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GEAR UP helps PCSD students plan and prepare for success in college or a career



October 8, 2018



by Alyssa Young

12th Grade, Parma Senior High School



Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) and College Now assist students in all three Parma City School District high schools in attaining their post-secondary plans such as gaining a certificate for a specific job, an associate’s degree, or a bachelor’s degree.


GEAR UP is a grant-funded, state-wide project that focuses on creating a college and post-secondary culture in schools and eliminating barriers for students to access college and career options after high school, according to the GEAR UP website. College Now is a college-access organization that assists students in their journey to college and post-secondary opportunities and supports college and career success.


PCSD GEAR UP and College Now advisers work to provide students with the necessary materials to achieve success in their life. Materials include classroom sessions in grades 8 – 12 to help students develop their plans to a desired career, sponsored field trips to present college options, tutoring and test prep sessions, and assistance with applications and financial aid.


Cathy Graham at Parma Senior High was promoted over the summer to site director for GEAR UP Parma and with her new position she can plan initiatives for the students and work with other advisers of the program in the district including Hillary Walker, Courtney Walsh, Adam Lengel and Tameka Pollard.

Walker, who has been working at Valley Forge for two years now, has taken the lead on promoting GEAR UP on social media as well as using her marketing work to benefit the program.


Walsh is new and serving as an adviser for students at Normandy High school. She was a first generation college student and wants to help other students, who might not have someone to assist them, attend the college of their choice.


Lengel for the past three years has worked closely with ImpACT, College Now’s after-school ACT/SAT prep program, and is an extraordinary resource for students regarding college admissions testing.


Pollard is the new adviser to students at Parma High. For the past ten years, she has served as a substitute teacher and guidance counselor for the Cleveland Heights University Heights School District (CHUH). This past summer, she worked closely with eighth graders at CHUH through the GEAR UP program to expose students to available resources and get them thinking about their post high school plans.


“Every year there are graduates who miss out on opportunities because they were nervous that creating a plan would obligate them to carry it out,” Graham stated. “We want to make sure that everyone is aware that GEAR UP is here to help with whatever they need.”


If a student has a vocational class they can work with an adviser either at their home school or the school their vocational program is located. It is encouraged that students get acquainted to the GEAR UP adviser at their home school for easy access with help on their plans.