NVCC’s Gear UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Program) program successfully ended its second year preparing more than 2,400 middle school students for the academic rigors of high school and matriculation to college. Administered through NVCC’s Bridge to College Office, the GEAR UP program is a seven-year, state-funded grant program designed to significantly increase the number of low-income students prepared to enter and succeed in college by providing early intervention, testing, advising and academic and social support.
Some of this year’s notable accomplishments include the creation of Student Ambassador Leadership teams of which members designed and completed service projects at each of their respective middle schools. North End Middle School developed a “Healthy Living” event for students at the school. Ambassadors from Wallace Middle School mentored fifth-grade students at local feeder elementary schools and raised awareness about middle school transition topics. West Side Middle School held a clothing drive and was successful in securing and donating over 1,000 articles of clothing to Act 4 Ministries in Waterbury. Additionally, Wallace Middle School students developed a Latino Advocate after-school program which offered weekly discussion groups focused on academic success, challenges and cultural adaptations for bilingual students.
The 2014 GEAR UP Summer Academy offered over 500 eighth and ninth graders the opportunity to enhance their English, math and leadership skills during a four- week July program. Curriculum was designed collaboratively with Waterbury Public Schools (WPS) personnel and related directly to content to be covered in the first marking period of the 2014-15 school year. GEAR UP’s summer program merged with WPS’s preexisting transition program which resulted in double the number of students who attended the district’s transition program. It offers students opportunities to earn points toward their first marking period English and math classes.
“It’s exciting to see the program evolve as we enter our third year and become active in 10 schools across the school district,” said David Celotto, program director for GEAR UP. We are enthusiastic about the opportunity to add four high schools to our cohort schools and to weave GEAR UP into the fabric of each high school. Freshman year is a critical time in an adolescent’s life. With the proper guidance, support and collaboration amongst GEAR UP and the WPS, we know our students will succeed and reach new academic heights.”