Feb 062013

By Sam Conner
The Winslow Unified School District has received a grant from the Northern Arizona University (NAU) Phoenix Campus for the GEAR UP program. GEAR UP, which stands for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Under-graduate Programs, is a free program that helps students to succeed in school.
Winslow GEAR UP coordinator Whitney Gilmore recently gave a presentation on the program to parents of seventh grade students who may be interested in the program. She would be working with those students through their education in the Winslow system and through their first year of college.
This is a grant program and, unless the school receives another grant, would not be available to other classes. Gil-more said, however, that Winslow High School has excellent counselors, and students can all get valuable help in their pursuit of a valuable and successful higher education.
It also helps families and students learn about choices for education after high school and how to pay for it. GEAR UP believes that all students should have the opportunity to go to college if they work hard, take the right courses and stay in school. GEAR UP also believes that planning future success should begin with students and families in seventh grade and continue through 12th grade. For students who attend colleges in Arizona after their high school graduation, services will continue through their important first year of college.
GEAR UP provides for coordinators in each school district whose job is to help GEAR UP students succeed. The coordinators make arrangements for services to help students succeed academically, such as mentoring, tutoring, study skills workshops and summer enrichment programs on college campuses. They also arrange for students to learn about colleges and future career options.
The coordinator will “move up” with the current seventh grade students each year through 12th grade, and will continue to arrange services and activities that meet students’ needs at each grade level.
GEAR UP began in 1999 and has had great results, including better student grades and attendance, higher test scores, increased enrollment in courses that prepare students for college, lower high school drop-out rates and in-creased college enrollment rates.
According to experts, when parents are involved in their child’s education, the student’s grades, attendance and behavior improve. In short, when parents encourage learning, their child is more successful. GEAR UP provides many opportunities for parents and students to learn together about what it takes to be successful in school now and to plan for the future. These family events will be arranged at times that are convenient for most parents. GEAR UP also invites parents to join students for college tours, beginning in the 2013-14 school year.
GEAR UP is always interested in hearing from parents about how the program is benefiting their student and any suggestions they may have to improve the program.
The Winslow school system will likely learn much about what can be done to help this special group of students succeed, and will be looking for ways to help those succeed who do not have the benefit of the grant.