La Paz Hosts Night of Excellence for Ed Trust Recipients

On May 13, La Paz Middle School in Salinas, CA celebrated their California GEAR UP Education Trust Awards recipients at with a ceremony and receptions entitled “Night of Excellence”.

Each year, participating California GEAR UP middle schools select students to receive Education Trust Awards valued at $2,000. College savings accounts are established in the name of each of the selected students that grow to approximately $2,500 by high school graduation. Students can access these funds to pay for college expenses once they enroll in a college or university.

The staff and parents shared what a wonderful gift it is to begin students in middle school a scholarship for college funds.  GEAR UP is playing an important role in developing a college emphasis on their campus. Education Trust Awards are great for our students. Thanks to California GEAR UP and the Leadership Team at La Paz.

-Sandy Carpenter-Stevenson, GEAR UP Regional Coordinator

La Paz Middle School is located in Salinas, just East of Monterey, CA. La Paz has been a GEAR UP school since 2008, and is making great strides in building a college-going culture throughout their school community.

How are you celebrating your college-bound middle grade students???

Valley-GEAR UP Collaboration Celebrates 50 Student Awards

On Monday, May 17 the California GEAR UP-Valley High School Collaborative celebrated it’s annual Education Trust Awards with a ceremony and dinner. 50 student awards were handed out, each with a value of $2,000 which will be held in trust in a Scholarshare account until the students enroll in college.

The California GEAR UP Program’s expectation is that offering a monetary incentive to students would stimulate the entire family and school community to support his or her preparation for college. College savings accounts are established in the name of each of the selected students that will accrue interest until students enroll in college. Students can access these funds to pay for college expenses once they enroll in a college or university.

Here are some quotes from those in attendance:
The energy in the room was like Christmas Day! Excitement was everywhere. -GEAR UP Staff
GEAR UP provides a remarkable service to these students, as they are handed a direct link to their future. -Parent
The Valley – GEAR UP collaboration is a model of success. -Valley High teacher

California GEAR UP is excited to provide  288 awards to students across the state during May and June at Education Trust Award celebrations organized by Leadership Teams at participating schools. We will be sharing these events with you on our blog, so be sure to check in with us daily!

Special thanks to Chris Wong for the pictures and video (coming soon).

Merced Schools Celebrate $28,000 in GEAR UP Awards

The California GEAR UP Program’s Education Trust Award Component is premised on the expectation that offering a monetary incentive to students would stimulate the entire family and school community to support his or her preparation for college. Each year, participating middle schools select students to receive an Education Trust Award valued at $2,000. College savings accounts are established in the name of each of the selected students that grow to approximately $2,500 by high school graduation. Students can access these funds to pay for college expenses once they enroll in a college or university.

Thanks to the principals from the middle schools for sharing the picture and information on the event:

Greetings from the Merced team! We had our ETA Awards Night Monday night and what a great event it was.

The Merced Schools (Hoover Middle School, Rivera Middle School, and Tenaya Middle School) came together on 5/10/10 to celebrate $28,000 in scholarship money going out to our students in the Merced City School District. Administrators were joined by Merced City School Board of Education Members Susan Walsh and Jessica Kazakos, Merced City School District Administrators Dr. Rosemary Parga-Duran, Greg Spicer, Dr. Tammie Calzadillas, Annie Dossetti, and Dr. Ken Testa, President of Merced Community College Dr. Ben Duran, and CA GEAR UP Regional Coordinator Jill Campbell.

The three Merced Schools have been a model of collaboration within California GEAR UP for the last two years, and this event was a culmination of their hard work and determination.

Since 1999, 5,129 students have received these awards from the program and are selected by school personnel at California GEAR UP schools.  We hope that you or a community member would like to attend one of our local Education Trust Award celebrations in your area. Contact us at

Pacoima Middle School + Math Carnival = CST Success

On Thursday, April 22 Pacoima Middle School hosted a math carnival to prepare and engage students in the upcoming CST’s.

Here is the live report from the Math Department at Pacoima:

This is our third year doing this event and it is headed up by our Math Coach Ms. Ourfalian.  

The Math Carnival consists of 22 fun and engaging math games including a CST preparation station.  This event takes place during our Open House day at Pacoima Middle School.  Our students are trained to conduct the games, and our parents are in charge of the prize station.  We invite the community to come play the various math games.  Each year we get more and more families to come and see what their children are learning and play some entertaining math games.

Special thanks to Mr. Contreras for sharing and the great photos from Mr. Chong.

A great example of both preparing the students for CST’s and engaging the community with one well organized event. What are you doing at your school that is similar? What are you doing school-wide to get ready for CST’s?

Schools Chief Jack O’Connell Salutes State’s Educators

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell expressed his deep appreciation for the state’s teachers this week in conjunction with California Day of the Teacher on Wednesday, May 12. O’Connell’s office released this statement for the celebratory day:

“The Day of the Teacher is an opportunity to remember and thank those who taught us to read and write, to appreciate the arts and sciences – and encouraged us to try again and again when we struggled,” O’Connell said. “Teachers are mentors and role models who helped shape the people we’ve become and are helping our six million students meet their full potential.

“It is a tough time to be a teacher. The state budget crisis is forcing many districts to issue pink slips to thousands of teachers. Those that remain are making do with fewer supplies and resources yet more students in their classrooms. Many are being asked to take furlough days and pay cuts.

“We must continue the fight to protect education funding. We cannot afford to shortchange our students by depriving them of the most valuable resources we have to offer: our teachers who work on a daily basis to prepare our children and young adults for the challenges of the 21st century. On this Day of the Teacher, let us resolve to give our teachers, our schools, and our students the thanks and the support they deserve.”

Here are Top Ten Ways to Honor Teachers:

1.    Send your children to school well rested and ready to learn.

2.    Help your children with their homework at night and check to ensure all assignments are completed.

3.    Volunteer your time.

4.    Parent involvement in your children’s school is vital to the success of your own children as well as the success of the entire school.

5.    Organize donations for classroom supplies. On average, teachers spend $400 of their own money each year on their students. Encourage teachers to develop a wish list for classroom supplies and help organize donations.

6.    Donate new or nearly new books to the school library. Determine what is needed to improve the library and organize contributions to fill that need.

7.    Send a thank you note to a teacher who has made a difference in the life of your child.

8.    Have a party or reception at your children’s school to honor the teachers.

9.    Report to the principal what a great job your child’s teacher is doing.

10. Just remember to thank them for all they do.

It’s important to reflect on the state of education in California, as teachers have been and will continue to remain the bedrock of academic excellence for ALL our students.

How are you celebrating?

Neediest schools should be able to keep their best teachers

We are sharing with you excerpts from a recent San Joes Mercury News opinion article written by Arun Ramanathan, the Director of Education Trust-West. The article discusses the merits of SB 995 which would allow schools to hire, fire, and reassign teachers based on effectiveness, subject matter and programming need without regard to seniority. We have included the California teachers Association stance on the bill as well.

From the Mercury News opinion article:

Last month, school districts around California issued layoff notices to 30,000 teachers because of the state budget crisis. It is deplorable that our state has forced the education system to take a disproportionate share of our state’s budget cuts over the past three years, forcing this annual layoff process.

But what’s just as unfortunate is the way that these layoffs are implemented. Instead of keeping the best teachers and laying off those who are least effective, districts were forced to let the newer teachers go first, regardless of how well they did their jobs.

SB 955 takes the first step in this process by permitting local schools to make their own staffing decisions that place a higher priority on teacher effectiveness — shown to be the single most important school-based factor in determining student achievement— versus years of service. This approach has several benefits, including recognizing that skills, talent and results matter in addition to experience.

Most important, quality-based layoff rules would allow schools to protect their best teachers at a time when great teachers are more important than ever. And, rather than being a state mandate, the bill provides districts the flexibility to make these decisions based on an assessment of their students’ needs.

The CTA feels differently:

SB 955 is an outright attack on teachers and ignores real problems facing our schools. It’s outrageous that same lawmakers are scapegoating teachers during these tough economic times and robbing them of due process rights, while at the same time–because of $17 billion in budget cuts the last two years–neighborhood schools are eliminating entire programs and teaching positions, and in some cases closing doors for good.

SB 955 won’t save the state one dime or do anything to improve student learning. Instead or blaming teachers, the governor and lawmakers should be working with educators to support public schools and provide all students with a quality education.

We must work together to reverse this dangerous trend of punishing students and robbing them of educational opportunities in order to balance the state budget. SB 955 is unnecessary. There is already a process to remove ineffective teachers. During their first two years of employment, teachers can be fired for any reason. In their third year, teachers have a right to a hearing before being laid off. This process allows districts to consider student needs when making layoff decisions.

What do you think?

Harris Middle School is on the Road to College

The CSUS and At & T Road to College bus visited current GEAR UP School Harris Middle School on May 3.  More than 400 students had the opportunity to board a unique tour bus geared toward increasing underserved students access to college.  The activities included: A cool tour bus decorated with college pennants and memorabilia, computers and an interactive video about college and career choices, A photo booth where students took a picture wearing a graduation cap and holding a diploma, Assembly member Alyson Huber talked to students, CSU staff  motivated and cheered the students on.

Prior to the bus visiting Harris, teachers and counselors spent a day with students helping them map out there path to college using the CSUS Road to College curriculum.

The Harris students and staff loved it!

One of the most rewarding things for me about this bus tour has been the number of dedicated teachers, counselors, and principals we met across the state.  I was so inspired to have met educators who are committed and passionate about the future of California children.  It certainly made me think about the many allies and partners higher education has out there and how can we best leverage this experience.  It reminded me of why I got into this business in the first place.

-Carolina Cardenas, Associate Director at CSU Office of the Chancellor

To find out more about the Road to College Bus Tour visit:

Strategies For Funding College: Live Video-Streamed Meeting

Friday Online Fair On April 16th our friends at Green College Tours hosted over 700 chat sessions between high school students in Chicago, IL, El Paso, TX, Gilroy, Colton, Bakersfield, Anza, Riverside, Chino Hills, Bloomington, Cathedral City, Beaumont, San Jose, CA and colleges from across the country.  No travel required.

Live Video Presentations DePaul University, The Art Institutes and Get College delivered live video presentations to freshman and sophomore high school classes.  Green College Tours will continue to expand this model network to provide high schools with an online window into colleges, campus life, college prep services and college financing resources.

Join GTC for the next ‘Live Video-Streamed Meeting’:

Event: “Strategies for Funding College”
Date: May 14, 2010
Time: 8:10 – 8:50 AM Pacific Time
Host: Tom Bottorf of Get College
Where: (Scroll down to “Join The Meeting”)

Let us know if you take part in the meeting by commenting on our blog or Facebook page.