Phoenix College (PC) has had many “firsts” in its nearly 100 years of education. They are used to being the only college to offer something unique. So, in 2003, when they started the Teachers Prep Academy to help provide the state with more qualified, trained teachers, it was just business as usual. But as the college developed the program more, the Teachers Prep Academy morphed into something new entirely – something no other college has: a high school. But not just any high school; this one is on the PC campus. It’s called the Phoenix College Preparatory Academy (PCPA).
PCPA students attend college classes on the actual campus of Phoenix College. Students have access to the college's computer labs, libraries and other services too. PCPA even has its own athletic teams and is a member of the Canyon Athletic Association.
“It’s unique,” says Principal Keith Brown. “PCPA students regularly interact with community college students who also serve as both mentors and tutors. It’s like private education, but free because we are a public institution. As an added bonus, students in good academic standing may qualify for free college tuition as well.”
The high school specializes in helping students get at least 30 college credits (which is equal to one year) while in high school through various career pathways in medical, computer information systems and teaching. PCPA’s graduation rate for the last three years is more than 98 percent. They have a dropout rate of less than 1 percent and the success rate of students that choose to take college classes is an astounding 86 percent.
Like Phoenix College, PCPA prides itself on the diversity it offers, drawing from the local surrounding community. “Our students are a reflection of the diversity of the community we serve,” said Brown. “Close to 90 percent of our students are on free and reduced lunch. We create hope and opportunity for students and families by having a school where students can take college classes that are paid for (as well as their books) while still in high school.”
Because PCPA’s pathways program is so successful and popular, many students come back and serve the community after graduating from college – serving as doctors, lawyers, teachers and military personnel.
Brown, who is in his seventh year as the Principal at PCPA, has led the school to become an A-rated school for the three years in a row. Previously, it has been a D school. “We have grown more than 300 percent in the last six years and now serve 230 students. We had only 65 when I started,” Brown noted.
PCPA is proud of its star students. For example, 48 percent of seniors that earned their associate degree last May from Phoenix College, received their AA before high school graduation. Ninety-five percent of students earn at least 30 college credits before graduating high school.
“Seventy-five percent of our students are accepted to universities and receive scholarships and grants,” boasts Brown. “Our students have received more than 3 million dollars in grants and scholarships in the last two years. Fifteen of them even earned full-tuition equivalent through the Obama Scholarship or others.” In fact, in 2018 PCPA students earned 1.75 million dollars in scholarships and grants and in 2019, it was 1.5 million.
Like a true educator, Principal Keith Brown could go on for hours bragging about his students and their success. Indeed, it’s hard to narrow down the rock stars that Phoenix College Preparatory Academy produces.
- Honrine Kirezi came to the US with her family as refugees from Africa. She graduated with an associate degree from Phoenix College before high school graduation and earned the Obama scholarship (which is tantamount to a full-ride) at Arizona State University. Brown adds that she never missed a single day of school in her four years at PCPA.
- Margarito Hernandez graduated in 2018 from PCPA with an associate degree from PC and earned the Obama scholarship to ASU as well. He wants to rid the world of hunger, and no one is betting against him!
- Brenda Elias came to PCPA struggling deeply with math and English. Through sheer grit, determination and hard work, she earned more than 50 college credits before graduation and is attending ASU on a full tuition grant.
- Arleen Ortiz was PCPA’s valedictorian in 2018, earned her associate degree at PC and is now attending ASU on the Obama scholarship. She also works part-time at the school while she pursues her degree to become a psychologist in her local community. She maintains higher than a 4.0 at ASU.
Academic excellence isn’t the only thing PCPA students are known for. Each year students donate thousands of hours of community service. Last year they spent 3,700 hours of community service in downtown metro Phoenix and surrounding cities working at food banks, churches, cleaning city streets and more.
It’s hard not to be impressed with the values and talent at PCPA. To learn more about Phoenix College Prep Academy go to https://www.phoenixcollege.edu/pc-prep-academy