August 29, 2014 — Amy Radik
Courtney Egelston grew up in Glen, NY on her family’s dairy farm. She attended FM as an Early Admission student while a senior at Fonda-Fultonville High School.
“I took basic college requirements at FM to get those classes out of the way before transferring,” says Courtney. After graduation, Courtney earned a B.A. in Magazine Journalism and a B.S. in Political Science from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University (SU). She is currently finishing a Master’s in Education with a specialization in Urban Leadership from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, where she resides.
“I would never have been able to afford tuition at SU if it weren’t for FM’s Early Admission program, enabling me to take classes while still in high school for a fraction of the cost of the bigger institutions,” Courtney says. “In addition, taking courses early at FM helped me speed up my Bachelor’s process; I graduated from college at the age of 20 and immediately started work. Without FM, I may have needed to wait to do these things.”
During the last few years, Courtney’s career goals have changed. “During my time at FM and Syracuse, I wanted to be a journalist. Upon graduation from SU, I joined Teach for America (Dallas-Fort Worth) and started teaching English I in the Dallas Independent School District (DISD). After several years in the classroom, I transitioned into school leadership,” she says.
Courtney is a Personalized Learning Manager to develop a new, personalized learning high school in Dallas ISD. “I’m funded through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and DISD to work full-time on the creation and implementation of a school that will tailor students’ instruction individually to them, slated to open fall 2015,” Courtney explains. “The Innovation, Design, Entrepreneurship Academy (IDEA) would focus on using competency-based learning so that students progress through courses based on mastery – not seat time, creating applied learning opportunities through community partnerships and an internship program, and developing the values-based skills students need for post-collegiate success. Our school will focus on developing innovative thinking and an entrepreneurial spirit in students. By personalizing learning, we ensure our school doesn’t give a one-size-fits-all education to one-of-a-kind kids.”
Courtney says both her high school experience and the ability to enroll at FM as a 16-year-old were what inspired her current work; providing choice options for high school students, ensuring kids can earn college credit when they’re ready and helping guide students through the post-graduation world.
“Both my older sister and younger brother attended FM as Early Admission students. Because of this, all three of us were able to graduate college early and start our career paths,” she says.
When asked why FM would be a good choice for others, Courtney had this to say, “FM is a great, cost-effective, local option for college students who are getting started. Classes are engaging, rigorous, and affordable, which makes FM a great place to begin a college degree. I thoroughly enjoyed my classes at FM, especially English and Political Science, which sparked great discussions and introduced me to new ideas. For one assignment, the English professor had us read a short story, Joyas Voladoras by Brian Doyle. To this day, it is still my favorite piece; I re-read it a few times a month.”