Susan Betcher

Career Coach Helps High School Students Get Taste Of College

susan betcherIs LFCC career coach Susan Betcher passionate about helping her students succeed? You betcha!

For the past six years, Betcher, who hails from Wisconsin, has been guiding students into dual-enrollment classes – those for which they earn both high school and college credits. She divides her time between Luray and Page County high schools.

Betcher gives presentations to students and parents in ninth-grade, encouraging them to take a dual-enrollment class beginning their sophomore year.

“I want them to get a taste of the rigor that will be expected if they go on to college,” she says.

Betcher is clearly getting through to the students of Page County – 95 Luray High School students took at least one-dual enrollment class last spring, as did 96 Page County High School students. In the fall of 2017, a total of 247 students from both schools were dual enrolled.

Last May, 35 Luray High students earned either their associate degree or received recognition as governor’s scholars, meaning they’d attained at least 15 college credits – all prior to their graduation from high school. Page County High boasted 18 such students.

Betcher has seen the positive effects of dual enrollment in her own home.

“My kids were dual-enrolled and benefited so highly from it,” she says.

Betcher’s son, Nathan, was valedictorian at Luray High School in 2007, and went on to the U.S. Air Force Academy. He had attended the Massanutten Regional Governor’s School in Mt. Jackson.

Nathan later earned a master’s degree from Harvard University.

“But, it all started at Lord Fairfax,” Betcher says.

Her daughter, Amy, was also dual-enrolled through the governor’s school. This later allowed her to take some classes that were simply for her own enjoyment while attending James Madison University.

Amy went on to work for AmeriCorps after graduation, and is now a member of the Hot Shots firefighting crew in New Mexico.

“I tell my students’ parents that I never see my kids – they’re gone for six months at a time – so I’m adopting their children,” Betcher says. “I will help them throughout the college enrollment process. I’ll do all of the steps with them if they want me to.”

Generally, students opting to do dual-enrollment will take one class their sophomore year, with more being added in junior and senior years. More and more are earning their associate degrees while still high school students.

“My goal personally is to get kids to take at least one college-level class while they’re still in high school,” Betcher says.

A high school student pays approximately $200 to take a dual-enrollment course through LFCC. Unfortunately, there are academically capable students whose families cannot afford the cost. Several years ago, the LFCC Foundation established a dual-enrollment scholarship fund.

“A donation to this fund will help a student earn college credit in high school,” explains Liv Heggoy, executive director of the foundation. “This opportunity could change their future.”

Betcher and her husband moved to Page County 27 years ago and fell in love with it. Betcher worked as a GED teacher at the Page County Technical Center for 12 years.

Many of the people she helped earn their GED are now the parents of students she is enrolling into LFCC – quite a few are the first generation in their family to attend college.

“It’s so rewarding to see my work coming full circle,” Betcher says.

You can learn more about dual enrollment at lfcc.edu/dual. For more about the LFCC Educational Foundation, visit lfcc.edu/foundation.

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