From the time Ta'Keisha Heathington was a little girl, she knew she wanted to eventually become a doctor.
When she starts her senior year at Tyner Academy of Math, Science and Technology this fall, she will be working to make that dream a reality by enrolling in the county's first-ever anatomy and physiology early college class taught on a high school campus.
"The opportunity for the students is the most exciting thing about the class," said instructor Victoria Jones. "Our students have a lot of disadvantages and this is something we can offer them to put them ahead of the game."
As part of Chattanooga State's Early College Program, students who are approved to take the class will be admitted to the college and will receive college credit that applies at Chattanooga State or can transfer to other institutions of higher learning, said Chattanooga State Dean of School Relations and University Articulation Dr. Robert M. Penn.
"Because of the limited lab facilities and faculty who're able to teach this class, we haven't been able to offer it on a high school campus before," he said. "Tyner has the excellent lab facilities, models and the equipment they need to sustain a college-level class. This is an interesting and exciting project."
Over the summer Jones said she will partner with Chattanooga State professors to make sure the curriculum closely aligns with the college's. Most colleges and universities, including Chattanooga State, require students pursuing certain scientific or medical degrees to take two anatomy and physiology classes, so it is important to cover the same material in order for students to be able to advance, said Jones.
For students like Heathington and her classmates Jasmine Moss and Aldazia Walker, the class is also a chance for new opportunities.
"I chose to take this class because I want to cut open a cat," said Walker, who plans to become a physical therapist. "We've never dissected any animals before."
Tyner teacher Joey Gaby, who will also teach a new early college class in chemistry next school year, said the new courses are creating a buzz around campus.
"Now that we have the option to offer two college-level science classes, the interest has increased," she said. "This is a great opportunity for students who are ready for a challenge instead of just vegging out senior year."
Students must apply for all early college classes and are admitted based on standardized test scores. There is currently still room in both classes for interested and approved students, said Gaby.
"In my 13-year tenure at Tyner I've grown to love the kids in this community, and they deserve opportunities as much as any other kid," she said. "There are good kids at our school that don't always get recognized."
For more information about Tyner's early college classes, call the school at 855-2635.