GEAR UP Local Education Agency Representatives Attend 2016 Partnership Meeting


WILBURTON, OK (Oct. 10, 2016) – Eastern Oklahoma State College’s GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) hosted its annual partnership meeting for area school teachers, counselors and administrators on September 28 at the E. E. Tourtellotte Student Center.

Eighty–eight representatives from 27 partner schools, Eastern Oklahoma State College staff, Texas Instruments, GEAR UP students and GEAR UP team members attended the partnership meeting.

Participants heard from Texas Instruments Grant Partnership Consultant Eric Batten and McAlester math teacher Tim Collier. Collier shared how the implementation of the TI Navigator system and handheld technology into his classroom has revolutionized his teaching pedagogy. GEAR UP has placed the equipment in 85 math and science classrooms in partner schools.

Two GEAR UP students, Allison Ballard from Wilburton High School and Josh Cole from Spiro High School, shared their experiences at the 2016 NCCEP/GEAR UP Youth Leadership Summit with the group. Both talked about the life–changing experience. Panola Superintendent Brad Corcoran served as a chaperone on the trip and shared his perception of attending the conference and the Parent Leadership Institute. Eastern’s GEAR UP sponsored ten students and their chaperones for the conference.

“The annual partnership meeting is a great time for everyone to come together to review progress in achieving the grant’s goals,” GEAR UP Project Director Linda Morgan said. “We are in the sixth year of the GEAR UP for Success grant, serving over 2,300 juniors and seniors.”

“We appreciate the superintendents, principals, counselors and lead teachers who took time out of their busy schedules to attend. The meeting is required by the US Department of Education,” Morgan added. “We are excited that we have the privilege to work with area schools to serve students and prepare them for post-secondary education.”

The goal of the grant is increase student academic performance, increase high school graduation rates, increase completion of post-secondary education, improve opportunities for teacher professional development and improve parental involvement.

Morgan reviewed activities completed during the 2015–2016 academic year as well as revealing new programs for the coming year. The GEAR UP staff will teach a curriculum particular to juniors and seniors. Juniors will learn about goal setting, the college search, the cost of college; time management and my college match. Seniors will complete several tasks including the compilation of a portfolio while learning about college/financial aid, how to write a cover letter and resume, how to go to college and receiving letters and awards.

In addition, GEAR UP students will have the opportunity to attend a two–day “Tour of Texas” where they will tour two colleges/universities and the Texas Instruments Fabrication Plant in Dallas, Texas. They will also be eligible to attend an ACT review workshop presented by Chad Cargill, a known expert in test preparation. GEAR UP will pay the registration fee.

“We have a lot planned for this year,” said Morgan. “We hope students will take advantage of the opportunities offered to them.”

The grant provides services such as tutoring, mentoring, career planning and advisement for students and parents, on–going professional development for teachers, college financial aid workshops, ACT test preparation, summer camps, and educational and cultural field trips.

Area schools participating in Eastern’s GEAR UP for Success program include Antlers, Atoka, Bokoshe, Buffalo Valley, Canadian, Clayton, Crowder, Haileyville, Hartshorne, Indianola, Keota, LeFlore, McAlester, McCurtain, Moyers, Panama, Panola, Pittsburg, Quinton, Rattan, Red Oak, Savanna, Spiro, Stringtown, Talihina, Whitesboro and Wilburton.

Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) is a federal grant program designed to meet the needs of low–income, underserved, and underrepresented students in geographically–isolated, rural schools in six southeastern Oklahoma counties. Eastern was awarded $12.6 million grant over a seven–year period to serve a cohort of students in 30 partner schools.

Representing Atoka County were Rick Heard, Stringtown; Kathy Perkins, Atoka; Melissa Hicks, Atoka; GEAR UP Education Coordinator Natalie Kennedy; and Beth Buretta, Stringtown.

Representing Haskell County were Lauralea Wilson, McCurtain; Cydney Meglemre, Keota; Veronica Lovell, McCurtain; GEAR UP Education Coordinator Dara Self; Deward Palmer, McCurtain; and Richard Reed, Keota.

Representing Latimer County were (front row): Trina Renfrow, Red Oak; Christy Bryan, Red Oak; GEAR UP Education Coordinator LaDonna Baldwin; and Kay Poe, Buffalo Valley. Back row: GEAR UP Education Coordinator Tara Stevens; Carmen Harkins, Wilburton; Gary Lay, Wilburton; Bryan Deatherage, Red Oak; Justin Kennedy, Buffalo Valley; Brad Corcoran, Panola; Jerry Mathews, Buffalo Valley; and John Long, Red Oak.

Representing LeFlore County were (front row): Honei Blankenship, Spiro; Trudy McKinney, Spiro; Celia Abernathy, Bokoshe; Judy Phillips, Whitesboro; Ashley Gravitt, Talihina; GEAR UP Education Coordinator Tara Stevens; GEAR UP Education Coordinator Dara Self; Suzie Cormier, LeFlore; and Julie McClain, Talihina. Back Row: Grant Ralls, Panama; Chad Ritter, Bokoshe; Larry Greenwood, Spiro; Josh Cole, Spiro Student; and Lane Jackson, LeFlore.

Representing Pittsburg County were (front row): Gary Reeder, Savanna; Tim Collier, McAlester High School Teacher; Chad Graham, Pittsburg; David Smith, Canadian; Mike Reddick, Hartshorne; Mark Ichord, Hartshorne; and Chad Everett, Savanna. Row 2: GEAR UP Education Coordinator Natalie Kennedy; Peggy James, Pittsburg; Bonnie Weeks, McAlester; Paula Meadows, McAlester; Tani Scott, Haileyville; Brandie Kirkes, Haileyville; Veronica Miller, Haileyville; GEAR UP Education Coordinator Tina McMurtrey; Jennifer King, Hartshorne; GEAR UP Education Coordinator Rachael Ranallo; GEAR UP Education Coordinator Shawna Smith; Kelli Hopper, Canadian; and Celia Mullins, Indianola. Back Row: Wes Wood, Pittsburg; Roger Hemphill, Haileyville; Dane Lemons, Quinton; Brad Kellogg, Savanna; Mark Baumann, Indianola. NOT PICTURED: Robert Florenzano, Crowder; Preston James, Crowder; and Patti Tucker, Crowder.

Representing Pushmataha County were (front row): Shari Pillow, Rattan; Michelle Birchfield, Rattan; Ramona Davis, Clayton; Lavada Morris, Clayton; and GEAR UP Education Coordinator LaDonna Baldwin. Back Row: Bryan McNutt, Antlers; Marcia Armstrong, Moyers; Keith Milligan, Clayton; and Lawanda Vaughn, Moyers.

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