Early College High School (ECHS) joins New Hope High School and the Virtual Learning Academy as the newest School of Choice offering in Leander ISD. The school is an open enrollment program that blends college and high school coursework, enabling students to earn an associate’s degree (up to 60 hours or two years of college credit), tuition-free, while still enrolled in high school. The school has enrolled its inaugural class, welcoming over 100 freshmen to the Austin Community College (ACC): San Gabriel Campus for the 2022-23 school year. 

Leander ISD and ACC have partnered to provide access to college courses and a college atmosphere. This partnership is a transformative journey for ECHS students as ACC is graciously providing building space and classrooms to house incoming 9th graders at the San Gabriel campus in Leander.

“Students will experience their high school years while on a college campus and have access to resources provided by ACC. This authentic experience can be an inspiring opportunity for their future and help with the transition to a four-year university or career,” said LISD Assistant Superintendent of Pathways and Innovation Chrysta Carlin, Ed.D.

ECHS aims to draw students who:

  • Prefer a small school setting and personalized support post-secondary;
  • Have been historically underrepresented in LISD direct-to-college enrollment;
  • Are first generation college students;
  • Are academically minded.

ECHS students who complete all course requirements will graduate with a high school diploma, honors and an Associates Degree of Art in General Studies from Austin Community College. Although other LISD high schools offer dual credit enrollment, students at traditional LISD high school campuses can only earn between 3-24 college credit hours, and typically cannot enroll in college courses until they reach eleventh or twelfth grade. 

“I started thinking about ECHS because my parents suggested coming here,” said Sharon Muwanguzi, an incoming ECHS legacy student. “But, coming here is a good experience and getting an early degree helps me, because I want to be a pediatrician.”

Transportation will be available to ECHS students, and meals will be provided on campus. Medically trained personnel and student resource officers – in collaboration with ACC police department – will provide the necessary on-campus support and security, ensuring the well-being and safety of all students.

“The job that I want in the future involves a lot of going to college,” incoming ECHS student Valerie Ireta, who is hoping to someday work in the medical field, said. “The ECHS program just seemed like an opportunity to do something different and challenge myself.”

“The incoming ECHS inaugural class – known as the school’s ‘legacy’ students – have the opportunity to set the tone and shape the direction of the school,”  Kimberly Payne, ECHS Assistant Principal said. “They are creating the culture and climate for our future classes. And it’s a beautiful thing to see.”

“First and foremost, we designed LISD ECHS around the individual needs and desires of each scholar in attendance; student voice and choice drove our decisions for staffing, processes, structure, clubs and organizations students will interact with on a daily basis.” said Clay Currier Ed.D, principal of ECHS, NHHS, VLA and senior director of Innovative Learning Programs.    

The application process for the 2023-24 school year will open in February 2023. More information can be found on the ECHS website or by contacting ECHS staff at [email protected] or 512-223-2655.