Area schools learn how Eastern’s $17 million GEAR UP grant will benefit students and teachers


WILBURTON, OK (Nov. 30, 2017) – More than 125 area public school teachers, counselors, and administrators met at Eastern Oklahoma State College to learn how the college’s $17 million GEAR UP grant will help them prepare students for postsecondary education.

The Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) is a federal initiative to increase the number of low-income students who enter and successfully transition into postsecondary education. Eastern will receive $17,091, 200 over the next seven years to help serve students in 39 partner schools.

Eastern’s President Dr. Stephen Smith welcomed the participants and stressed the value the GEAR UP program.

“This is Eastern’s third GEAR UP grant,” Smith said. “We have seen the benefits this program adds to a student’s public school experience. The GEAR UP team provides guidance to students, including one-on-one counseling, to help them find their career and postsecondary education path.”

The GEAR UP—Ignite Belief program, which starts immediately, will serve current sixth and seventh grade students throughout high school graduation and college admission. The grant serves 39 partner schools in nine counties, including Antlers, Atoka, Bokoshe, Buffalo Valley, Cameron, Canadian, Clayton, Coalgate, Crowder, Eufaula, Fanshawe, Frink?Chambers, Haileyville, Harmony, Hartshorne, Indianola, Keota, Krebs, Lane, LeFlore, McAlester, McCurtain, Moyers, Panama, Panola, Pittsburg, Porum, Poteau, Quinton, Rattan, Savanna, Shady Point, Spiro, Stringtown, Talihina, Tannehill, Whitesboro, Wilburton and Wister.

GEAR UP Project Director Linda Morgan outlined the objectives of the grant which are: 1) Increase GEAR UP student performance/preparation for postsecondary education; 2) Increase the rate of high school graduation and participation in postsecondary education for GEAR UP students; and 3) Increase students’ and their families’ knowledge of postsecondary education options, preparation and financing.

Morgan said the grant program will provide students and their families with a wide range of support services needed to prepare for college. Some of the services and activities include tutoring, mentoring, counseling, career advisement, college preparatory courses, summer camps, educational and cultural field trips, college visits and information about college and financial aid options. Teachers and school administrators can also participate in professional development opportunities and technology training. All activities and workshops will be provided to GEAR UP partner schools at no cost.

“Every sixth and seventh grade student at our partner schools is eligible to participate in GEAR UP—Ignite Belief. The program is inclusive and completely free for parents and the schools,” Morgan said. “This grant provides a lot of opportunities for students and teachers. We hope to foster long-term change by creating a positive and pervasive culture for learning in our under-resourced schools.”

Front Row: Jodie Moore, Lane; Lori Allen, Stringtown; Denise Lovell, Atoka; Stacy Rainey, Coalgate; and Angie West, Coalgate. Back Row: Roland Smith, Lane; Rick Heard, Stringtown; Brian Walker, Harmony; Kathy Perkins, Atoka; Wesley Burnett, Atoka; Charles Canida, Coalgate; Phil Wilkinson, Coalgate; Amy Mauk, Coalgate; and Cindy Mead, Coalgate.

Front Row: Deward Palmer, McCurtain; Janna Blaylock, McCurtain; Dara Self, GEAR UP Education Coordinator; Cydney Meglemre, Keota; and Ray Edwards, Keota.

Front Row: LaDonna Baldwin, GEAR UP Education Coordinator; Anna Pate, Buffalo Valley; Tara Martin, GEAR UP Education Coordinator. Back Row: Jerry Mathews, Buffalo Valley; Justin Kennedy, Buffalo Valley; Brad Corcoran, Panola; Kyle Vanderburg, Wilburton; and Cherish Marshall, Wilburton.

Front Row: Andrea Traywick, Poteau; Suzie Cormier, LeFlore; Jackie Curry, Cameron; Celia Abernathy, Bokoshe; Mitzie Mathis, Bokoshe; Marsha Hinchee, Whitesboro; Whitney Kirby, Poteau; and Susan Manlove, Poteau. Row 2: Heather Roath, Wister; Cindy Wood, Wister; Penny Williams, Fanshawe; Christi Caughern, Cameron; Angel Morrison, Shady Point; Shawna Smith, GEAR UP Education Coordinator; Sherry Steelman, LeFlore; Dara Self, GEAR UP Education Coordinator; Tara Martin, GEAR UP Education Coordinator; LaDonna Baldwin, GEAR UP Education Coordinator; Dustin Long, Bokoshe; and Dr. Don Sjoberg, Poteau. Back Row: Rachel Pugh, Wister; Marshall Brence, Poteau; Bill Neyman, LeFlore; Jim Caughern, Cameron; Bruce Gillham, Shady Point; Wes McGowen, Fanshawe; Mark Self, Panama; Janet Hopson, Panama; Joe Ballard, Poteau; Gina Huff, Spiro; Richard Haynes, Spiro; and Don McGee, Spiro.

Front Row: Kari Montgomery, Eufaula; Tandi Efurd, Eufaula; and Tanya Weston, Porum. Back Row: Chris Whelan, Eufaula; Dr. Landon Berry, Proum; Brent Pearce, Porum; and Rachael Ranallo, GEAR UP Education Coordinator.

Front Row: Scott Burke, Frink-Chambers; Brandie Kirkes, Haileyville; Mary Mattioda, Hartshorne; Sheryl Baker, Hartshorne; Rachael Ranallo, GEAR UP Education Coordinator; Summer Baker, McAlester; and Peggy James, Pittsburg. Row 2: Taylor Smith, McAlester; Chrissy Guthrie, McAlester; Celia Mullins, Indianola; Shawna Smith, GEAR UP Education Coordinator; Veronica Miller, Haileyville; Tani Scott, Haileyville; Brianna Brassfield, GEAR UP Education Coordinator; Tara Martin, GEAR UP Education Coordinator; Natalie Kennedy, GEAR UP Education Coordinator; Angie White, Krebs; and Lisa McCoy, Krebs. Row 3: Kristi Lockey, Canadian; Anna Killebrew, Crowder; Patti Tucker, Crowder; Caroline Miller, McAlester; Stefanie Norman, McAlester; Kelli Hopper, Canadian; Donna Curry, Frink-Chambers; Angie Wilson, Savanna; and Charles Everett, Savanna. Back Row: John Wilcox, Tannehill; Stacey Henderson, Quinton; Robert Florenzano, Crowder; Todd Wilson, Quinton; Patrick Turner, Krebs; Jason Lindley, Hartshorne; Richard Peckio, Frink-Chambers; Gary Reeder, Savanna; Adam Newman, Indianola; Carlton Higgins, Savanna; Randy Hughes, McAlester; Ira Brinlee, Hartshorne; and Mike Reddick, Hartshorne.

Front Row: Lorrie Conley, Antlers; Kassy Watson, Antlers; Cindy Buchanan, Clayton; Ramonia Davis, Clayton; and Lavada Morris, Clayton. Back Row: Marcia Armstrong, Moyers; Donna Dudley, Moyers; Shari Pillow, Rattan; Neil Birchfield, Rattan; Michelle Birchfield, Rattan; and LaDonna Baldwin, GEAR UP Education Coordinator.

Back to News Listing