A School on the Move: Winton Middle School

Spring 2009 | | May 19, 2009 at 12:40 pm

Winton Middle School GEAR UP team at work: (left to right) Charlene Guidry, counselor; Natalie Garecht, Language Arts teacher; Jennifer Flamenco, ELD teacher; Diana Medina, Head Counselor; Donald West, Principal; Benjamin Leon, math teacher; and Karina Gutierrez, Parent Outreach Worker

Located in Alameda County in the city of Hayward and part of Hayward Unified School District, Winton Middle School enrolls 650 students in grades 7 and 8. In 2008 the main student ethnicities were 67% Hispanic, 12% African-American, 5% Filipino, 1% American Indian or Alaskan Native, 4% Asian, 3% Pacific Islander and 5% White (not of Hispanic origin). Seventy-seven percent of the students participate in the free or reduced price lunch program.  The API scores have remained at 651 in 2008. Donald West has been principal since 2006. The GEAR UP site contact is Sharon Jackson, math/science teacher. Sandy Carpenter-Stevenson is the Regional Coordinator.

An Interview with Donald West, Principal

Winton Middle School began participation in California GEAR UP in 2006. Please describe your school community at that time.

In 2006, Winton was faced with the challenge of adjusting to the third administrator in three years. It was a program improvement year five school with relatively novice teaching staff. The biggest challenge was addressing safety issues and ridding the school of its negative reputation. There was lack of academic alignment and high levels of rigor noted within the classrooms. Winton was and remains a Title 1 school with a Latino population approaching 70% of which 45% are English Learners. Our African American population (12%) still remains the lowest performing sub group, according to our last API scores.

What are some of the changes the school staff has made and is continuing to make to promote a college-going culture, especially in this past school year, 2008-2009?

When compared to 2006, we have added an additional . 80 FTE in the counseling department that is dedicated solely to academic counseling. Our school has also put forth more effort in recruiting and retaining more experienced teachers at the school. This year we held our first career day with great success and 31 professionals from the community volunteered to talk to our students about their careers. We continue to hold our Family University and this year we had almost 200 participants. We bring up college more in conversations with our students, parents, and staff. Our school is also more dedicated in providing alignment across the curriculum. Professional development has also addressed the importance of rigor in the classroom.

In general, what is the school faculty attitude toward the GEAR UP program and the Mission Statement, “Academic Excellence and College Access for ALL Students?”

The school staff’s attitude toward the GEAR UP program has been one of support and excitement. The staff is aware of the importance of providing our students with academic excellence and college access for all students. We have seen an overwhelming percentage of staff (94-97%) participating in the monthly college going activities (i. e. College Bingo, Jersey Day, College Gear Day, College Degrees, etc. ).

GEAR UP has asked all Continuing Sustainability Project schools to show continued measurable progress of the 5 GEAR UP sustainability indicators. How is your school Leadership Team addressing these expected outcomes?

  • Sustainability of the Leadership Team

We have meetings monthly as a Leadership Team to discuss activities that we need to promote school-wide that adhere to the GEAR UP philosophy. We are focusing on making sure that the composition of the team remains consistent for the next school year.

  • Academic Rigor

Academic Rigor is embedded beyond the Leadership Team. All teachers are collaborating on a weekly basis and discussing best practices which can provide our students with academic rigor in the class room. There has been a site-wide focus on increasing rigor, relevance, and relationships within the classroom. Staff has been provided professional development in SIOP strategies, Bloom’s Taxonomy, Reader’s Apprenticeship, Writer’s Workshop, Algebraic Thinking and Reasoning, Standard English Language Acquisition, and Equity. In addition we conduct walk-throughs by departments and grade level.

  • Academic Counseling

The counseling department is committed to meet at least once with each 7th grader and their parent to discuss an academic plan that can lead them to college. Student possible high school placement is reviewed for compliance with A-G requirements.

  • College and Financial Aid Information for students and families

There are many college information boards on campus, including the counseling office and different classrooms. Information is discussed in the Academic Planning sessions with the students and parents. Those sessions are held on an individual basis. College entrance requirements and methods of payment are discussed via facilitation of our school brochures.

  • Regular Involvement of Families

Our school holds quarterly Progress Report Nights where we offer information centered on creating a college going culture in the home. We have heightened our efforts with our Family University to increase family involvement and family awareness. Additionally, we have utilized our Parent Outreach Worker to further the outreach with parents who have found it challenging to be more involved in their child’s education.

What GEAR UP trainings, tools and resources have been most helpful to your Leadership Team?

The Leadership Team has really benefited from the Institutes that were offered this year. For example, hearing other schools discuss their ideas and challenges provided more tools for us to utilize on site. The Counseling Institute proved to be invaluable in that we were provided with an overwhelming amount of resources to help meet our student’s needs. The Institutes helped the Leadership Team reestablish its vision for the school community and its purpose in promoting college awareness.

GEAR UP facilitator Cloteal Herron interacts with participants at Family University Day.

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