The GEAR UP team is busy getting settled into our partner schools and connecting with our partner teachers and getting near peer mentors settled into their classroom placements. GEAR UP's primary goal this year is to support our partner teachers in culturally responsive teaching strategies based on developmental practices that are nurturing, build positive relationships, and provide enriched experiences for all students.
Stay tuned for announcements about ongoing professional development opportunities.
NEAR PEER MENTORS
GEAR UP is excited to annouce that 33 near peer mentors have been placed with partner teachers in Alliance @ Meek, Benson, Cleveland, Grant, Ida B. Wells, Jefferson, Lincoln, McDaniel, and Roosevelt. Near Peer Mentors provide valuable expertise, skills and services. Some examples of how a classroom is enhanced by a near peer mentor include:
- Sharing their generational voice & expertise
- Building rapport with students to increase engagement and attendance
- Offering cultural insights to support CSP
- Having extra eyes and ears in the classroom
- Modeling what good academic behavior looks like
- Implementing CCR, SEL and Financial Literacy workshops
- Helping to plan and implementing field trips and other activities
2023 Near Peer Mentors
GEAR UP Engage, Empower, Elevate
Engage, Empower, Elevate (E3) is a college and career readiness initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s GEAR UP grant program. E3 follows students from middle through high school and provides an array of classroom-based services focused on improving student academic achievement. GEAR UP E3 provides direct services to students in Jefferson, McDaniel and Roosevelt High Schools as well as leadership, administrative and funding support for the district's Near Peer Mentor (NPM) and Parent Teacher Home Visit (PTHV) programs.
GEAR UP Vision
GEAR UP E3 provides classroom-centered wrap-around support structures that elevate student voice and experience, authentically and respectfully collaborate with families, and prioritize culturally-sustaining pedagogy, to create responsive classrooms and improved student engagement. Key to this strategy is recognizing and mitigating explicit and implicit racial inequities, committing to transforming traditional power structures, eliminating structural and academic barriers for underserved students, supporting teacher professional capacity-building, and empowering students and families as equal partners in education. The result is a classroom climate in which all students can realize their academic potential and fulfill college and career goals.
Near Peer Mentor Program: Using the classroom as the nexus of student services, GEAR UP provides leadership and support for a cohort of college-going near peer mentors (NPMs). NPMs collaborate with a teacher partner to create a bridge for acknowledging and integrating youth voice. They model appropriate academic behaviors and skills, improve student engagement, and help younger peers cultivate post-secondary aspirations and identity. The Near-Peer Mentor program currently operates in the district's nine comprehensive high schools.
Teacher Capacity Building: GEAR UP TOSAs (Teachers on Special Assignment) promote data-informed teacher professional development and networking opportunities that allow educators to explore, practice, and build capacity to embed student voice and life experience into pedagogy, curricula, and assessment. GEAR UP TOSAs act as instructional coaches to help integrate GEAR UP core strategies in support of the district's Instructional Framework, Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy Objectives and Educator Essentials.
PTHV and Family Engagement: GEAR UP supports an evolving parent organizing and leadership model that activates family voice, while connecting them more deeply with each other, teachers and the educational system. GEAR UP provides leadership and centralized administrative support for the district-wide Parent Teacher Home Visit (PTHV) Program. PTHV is a nationally recognized methodology that provides opportunities for parents and teachers to come together as equal partners through voluntary home visits designed to build trust and collaborative relationships in service to student academic success.
Holistic Data Practices: In partnership with PPS Research, Assessment & Accountability (RAA), GEAR UP supports the operationalization of quantitative and qualitative data tools and processes that gather the voices and experiences of our stakeholders -- students, parents, teachers, and mentors. Currently in a pilot phase, GEAR UP and RAA are using community researchers to conduct interviews and focus groups, compiling stories and experiences that will be analyzed and integrated with other district assessment data. The goal is to provide a richer, more informative and authentic measure of student academic progress commensurate with the district's Student Graduate Profile.
[Click to view a timeline of the evolution of the GEAR UP initiative.]