The University of Maine at Presque Isle and the Caribou Regional Technology Center have signed an articulation agreement that will allow Aroostook County students to earn college credit for the high school level Criminal Justice classes they take at CRTC, and get a head start on a Criminal Justice degree from the University.
CRTC and UMPI officials held a press conference and signing ceremony on Tuesday, Nov. 8 at the technology center to announce the collaboration.
"We are so pleased to be establishing this connection with the Caribou Regional Technology Center and creating a path for high school students who are serious about getting the best comprehensive Criminal Justice education available in the region," President Don Zillman said. "It is so important for students to have opportunities like this at the high school level to better prepare them for college and their future careers and the University is delighted to be a part of making this happen."
As outlined in the articulation agreement, students who take part in CRTC's Criminal Justice program and receive at least 85% as a final grade will have three elective Criminal Justice credits transferred to UMPI to be applied toward their Bachelor's or Associate's degree in Criminal Justice.
According to CRTC Director Ralph Conroy, "This collaborative agreement provides a great opportunity for our students to make a seamless transition into the Criminal Justice program at UMPI. We are always looking for ways to let parents and students know about the valuable training we provide. Having the University recognize this training and reward it with college credit will help validate what we are teaching here at the technology center."
The center's Criminal Justice Program was the only one if its kind at the high school level in Aroostook County until this year. According to Reed Nonken, the CRTC instructor who oversees the program and is a police officer himself, "What students get is rigorous coursework and hands-on experience augmented with sessions from industry professionals: it is three periods a day, five days a week, all year long. The program looks at the entire Criminal Justice system, from law enforcement to adjudication to corrections."
Students from high schools in Caribou, Presque Isle, Limestone, Fort Fairfield, Easton, Washburn and Ashland are able to take advantage of this CRTC program, which is one of seven certified programs of its kind in the State of Maine.
"My role as an educator is to do the best I can to pass on the knowledge and experiences I have had to the student. The previous thinking was that when they left high school, our job was done, but I see this as our opportunity to bridge the gap and provide more influence at the high school level on their continued education," Nonken said. "And it's showing the value of the technical program. There's so much advantage to this combination: a program at the technology center translating to a two- or four-year degree – that's terrific."
Nonken said that connecting with UMPI's Criminal Justice Program in particular will continue the focus his students have had on "a deeper understanding of why we do what we do in Criminal Justice."
"Rather than traditional Criminal Justice programs at the high school level focusing on how to be a police officer, we try to look at the 'why' instead of just the 'how to.'" Nonken said. "This is something that they stress in the Criminal Justice Program at UMPI as well, so it made excellent sense to partner with them."
Nonken said the technology center and its steering committee worked hard to improve and refine its Criminal Justice program in order to make it a "college prep level" course, which served as a major catalyst for the establishment of the articulation agreement with UMPI.
"We are impressed with the depth of the curriculum offered by Nonken in the Caribou Regional Technology Center's Law Enforcement program and feel confident that students who excel in this course work will be well prepared for our program at UMPI," Dr. Lisa Leduc said. "This agreement provides the students with access to college credit in high school, helping them transition into post secondary education, as well as giving them a concrete and realistic understanding of the challenges of this career path. As a member of the steering committee for the program and a guest speaker in the classes, I am able to connect with high school students from across the County and am always excited when I see them again a year or two later succeeding in my freshman classes."
UMPI's Criminal Justice program combines rigorous coursework and practical experience with the most comprehensive overview of the criminal justice system offered in northern Maine. Students study all aspects of crime and societal reactions to crime, including political, economic, and cultural patterns that shape definitions and theories of crime and influence policy choices about how to respond to certain categories of crime. Students also have an opportunity to complete an internship with a criminal justice agency during their senior year and are required to participate in service learning experiences in several courses.
With the articulation agreement in place, students will be able to take advantage of the college credit option starting this spring.
For more information about the articulation agreement and UMPI and CRTC's Criminal Justice offerings, contact Nonken at 493-4270 or Leduc at 768-9436.