GEAR UP Educational Trust Awards: Engaging Students And Parents

Spring 2008 | | June 4, 2008 at 11:23 am

Story Note:  The California GEAR UP Program has established Educational Trust Awards with Scholarshare for individual middle school students.  Award recipients are nominated by GEAR UP schools to receive these awards.  The purpose of the awards is to motivate students and their families in early secondary school to prepare academically for college and to provide approximately $2,500 (principal plus interest) in resources to defray the cost of college attendance at the relevant time.  The stipulation in establishing these Awards was that students must access them within one year after graduating from high school

When the Leadership Team at Live Oak Middle School learned of the opportunity to offer our students college scholarships, we were very excited!  In order to do that, we needed a place to start and decided to explore what other successful schools were doing. Armed with this information, we developed the best approach to meet our school’s needs.
We began by developing a timeline. First and foremost, we wanted to reach every 7th and 8th grade student to give them the opportunity to apply. We started with a mandatory parent meeting to explain the entire process from beginning to end.  A Saturday writing workshop was offered to help assist the students with their written essays. After the applications were turned in, our GEAR UP Committee screened and graded the applications. Grading was as follows: Attendance at the mandatory parent meeting, supplying social security number, neatly written application, parent and student signatures, 2.5 and above GPA, good attendance and few tardies, actively being involved in school and community, signature of a Live Oak teacher, and writing a 5 – paragraph essay on the student’s higher education goals. With that grading criterion, 20 finalists were chosen, ten 7th grade students and ten 8th grade students.

From there we spent time assisting the 20 finalists with an interview workshop, which involved two of our district superintendents. The superintendents coached the students with interview strategies. Topics ranged from speaking skills to first impression such as appropriate dress. Next, the GEAR UP Committee interviewed the finalists and our winners and alternates were chosen. Finally, the winners and alternates will be announced at the June end of the year awards ceremonies, as well as 8th grade students being announced at the 8th grade graduation ceremony.  

In closing, this has been a very positive experience. In total we had 45 students apply for the scholarship. Our students took full advantage of the opportunity to learn from this experience and possibly earn money for their college education.  

Story Contributed by Kim Merten, Counselor, Live Oak Middle School

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