Lowell students participate in College Application Week each fall.
Lowell High School, Lowell, Oregon
Students research a college and present it to their peers during a student-led college fair.
Summer school and after-school tutoring. These funds enabled students to earn the credit they needed to graduate. I can think of at least 11 students who would not have graduated over the course of the last 7 years if that opportunity had not existed. The students were able to get help with homework and projects and tutoring around high stakes testing. One-on-one tutoring and mentorship made all the difference in the lives of those students. Without GEAR UP funding, this would not have been possible.
Visiting colleges. It opened the eyes of students to the notion that college was "a real thing" and not something to be afraid of. GEAR UP sponsored many leadership workshops for students which also helped provide experiences outside of their community into a larger setting making it possible to meet new friends and network.
Growth mindset. GEAR UP was instrumental in bringing "growth mindset" to students and staff which helped to change thoughts around teaching and learning for staff and having students have more perseverance and less desire to "give up" on themselves.
Students attended EWEB's Utility Career Fair.
Before GEAR UP there was not a college-going culture. Students of course went to college, but there was not a common language around college readiness and no cohesive program to have students begin to think about college from the 6th grade up.
Now, many yearly activities are in place so that plans after high school and college and career discussions happen on a regular basis. All students go on college visits. Students are well-versed in what classes they need to be taking and passing to get into postsecondary educational settings. The graduation rate for students has made steady gains to the point where in 2020 the graduation rate was 96%. Many new challenging classes were added including an increase in AP and College Now classes.
Because of GEAR UP, hope is given, eyes are opened and lives are changed!
Lowell staff wear college gear monthly.
One of the reasons why GEAR UP has been so successful is that it is fully supported by the school staff including the school board, administrators, teachers and support staff. Also, parents and community are supportive of the program. Realizing that activities and events had to become part of the school institution and culture rather than an "after thought" is why this program has been successful.
The GEAR UP event that was most helpful for our school was the yearly SUCCESS retreat which provided a combination of workshops for teachers and time for staff to work together on the yearly school improvement plan that was driven by GEAR UP data. It can't be said enough how much that planning opportunity did to help staff work on concrete goals for school improvement.
GEAR UP's data collection is amazing. The data and GEAR UP mentors/coordinators were instrumental in helping to guide staff to goals that were meaningful and guaranteed to be successful. Additionally, embedding GEAR UP as a monthly agenda item at staff meetings kept our staff focused on the tasks and goals we had made around student achievement and school improvement.
Information and photos provided by GEAR UP coordinator Jeanie May and former principal Kay Graham.