Getting the word out on Ready Now Yuma
The Helios Education Foundation recently awarded the Yuma Union High School District a $3.9 million grant for the Ready Now Yuma program, with the goal of having every graduate prepared to succeed in a college or a career. This story is the last in a series that looked at the funding, how it will be used and what the implications are for YUHSD.
With a new program of study in place, school officials want students and parents to understand the competitive environment their students are entering upon graduation. Will they be able to hold their own in college and in a career?
The Yuma Union School District has introduced the Cambridge program of study as part of Ready Now Yuma, a partnership made possible through a $3.9 million grant from the Helios Education Foundation. The goal is to graduate every student ready for college or a career.
Officials have noted that ongoing education and outreach is important to the success of Ready Now Yuma. This is when outreach efforts for parents, students and the community will come in.
“Most important is for people to have a deep understanding that Ready Now Yuma includes all students,” Toni Badone, YUHSD superintendent, said.
“Every student is a sample size of one. RNY is about a personalizing it to each student because each student has different needs and different plans.”
It doesn't necessarily mean that students know at 14 what they will be doing at 24, but educators want to start the conversation and encourage them to “dream big,” she added.
Outreach began in the last school year but it will be “ramped up” this year, Badone noted.
The district plans to take plenty of time thoroughly explaining to students and parents the various elements of the program.
Aside from students, the district wants to reach parents. “The best way a parent can help a child is to encourage them to love learning and become lifelong learners,” Badone said.
Outreach efforts will include presentations, handouts and answers to frequently asked questions, with more being developed.
The goal is to integrate outreach into existing school activities such as orientations, open houses, parent-teacher meetings, counseling sessions, PTO (Parent Teacher Organization) meetings and any other parent information meetings.
Anyone who wants to know more about the program is encouraged to contact the district at 520-4600 or the respective schools and ask questions and request a classroom tour.
“We've already taken community members into the classroom. Sometimes the teacher knew and sometimes they didn't,” Badone said. “They were impressed by the level of questions being asked and the level of the labs that were being done.”
In addition, the district is exploring other outreach methods such as meetings, email communications, social media and possibly even multimedia public awareness for down the road.
Another part of the outreach efforts is focused on educating the teachers and staff within the district. They are considered important “champions” and sources of information for parents, students and the community.
The district is spending time educating internally about “what it all means,” how each person contributes to the success of students and achieving the goals of Ready Now Yuma.
Finally, the district is creating a “roadshow presentation” to be taken out to community groups, such as business groups, education coalitions and churches, chamber meetings, for ongoing education and outreach.
District officials have already gone out into the community, accepting invitations from groups and organizations. They've made presentations to groups of military parents and migrant parents.
“We know parents are very busy so we will meet them where they are, not just physically, but wherever their knowledge of this is. Just call us. It can be as short as they want, but obviously with less information, or as long as they want,” Badone said.
In particular, parents are invited to tour their children's school. “They're very welcome to go into the school. Nothing replaces going to the school and seeing what it's like,” said Frank Núñez, director of the district's Advanced Placement Incentive Program.
The district will also map out other community events, such as festivals and conferences, to continue to engage the community in the district's work and hopefully build “strong champions.”
Officials recognize that everyone, from teachers and staff to students and their parents and families, needs to understand the program and work together for students to succeed.
But what if a student needs more help? Núñez notes that there are a variety of tutoring options available at each school.
“More importantly, students who want additional help should start with their teachers because their teachers know their students and can assist them individually to get the support they need,” Núñez said.
In the end, the goal is to have students graduate from YUHSD schools prepared to succeed in college and career, completing degrees and certificates, entering the workforce skilled and be valuable assets to the businesses and the greater community.
The Helios grant supports a position for communications and community management. The person that is hired for the position will take charge of marketing the project.
Additionally, the district is considering partnerships that can provide valuable tools and resources to parents and students so that the district doesn't have to do it all.
Mara Knaub can be reached at email@example.com or (928) 539-6856. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSMaraKnaub or on Twitter at @YSMaraKnaub.
To learn more
•Parent and students can go directly to the Cambridge website http://www.cie.org.uk/countries/usa for curriculum materials.
•There are also a variety of online resources to help students and parents, such as the website for Expect More Arizona: www.expectmorearizona.org
•Parents can call their respective schools or they can contact the district at (928) 502-4600.
School officials want students and parents to fully understand these elements of Ready Now Yuma:
• Provide every YUHSD student with a rigorous, high expectations curriculum
• Support teachers in actively engaging students in a learning model that emphasizes critical thinking, inquiry and problem-solving
• Focus on mastery of skills and knowledge by providing authentic learning experiences and assessments
• Enable personalized, future-oriented conversations with students and families that reinforce the importance of postsecondary education for every student
• Offer additional academic supports to ensure mastery of skills and knowledge for student success
• Engage students in higher standard exams and assessments which better predict college and career readiness
• Provide multiple pathways to college and career including, but not limited to, Advanced Placement, Career and Technical Education and Dual Enrollment
In addition, the district wants to them feel that the curriculum is relevant to them and their future.