California GEAR UP Facilitation Services Support School Improvement

Winter 2007 | | January 21, 2007 at 5:34 pm

by Gina Rodriguez, Professional Development Manager

One of the most exciting and dynamic school-based services offered to California GEAR UP middle schools is facilitation. Facilitation supports GEAR UP Leadership Teams by providing schools with a trained facilitator to guide the conversations as the team moves the process of creating a college-going culture into the wider school improvement effort.

Evaluation data of middle schools participating in California GEAR UP during the past 5 years indicates that schools integrating the GEAR UP process into the on-going school improvement efforts are able to focus faculty and families on student achievement, expectations and college.

The GEAR UP Facilitator works closely with the Leadership Team, which is led by the principal of the school. Focus area, outcomes, agenda and timeframe are determined together. Although the GEAR UP Facilitator is the lead facilitator, Leadership Team members are encouraged and expected to co-facilitate. The goal of the GEAR UP facilitator is to build capacity among Leadership Team members and train them to be effective facilitators themselves.

The role of the facilitator working with any given school or team is to:

  • Guide the conversation
  • Model professional dialogue
  • Provide a safe environment for active participation
  • Encourage participation
  • Hold the vision and refocus when necessary
  • Ask provocative questions
  • Carry-out intended agenda
  • Assist in the change process
  • Avoid imparting information
  • Revisit the past only as it assists in moving forward

GEAR UP Facilitation Services are available to schools interested in using the “School Self Assessment Rubric (SSAR),” the “Perceptions of Attitudes and Readiness for Change” and other tools or processes used at Institutes and Forums. Any current California GEAR UP school may schedule facilitation services by contacting the assigned Regional Coordinator or Gina Rodriguez by email at

Schools met the GEAR UP Facilitation Team at the 2006 Fall Leadership Institutes. These facilitators come to GEAR UP with many career and life experiences. Four have been GEAR UP facilitators for 6 years and five for 2 years.

Eleanor Hysell – Northern California

Eleanor works as the school counselor and site coordinator for the local GEAR UP Partnership at Anderson Middle School.

Alejandra Juarez – Northern/Southern California

Alejandra has worked for a number of years advocating for underserved populations. She is currently working with a Migrant Education Program in the Fresno area.

Carlos Lemus – Southern California

Carlos has been a teacher for 11 years and continues teaching during summers to stay fresh with strategies and implement new ones. He is a school consultant and leadership team/principal coach.

Michele Molitor – Northern California

Michele has worked for 6 years as a professional business coach and consultant, trainer, facilitator, speaker and author. She also taught a group of men at San Quentin State Prison for 2 ½ years.

Vicki Rice – Southern California

Vicki has worked as a Special Education teacher for 15 years. She is currently a school consultant and leadership team/principal coach.

Barbara Sedano – Southern California

Barbara recently finished working as a high school English teacher and department chairperson for 30 years. In addition, she is a union activist and has been a multicultural trainer/facilitator for 15 years.

Susan Sides – Southern California

Susan retired after 37 years teaching in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). She enjoyed every year in the classroom.

Jon Sides – Southern California

Jon retired after 31 years teaching and counseling in LAUSD. He and Susan raised 3 children.

Vicki Siegel – Southern California

Vicki has extensive experience working in the classroom and as a LAUSD administrator. Currently she works as a coach and facilitator. In her free time she travels.

Mary Unverferth – Southern California

Mary has vast experience working as a program evaluator, grant writer and facilitator. When not working, she enjoys her time with her four children and grandson.

Left to right, 1st row: Alejandra Juarez, Jon Sides, Gina Rodriguez; 2nd row: Vicki Rice, Susan Sides; 3rd row: Michele Molitor, Eleanor Hysell, Vicki Siegel, Barbara Sedano, and Mary Unverferth (Not pictured: Carlos Lemus)

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