Published by Katie Gillespie in the Redding Record Searchlight (http://www.redding.com/) on July 17th, 2014.
To read the original article click HERE.
Call it a science fair for the college bound.
Math teachers Stan Barone and Rachel Romero are being recognized in Washington, D.C., for organizing a student-created and hosted College Faire at Parsons Junior High School.
The two will attend the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) next week to present the project to teachers from around the country. GEAR UP helps make college more accessible to low-income students by teaching them about college from seventh grade onward and providing some scholarships.
Parsons students in Baroneâ€™s and Romeroâ€™s math classes spent two years studying possible careers and colleges that provide programs in those fields, then narrowed down their research to one college. Students presented their research at the schoolâ€™s annual open house.
â€œIt opens up their horizons and gives them a hope for their future,â€ said Romero, who recently moved to Southern California and will no longer be teaching at Parsons. â€œItâ€™s not out of reach.â€
Students also take a trip to a nearby college and interview people working in their desired career paths, people working at the colleges theyâ€™re researching and family members who have attended college. Students present on the schoolsâ€™ academics, the costs, the application process and what life is like for students attending each school.
Jeanne-Marie Carr, GEAR UPâ€™s local coordinator, said this is the first time Redding teachers have presented at the national conference. Carr will travel with Barone and Romero, and will help explain how teachers can host College Fairs of their own.
The project helps promote a stronger college-going culture in the North State, Carr said.
â€œI think the way they go about it is just phenomenal,â€ Carr said. â€œKids love it. They want to work on their project. Itâ€™s not just another assignment kind of thing. They see how important it is to them.â€
Though some students and parents are skeptical of the project at the beginning, Barone said by the end, theyâ€™re excited to see what theyâ€™ve produced and about the prospects of going to college.
â€œThe amazing thing is some of those students that complained or their parents complained end up at the end thanking me for doing it,â€ Barone said. â€œTheyâ€™re glad they stuck with it.â€
The structure of the program may change now that Romero has moved, but she said she plans to continue working with Barone from Southern California to keep the College Faire going. Barone said they even have plans to expand the project to include sixth-grade students as well.
Jeanne-Marie Carr, College OPTIONS GEAR UP Advisor