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The GEAR UP Dream Team at South Umpqua School District brings together one teacher from each grade level, 7-12, and has helped GEAR UP transition from an activity-based program to an integrated program that is engrained in the district's culture and curriculum. Over the past two years, the team has helped develop yearly plans, overseen implementation of activities, attended GEAR UP conferences and professional development opportunities and evaluated effectiveness of GEAR UP plans and activities.
"GEAR UP is a district wide initiative," says Cecilia Ballardo, the GEAR UP coordinator at South Umpqua High School. "The GEAR UP Dream Team has been the vessel that has allowed the middle school and the high school to collaborate and work together as a whole, not as two separate entities. The right arm knows what the left hand is doing."
Increasing communication and aligning the program among staff has helped the South Umpqua GEAR UP program focus on common goals for student achievement, such as having 80% of high school students earn C's or better in all of their classes.
"The Dream Team has made GEAR UP much more fun!" says Laurie Collins, the GEAR UP coordinator at Coffenberry Middle School.
"We get together and talk ideas, share experiences, and plan new events. The collaboration helps me stay motivated and focused. I love it!"
South Umpqua has big plans to make their team even dreamier: including a district level staff member in their regular meetings, bringing building administrators and district level staff to GEAR UP conferences, and building a firm partnership with their local community college.