Lawton Public Schools is strengthening several successful education projects designed to improve college access and preparation in its middle schools, thanks to subgrants totaling $100,000 from Oklahoma GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs).
GEAR UP, a federally funded program administered by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, is designed to better prepare middle and high school students for college through academic preparation programs and scholarships for students, professional development activities for educators and college access information for students and parents.
GEAR UP awarded a total of nearly $600,000 to 23 school districts and sites across Oklahoma to help fund professional development for teachers as they adopt new classroom strategies proven to help students learn more effectively. The grants will also provide much-needed funding for student tutoring, mentoring, career exploration programs and ACT prep materials.
“Since 1999, GEAR UP has relied on partners with impact at the local level to assist in helping Oklahoma students better prepare for college,” said State Regents’ Chairman Bill W. Burgess Jr. “Students are more likely to respond to information coming from local sources they know and trust, and these subgrant funds help the school, community and college partners reach the students more effectively.”
“We are extremely pleased the GEAR UP College Access Subgrants will provide the Lawton School System with the opportunity to implement additional successful learning strategies in their schools,” said Chancellor Glen D. Johnson. “Research has proven these methods are effective in helping teachers better prepare students for college and for success in life.”
Lawton Public Schools will partner with Cameron University to implement “GEAR UP Central,” “GEAR UP Eisenhower,” “GEAR UP MacArthur” and “GEAR UP Tomlinson.”
“We are excited about the funding,” said Barry Beauchamp, superintendent of Lawton Public Schools. “It will allow us to work toward our goals of increasing the number of students who are prepared for college and strengthen our alliance between the schools, parents and community.”
The projects will implement three research-based, student-intervention programs designed to help teachers better understand how different students learn. They are: Dr. Ruby Payne’s “A Framework for Understanding Poverty,” which trains teachers in strategies for supporting children and parents who live in poverty; Thinking Maps ®, which trains teachers to use “visual thinking tools” in the classroom; and LOGIC, a sequence of workshops designed to provide 12 days of intensive professional development that focuses on educational leadership, guidance and curriculum.
“We are at a point where our students are transitioning and changing so rapidly that advisement programs such as GEAR UP are critical if teachers are to be successful in truly improving student academic performance,” Beauchamp said.
Also, the project participants will work with other college access programs. Cameron University’s Open Doors project will present workshops for students and teachers on needed skills and motivation necessary for students to complete secondary education and to enroll in and complete a program of postsecondary study. In addition, Cameron University will present professional development for teachers to increase the knowledge base of teachers, students and parents about college preparation.
“We are excited about this partnership,” said Dr. Cindy Ross, Cameron University president. “Preparing for college takes a commitment not only from the students and their families, but also from the educational institutions that serve them. This partnership between GEAR UP, Lawton Public Schools and Cameron University is an exemplary demonstration of the commitment needed from all levels to create academic success.”
The College Access Subgrant program began in 2006. Additional grants will be awarded annually through 2010.
“This project is a great opportunity for our students, our teachers and our community,” said Burgess. “As a State Regent, I am proud to be a part of this cooperative initiative that is working so hard to ensure the future of not only Lawton, but the entire state.”
Additional 2007 recipients include: Ardmore Middle School, Blackwell Public Schools; Canute Public Schools; Dewey Public Schools; Earlsboro Public Schools; Eldorado Public Schools; Elmore City/Pernell Public Schools; Fairview Public Schools; Gore Public Schools; Keys Public Schools; Jarman Middle School, Midwest City; Minco Public Schools; Nowata Public Schools; Sallisaw Public Schools; Springer Public Schools; Tahlequah Public Schools; Thomas-Fay-Custer Unified Schools; Weleetka Public Schools; and Wynona High School.
To qualify for the College Access Subgrants, school districts must provide services to students in grades seven through 12, must have 50 percent or more of enrolled students eligible for free or reduced lunches and must participate in ACT’s Educational Planning and Assessment System (EPAS), a comprehensive testing, guidance and career-planning program developed to strengthen student academic preparation. Additionally, school sites must not be previous recipients of GEAR UP funding during 1999-2005.