MSSM, UMPI sign learning agreement

12 years ago

MSSM, UMPI sign learning agreement


Photo courtesy of Christine Grillo

    THE COLLABORATIVE LEARNING agreement signed on May 16 in Limestone will allow Maine School of Science and Mathematics students the opportunity to receive college credits for the highly advanced courses they take at the magnet school; college credits will be awarded to students through the University of Maine at Presque Isle. From left, MSSM Executive Director Luke Shorty, UMPI President Dr. Donald Zillman, UMPI Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Michael Sonntag and MSSM Director of Advancement Kate Reilly sign the agreement while students look on.

    LIMESTONE — The signing of a collaborative learning agreement last Wednesday means that students of the Maine School of Science and Mathematics students can earn college credits through the University of Maine at Presque Isle for the university-level courses they take.    Standard Advanced Placement (AP) courses that are offered at high schools nationwide have been taught at MSSM since it first opened in 1995, but students of the magnet school often excel to courses that surpass the AP level. Despite their comprehension of upper-level college courses, an avenue for those students to obtain college credits for their efforts didn’t exist.
    That is, until officials with MSSM and UMPI signed the unique collaborative learning agreement on May 16.
    “For years, MSSM has sought a way to recognize the college-level work that our students do; we’re very grateful to UMPI for finally making that possible,” said MSSM Executive Director Luke Shorty. “We offer many AP classes that give students the opportunity to earn credit through the College Board’s AP tests, but many of our courses are so unique and advanced that the College Board doesn’t offer tests for them,”
    A few of the college-level subjects MSSM’ers successfully complete include multivariable calculus, applied genetics and biotechnology, and literary theory.
    “This agreement finally gives students in those classes an opportunity to get credit for their work,” Shorty said. “MSSM is proud to be the only high school in Maine with such a comprehensive early-college agreement with a university and we thank UMPI for making it possible.”
    As part of the agreement, a process is being put in place to award UMPI credit for specific MSSM courses, based on syllabi and texts approved by UMPI faculty members, to MSSM students who meet admissions standards set by UMPI.
    Officials explained that the process will review selected MSSM courses to determine if they are equivalent in content and rigor to UMPI courses, determining whether MSSM faculty members are qualified to be UMPI adjunct instructors so they can deliver approved courses, and then approving specific courses so that MSSM students enrolled in them can receive UMPI credit for the classes.
    Shorty and UMPI President Don Zillman held a short press conference at the magnet school in Limestone and ceremoniously signed the agreement, officially giving MSSM students the opportunity to receive UMPI credit for select MSSM courses they take that are taught by UMPI adjunct-qualified instructors. Shorty and Zillman were joined by UMPI Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Michael Sonntag and MSSM Director of Advancement Kate Reilly for the announcement and signing ceremony.
    “We’re very pleased to be making even stronger connections with a local institution that has been nationally recognized as an elite public high school and to be providing their students with this unique opportunity,” President Zillman said. “This is a special endorsement by UMPI of the quality of MSSM’s faculty and courses. It is specifically because of the faculty’s excellent academic qualifications and the academic rigors of their classes that we are able to make this agreement happen.”
    Provost Sonntag explained that UMPI and MSSM’s faculty and administration have worked for months to put together this agreement. Previously, Sonntag served as the Interim Executive Director of MSSM during the 2010-11 school year and was able to observe first-hand the need to connect magnet school students with apt college credits recognizing their work.
    “There are several early college credit programs out there, but I believe this one stands alone in providing University approval of existing high school courses. We have vetted these courses, the MSSM faculty and the students through the same sort of process we would any on campus. And while it took a while to make all the pieces fit, we’re very pleased with what this agreement means for both institutions,” Sonntag said. “One of our hopes is that it may encourage these MSSM students to attend college at a University of Maine System school and help to increase the number of science and math graduates in the state of Maine.”
    Additional information about MSSM can be obtained by visiting, and information about UMPI can be obtained by visiting