Some Thoughts from Principals about Connecting to GEAR UP

Summer 2006 | | September 21, 2006 at 4:52 pm

What does a principal need to do not only to be more effective but also to integrate the ideas of California GEAR UP into their school? These are some reflections from principals who are changing their school culture into a college-going culture.

Jackman Middle School Principal William Del Bonta on “Vision”
The main component in school reform is VISION. What we did to clearly define the vision of this school and, more importantly, to get staff to buy into that vision is spend a day exploring the past, identifying unifying principles, and sharing the principal’s vision with the staff. The first was done by having the staff develop a timeline that listed events, programs, and people’s contributions. These were added to a wall-sized timeline by members of the staff working in groups defined by the amount of time that they have been on site.
Interestingly enough, this process becomes very positive—with people ignoring the negatives of past school history and sometimes previous administrations—and clearly links the things people consider important over the previous years with what is important today. It allows the principal’s vision to make connections to the past and bridge to the future.

Ranchos Middle School Principal Ruben Diaz on “Time Management and Priorities”
Being a California GEAR UP school has allowed the staff to assess our programs and prioritize where we needed to spend our time. During our first year the staff identified four areas of focus; namely, Learning Community, Rigorous Academic Curriculum, Intensive Academic Support, and Family-Neighborhood-School Supports. We set out to build on those areas as we planned the opening of our new campus which happened in 2005, moving to a new campus site and growing from 224 to 310 students for grades 7-8 in one year. We utilized our time at the Institute and Forum trainings to develop specific goals and action plans, including a weekly parent newsletter, development of an interactive website, development of school-wide writing standards, development of new courses and ways to support our struggling students. Each action plan was put into place to address one area of concern. In addition, we also focused on communicating with our parents and community-at- large.

Longfellow Middle School Principal Rebecca Cheung on “Resources”
GEAR UP is a compliment and enhancement to the work at Longfellow. The program gave us additional tools and resources for continuing our efforts to provide a high quality education for each student.

Fairgrove Academy Principal Penny Fraumeni on “Partner Services and Developing College Awareness”
GEAR UP has been a tremendous help to Fairgrove Academy in starting up and actually having our first ever AVID class in our Master schedule. Our students are excited about AVID, and our staff is enthusiastic about all that the program has offered and done for our kids. GEAR UP also got us up and running with our weekly in-classroom broadcasts, highlighting and featuring teachers and the colleges or universities they went to for preparation for their careers in education. Each Wednesday the entire school hears about a different college or university and the students begin to realize that they too can attend these wonderful schools. What a great incentive for our students in their future goals and desires! GEAR UP has also allowed us the opportunity to take field trips for parents to the local colleges and universities in our area to show them that their children can and should go on to post high school education. This has been a tremendous learning curve for both our parents and students, and we thank GEAR UP for the funding and opportunities to make this all happen for them.

Leave a Reply