Local educators gather to discuss goals for this year’s GEAR UP grant program


WILBURTON, OK (Sept. 13, 2013) – Eastern Oklahoma State College’s GEAR UP program hosted its annual partnership meeting for area school teachers, counselors and administrators on Sept. 10.

GEAR UP Project Director Linda Morgan said there were 92 attendees for the partnership meeting, including 73 representatives from the grant program’s 30 partner schools. Participants learned about programs and resources available to GEAR UP students for the 2013-14 school year.

“The partnership meeting is a wonderful opportunity to meet with our local education agency partners,” Morgan said. “Several special guests including representatives from ACT and Texas Instruments were on hand to discuss programs available to our partners. We are excited so many of our partners took the time out of their busy schedules to attend.”

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 a more than $12 million grant over a seven-year period to serve a cohort of students in 30 partner schools.

“We’re currently in our third year of the GEAR UP for Success grant and we’re serving 2,441 eighth and ninth grade students,” Morgan said. “We started with this group of students when they were in the sixth and seventh grades and will follow them through their high school graduation and first year of college.”

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

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.

Morgan said GEAR UP staff will offer a new financial literacy program this year for both students and their parents or guardians. GEAR UP students in each school will complete “Practical Money Skills for Life,” a financial literacy curriculum that focuses on creating a savings goal, financing a college education, creating a budget, understanding savings and investment strategies and making smart decisions with money (wants versus needs).

In addition, GEAR UP will sponsor College Savings Plan Night events for parents and guardians of GEAR UP students. GEAR UP staff and representatives from area financial institutions will present information on how to get started saving for college.

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

Atoka County

Scott Frazier, Atoka; Steve Osborn, Atoka; Stoni Peck, Atoka; Barbara Shoupe, Atoka; Beth Buretta, Stringtown; Kamy Patterson, GEAR UP Education Coordinator; and Rick Heard, Stringtown.

Haskell County

Richard Reed, Keota; Kelly Hustad, Keota; Tina Parsons, Keota; Dara Ward, GEAR UP Education Coordinator; Veronica Lovell, McCurtain; and Dart Drummonds, McCurtain.

Latimer County

Front Row: Diana Hames, Buffalo Valley; Terrie Ober, Red Oak; Christy Bryan, Panola; Cherish Marshall, Wilburton; Melissa Juarez, GEAR UP Education Coordinator; Bryan Deatherage, Red Oak; Trice Butler, Wilburton; and Jerry Mathews, Buffalo Valley. Back Row: LaDonna Baldwin, GEAR UP Education Coordinator; Kyle Vanderburg, Wilburton; and Gary Lay, Wilburton.

Pittsburg County

Front Row: Scott Burke, Frink–Chambers; Lyndi Church, Pittsburg; Paula Meadows, McAlester; Donna Curry, Frink–Chambers; Julie Rowell, Krebs; Sherry Swanson, Canadian; and Rachael Ranallo, GEAR UP Education Coordinator. Middle Row: Raymond Wilson, McAlester; Jennifer Hunt, Hartshorne, Carol Blansett, McAlester; Celia Mullins, Indianola; Brandi Kirkes, Haileyville; Cecil Hallmark, Haileyville; Rodney Karch, Canadian; Anna Killebrew, Crowder; Michelle Cardell, GEAR UP Education Coordinator; and Angie Wilson, Savanna. Back Row: Nina Barthel, GEAR UP Education Coordinator; Patrick Turner, Krebs; Richard Peckio, Frink–Chambers; Chad Graham, Pittsburg; Lana Ezekiel, Tannehill; Robert Florenzano, Crowder; Mark Baumann, Indianola; Mark Ichord, Hartshorne; Roger Hemphill, Haileyville; Gary Reeder, Savanna; and Kamy Patterson, GEAR UP Education Coordinator.

LeFlore County

Front Row: Melissa Juarez, GEAR UP Education Coordinator; Suzie Cormier, LeFlore; Julie McClain, Talihina; Ashley Gravitt, Talihina; Janet Hopson, Panama; Tracy Saling, Spiro; Karen Lawson, Spiro; Celia Abernathy, Bokoshe; Dara Ward, GEAR UP Education Coordinator; and LaDonna Baldwin, GEAR UP Education Coordinator. Back Row: Don Atkinson, Spiro; Nick Carter, Spiro; Richard Haynes, Panama; Grant Ralls, Panama; Dennis Shoup, Bokoshe; and Jason Lockhart, Talihina.

Pushmataha County

Front Row: Marcia Armstrong, Moyers; Lavada Watkins, Clayton; Ramonia Davis, Clayton; LaDonna Baldwin, GEAR UP Education Coordinator; Lawanda Vaughn, Moyers; and Cary Ammons, Antlers. Back Row: Neil Birchfield, Rattan; Bryan McNutt, Antlers; Melinda Martin, Antlers; Heremy Hairrell, Clayton; Bill Neyman, Antlers; and Lorrie Conley, Antlers.

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