Principal and Leadership Team Institute, Burbank October 11, 2006Winter 2007 | Admin | January 21, 2007 at 5:42 pm
Emerson (Ralph Waldo) Middle School, Los Angeles Unified School District
Although located in Westwood near the UCLA campus, the school population of 1433 students in grades 6-8 also includes 282 students who live in central Los Angeles in overcrowded school areas. These students come by school bus 40 minutes to one hour each way. To build a college-going culture, the staff used various strategies, such as assigning career and college research with specific topics for each of the three grade levels, including completing a college application and admissions essay for 8th graders; and developing a “College Corner” in the library with college pennants and posters.
The staff is using other resources, School Improvement and Title I monies, to sustain the college-going environment after the two year California GEAR UP funding period.
Jackie Robinson Academy, Long Beach Unified School District
Three years ago Jackie Robinson Academy became a California GEAR UP school. Their most important first step was developing the school vision, “To create a college-going environment in which students will be prepared academically for the rigorous coursework in college.” Team building with teachers occurred through attendance at professional development conferences and workshops. Some of the strategies instituted to create the environment were hanging college pennants and banners, giving college bumper stickers to parents, and displaying “College Bound” posters that are created by taking pictures of selected students at the school.
Teachers are teaching the students to be advocates for their education in high school, insisting on the correct placement in math and foreign language classes when they have successfully completed prerequisites.
With a high principal turnover at the school, the first step was to reassure the staff that the new principal in 2002 would stay for five years. This commitment reduced the teacher turnover from 12 in 2005 to 5 in 2006. In the first year of GEAR UP, the focus was on raising awareness and providing information to teachers. The Leadership Team developed faculty buy-in in several ways, such as using the “College: Making It Happen” booklets for each student in the social studies class with a homework assignment and a parent tear-off; and having a “College Corner” at every evening event with handouts for families.
An innovative professional development plan allowed teachers to form study groups to research information and develop lessons and materials directly related to their areas of interest. As a result, teachers designed lessons with greater rigor and higher expectations for successful student outcomes.