalb County School District is the third largest district in Georgia, serving nearly 99,000 students.

Georgia Perimeter College, the largest state college of the University System of Georgia, serves approximately 23,000 students through four campuses and several sites in metro Atlanta. For additional information, visit