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County educators envision ‘college-going culture'

August 14, 2001|By KELLY GRANT, Staff Writer

HOLTVILLE — School administrators from across Imperial County gathered Monday to discuss a partnership with the University of California Office of the President to create more of a "college-going culture" in Imperial County.

The conference, "Joining Together to Close the Achievement Gap," was at the Barbara Worth Golf Resort near here and focused on ways to better educate Imperial County students.

The educators' goal is to prepare students academically for "as many opportunities as possible" when they graduate from high school, said Judy Maurice, assistant superintendent of educational services for the Imperial County Office of Education.

"We hope that when students graduate they have the opportunity to attend the university of their choice," said Blas Guerrero, special assistant to the vice president of educational outreach at the UC Office of the President.

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For that to happen, preparation needs to begin long before the high school senior year.

"We need to begin at a much younger age than high school. We need to begin at a much younger age than middle school," Guerrero said.

Local resident Gretchen Laue, also English language arts director of UCOP's teacher education and professional development division, said UCOP has the resources to help Imperial County students.

Laue said student achievement will rise "if we could collaborate and have all the districts work together and have the highest-quality resources for teachers."

One of those resources is technology.

Moises Torres, UCOP special assistant to the vice president of educational outreach, said one way Imperial County can benefit is through online professional development, for example.

"Given the distance, I think it's important for us to think of new ways of working with teachers. One way of doing it is through technology," Torres said.

The collaboration isn't just between local schools and UCOP. Parents and family members play important roles, too.

"To really establish a college-going culture here we need to establish a college-going culture in families," Guerrero said.

That means increasing communication between Imperial County families and universities and having more information available for parents, Guerrero said.

"It's nice to talk about it (raising student achievement), but now it's time for the nuts and bolts," Guerrero said.

In addition to bringing UCOP resources to local students, teachers and administrators, Guerrero and others hope the collaboration will extend to Imperial Valley College to improve the transfer system of IVC students into the UC system.

San Diego State University- Imperial Valley campus will be involved because it houses the UC Mathematics, Engineering and Science Achievement program, which UCOP is trying to extend to Brawley Union High School.

Imperial County is an ideal place to develop such a relationship with UCOP, Guerrero said.

The long-term commitment of Imperial County Superintendent of Schools John Anderson, ICOE staff and local schools was one factor encouraging UCOP's involvement, Guerrero said.

The size of Imperial County's student population is small enough to allow significant impact on a variety of factors and easy assessment of district and school progress, he added.

Staff Writer Kelly Grant can be reached at 337-3441.

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