CEDAR HILL (CBS11) – Cedar Hill teacher Jeremy Taulton remembers his high school days like they were yesterday. And he’s not far off.

The 2014 graduate of Cedar Hill’s Collegiate High School returned to the district last fall to teach–college degree in hand– at the ripe old age of 20.

“On Fridays, we have dress down day, where we can wear a college shirt and jeans and for the first couple of weeks, the teachers would yell at me in the cafeteria, telling me to ‘sit down’ with the kids,” said Taulton.

Taulton, who received his degree in just two years at Tarleton State University, now teaches 8th grade algebra at Cedar Hill’s Collegiate Academy Middle School. And get this: his students think he’s old. But, also kinda cool.

“We can have ethical conversations and we can push each other and talk about our dreams together and make sure that everything lines up so that the classroom is extending into the real word and make sure students are flourishing as they should be,” said Taulton.

Although programs that allow students to graduate high school with associates degrees have become more common in North Texas, the Cedar Hill Collegiate High School was one of the first in the country devoted entirely to dual degree programs.

Five years ago, CBS11 spoke with students in the first graduating class who expected the program to save them both time and money.

Taulton confirms that it has delivered.

“It saved me thousands of dollars and I ended up not having to take out any students loans because of it– so graduating with my associates degree at 18 saved me so much money,” he said.

With skyrocketing student loan debt now a national financial concern, Taulton says his experience at Collegiate High School helped him prepare for college in practical ways as well as academic– and he’s grateful that he’s not saddled with students loans like many of his peers.

“I hear them talk about it. But, I can’t relate to it… because I found a way to have enough scholarships. I found a way to get my room and board paid for by being an RA on campus… all of that came from being prepared through the collegiate high school.”

The experience, he says, was about more than being in a hurry. The Collegiate High School helped him focus on what he wanted and how to get there, and a salary doesn’t hurt either.

According to a district spokesperson, beginning teachers in the district now earn about $52,000 a year.

“I dream of one day becoming a superintendent,” says Taulton who adds that he’s most excited about the head start he’s gotten toward pursing his career goals. And he’s well on his way. The now 21-year-old get his master’s degree in December.

“Life is good,” he admits with a big laugh. “Life is definitely good.”