March 23, 2016
Adrienne O’Neill’s advocacy work for early college is why KnowledgeWorks selected her as a recipient of the Champions of Early College High School Award.

Adrienne O’Neill: A champion of Early College High School

Dr. Adrienne O’Neill is a force of nature. When she believes something is right for students and the community, no barrier stands in her way.

Adrienne immediately grasped the potential of early college not only to change the lives of students, but to transform a community. She was a catalyst in launching Canton Early College High School (now Timken Early College High School), helping to bring together Stark State College, Canton City School District and community leaders.

In true Adrienne O’Neill form, the Canton Early College was, from the very beginning, unlike any other early college in the state.

Canton Early College was the first site in Ohio to offer a higher education partner space on the high school campus to provide college courses, not just for students in the early college high school, but for members of the community, as well.

There was no higher education partner near the site of the Canton Early College. That did not deter Adrienne. She did her homework and found that Stark State College – located outside the city — could actually increase its enrollment if it could offer classes to adults in downtown Canton. She sold that notion to University leadership and the Canton Superintendent, and a collaborative agreement was born to launch the Canton Early College High School as a school-within-a-school on the Timken High School Campus. Stark State, the district and the community collaborated to develop the college space on the campus. Stark State College began by offering a handful of courses on its downtown campus for the general public. In no time, literally thousands of adults attended college classes in the convenient new downtown location.

When Canton Early College High School opened, Adrienne was the President of the Stark Education Partnership – a research-driven organization. She used the resources of that nonprofit to capture key lessons from early college and use them to change the face of education and workforce development in Stark County.

In 2015, students in grades 11-12 began going to the campus of Stark Stake College to foster independence and deeper learning. A recent state report showed Stark County as the second highest county in the state of Ohio for high school students enrolled in college.

Adrienne’s advocacy for early college high school in Canton, Ohio, and throughout the state, is why KnowledgeWorks selected her as one of the first recipients of the Champions of Early College High School Award. We thank her not only for her hard work, but also for the legacy she leaves behind, helping students in Canton realize their dreams of college.

Learn more about Timken Early College High School, formerly Canton Early College High School:

Guest post by Deborah Howard, former Senior Director of Operations for KnowledgeWorks.

Written by: Guest Post

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