But Zenobia was an honors student at Portage High School, where, with the encouragement of her teachers, her counselor and her mother, she took Advanced Placement classes and earned some college credits that are giving her a jump on her peers.
Zenobia was so concerned about being college-ready, that over the summer she sat in on a remedial math class offered at her high school. She wasn’t required to do that, but she’s convinced it helped her pass the math placement test at IUPUI, meaning she won’t have to pay for a non-credit-earning remedial math class in college.
There are more than 2,600 kids at Portage High, but principal Caren Swickard knows Zenobia and remembers her as “an awesome young lady” who exuded both a quiet confidence and a willingness to ask for help when needed.
Zenobia came to IUPUI early to get herself more college-ready, enrolling in the intensive, two-week Summer Bridge program. That should help raise the odds, too: Students who go through Summer Bridge do better academically, earning higher Grade Point Averages, than their counterparts.
When I met Zenobia, the only question she didn’t have answered was where she could find a church close to campus like her home church where the congregation offered her love and support.
Common Core as a tool for college-readiness is worthy of debate. But it’s an empty one if it doesn’t include the voices of students like Zenobia.
Columns by Maureen Hayden, Statehouse bureau chief for CNHI’s Indiana newspapers, appear Mondays in The Herald Bulletin.