National GEAR UP Week 2012
National GEAR UP week kicks off today
SEPTEMBER 10, 2012 – College and careers are a major theme in SAISD every day but will receive a special spotlight focus this week as 8th-graders participate in National GEAR UP Week, which commemorates the continuing success of Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs.
GEAR UP works to raise early awareness about the college process, provide opportunities for exposure to college life and ensure that students and their families have the information they need to make informed college decisions. All SAISD 8th-graders – the entire class of 2017 – are a part of the program.
This week’s activities will vary by middle school. For example, students at Twain Middle School will reflect upon their college and career goals, pen them and then display them in a “college and career access chain.” Poe Middle School students will create a “wall of dreams” to showcase their aspirations.
“According to research, the level of academic achievement that students attain by eighth grade is the best predictor of college and career readiness by high school graduation,” said Roxanne Rosales, executive director of Academic Support Services. “Since we know that fact, we want to help students internalize their plans, visualize themselves in college, set their college goal, write it down and share it with their friends, family and teachers.
Later in the week, students will also receive a 21st Century Scholar Certificate, outlining for them the resources available to them through graduation, including tutoring, mentoring, summer programs and college visits. The certificate also lays out student expectations: daily school attendance, daily reading and completion of college entrance exams and scholarship, financial aid and college applications.
GEAR UP 2 launched last school year, when this year’s 8th-graders were in the 7th grade, as the second generation of the program in SAISD. The first SAISD cohort to benefit from GEAR UP graduated in June 2012, after six years in the program. The current GU 2 students have been assigned college readiness coaches who will support and follow them through high school and their first year of college, thanks to a $21.5 million federal GEAR UP grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Education.
Along the way, the students will be encouraged to participate in college-related activities held throughout each school year, including:
- Informational events, such as fairs and college 101 classes for students and their parents on how to complete important paperwork, such as scholarship applications, financial aid and college applications;
- College visits, ranging from tours of in-town colleges to out-of-town visits to East Coast and West Coast universities; and
- Opportunities to connect, including a GEAR UP rally this fall, along with parent and student leadership seminars
A key factor to the success of the program is a strong collaborative relationship with local partners, including the University of Texas at San Antonio, the San Antonio Educational Partnership, Group Excellence, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Family Service Association, Generation Texas San Antonio, Princeton Review and Kaplan.