LEAD students Aicha Sacko, Shanelle Gordon, Rahiem Maldonado and Jenee Cordis pose together with their Rutgers hoodies at the LEAD celebration.

For the second year, LEAD Charter School has four students participating in Rutgers University’s dual enrollment program, which offers high school students a taste of the college experience. The four LEADEers – Shanelle Gordon, Jenee Cordis, Aisha Sacko and Rahiem Maldonado – are among 90 Newark students pulling double duty in high school and college this semester.

Thanks to LEAD’s partnership with the Newark City of Learning Collaborative, or NCLC, our students are among 14 schools including, People’s Preparatory Charter School, Great Oaks Legacy Charter High School and St. Benedict’s Preparatory School, that were invited to enroll in a 3-credit dual enrollment course. 

“Our mission drives us to create opportunities and pathways toward success for our young people. Through partnerships with NCLC and Rutgers, we’re able to expose our young people to post-secondary pathways we’re given an opportunity to offer our students another avenue toward their personal professional goals,” said Rana Hamed, Graduate and Career Pathways Manager at Newark OYN.  “We’re dedicated to opening doors thought closed to our students.”    

Aicha Sacko and her father pose together at LEAD Charter School’s celebration of the Trimester 2 and our Rutgers’ dual enrollment.

Aicha Sacko, one of LEAD’s dual-enrollment students said she was excited about the dual-enrollment experience as a chance to “be around people who aren’t your age, but have already gone through this,” she said. “You have to be responsible for yourself – your homework, talking to your teacher if you need any help or tutoring. They’re not really on your back for it. You’re basically an adult there.”

The dual-enrollment courses vary from a Colloquium in Arts, Culture, and Media; Principles of Psychology, Race and Ethnicity in the US, Portuguese Literature in English Translation, Everyday Data and History of Newark. The four LEADers attended their first Arts, Culture, and Media class January 21, and throughout the course, they will keep a daily journal of the class experience. Last year, six LEADers participated in the dual enrollment program, and afterward, two enrolled in college and one joined the Naval Academy.

The NCLC is an organization that provides college services throughout Newark. It’s 2025 initiative is focused on expanding the college-going experience in Newark through increasing public awareness, supporting pre-college pathways and working to break down barriers of completion for low-income, first-generation college students. 

“Dual enrollment at Rutgers University-Newark complements NCLC’s objectives in achieving citywide impact by creating viable college pathways and supporting the development of a consistent college-going culture across all high schools,” said NCLC Executive Director Reginald Lewis.

“Working with these combined classes is without doubt one of the most rewarding experiences of my college teaching career,” said Ian Watson, Director of the Theatre Program and the Urban Civic Initiative at Rutgers-Newark who teaches the Arts, Culture, and Media Colloquium. “Within the first two to three classes the distinctions between undergraduates and high schoolers has vanished…high school students realize a college career is a genuine possibility for them. The Rutgers students walk away with a better understanding of the community around them and how much they have in common with their fellow citizens who have not had the same opportunities they have had.”

To learn more about the NCLC’s 2025 initiative, visit nclc2025.org.