When Renae Higgins (Brookfield Central ‘23) began her college education in the Fall of 2023, she may have been new to her campus but she was just two credits shy of Junior status at UW-Milwaukee. By taking advantage of the Elmbrook Promise, which strives to make at least 30 college credits available to every Elmbrook student before graduation, Renae had a total of 54 credits toward her degree, which will vastly speed up her path to a degree in Art Education.
Thanks to an Elmbrook educator, she found her passion for art education while in middle school. “I have loved art for as long as I can remember. When Nathan Knuth was my art teacher at Wisconsin Hills, he helped me gain confidence in the work that I made and his belief in me changed my life. His energy and intuition in the classroom made me want to help others get that same confidence in their art. He really showed me that there’s a path to apply my passion and skills in both art and helping others through teaching.”
Higgins took her first two Advanced Placement (AP) courses her Sophomore year and continued to take advantage of AP classes while also participating in Dual Enrollment courses offered through WCTC. Her focus on art led her to enroll in Elmbrook's Graphic Design Academy program, implemented in 2022, allowing her to earn the WCTC Digital Production Certificate while still in high school.
Renae also participated in the LAUNCH program which provides profession-based learning and project experiences with local program partners. Higgins involvement in the Future Teachers strand offered insights into her teaching interests and provided her with real-world experience in a classroom setting. Renae earned nine college credits by completing Introduction to Educational Inquiry, Educational Psychology and Introduction to Special Education. Her placement experiences in classrooms across the District affirmed her passion for teaching and provided perspectives that most future teachers encounter later in college.
Renae's college preparation experience was enhanced through her participation in the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program, which supported her skill development in organization, reading, note-taking, and collaboration. Renae found so much value in AVID that she signed up to be an AVID Tutor this year, even as she balances her own university course load. “The opportunities that Elmbrook has afforded me not only saved me money in college tuition costs, but also will help me get to the career I want much faster,” she reflected.
“I’m thankful that all of my credits transferred to UW-Milwaukee,” said Renae. “That is definitely something I advise students and families to take into account when they’re coordinating all of these courses and opportunities in high school.”
To encourage greater participation in college credit courses, we provide features and stories about our alumni as they benefit from the District’s Promise and strive to Become What’s Next. More stories of the Elmbrook Promise can be found at www.elmbrookschools.org/promise.
You can hear more from Renae in our Eduspeak episode available here.