A&M International GEAR UP Sets 'Creating A Vision' Nights Beginning March 22

Parents of seventh graders participating in an innovative new program directed by Texas A&M International University that targets the pursuit of higher education will be welcomed by the program's staff in a series of special information nights beginning March 22.

The program, 'Creating A Vision,' is a five-year federally-funded collaborative project that is part of the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) created by the Higher Education Amendments of 1998. The national initiative is aimed at encouraging middle school students to prepare for post-secondary education now.

Parents of seventh-graders at the participating campuses will learn about the program at evening presentations scheduled at Clark Middle School Library (6:30 pm., March 22), Memorial Middle School Library (6 p.m., March 27) , and at the Nixon High School freshman campus cafeteria (6:30 p.m., March 28) for Lamar Middle School parents. The events are free of charge and refreshments will be served.

Program director Beatriz Salinas-Riojas said the program will help students, parents, and teachers work collaboratively to improve teaching and learning.

"This program will help to change the futures of Laredo students through a remarkable collaboration that will aim at improving scores on standardized tests, and better prepare students to achieve success at the University level ," Salinas-Riojas explained.

She said parents are a critical element in the program's success and the evening information sessions will give coordinators an opportunity to meet with parents and preview program benefits.

"Together we will continually encourage and motivate students to aim higher, and plan more wisely for their futures. Parental involvement and a common vision are key to our success," she said.

The program will be delivered in three main components: teacher training, parental involvement, and direct program services to students.

Salinas-Riojas said the program has many special characteristics.

"For example, we've already initiated a tutoring component with A&M International students tutoring middle school students in math and English classes . We are currently planning our summer component. Participating teachers will also be trained in Pre-AP strategies," she said.

In addition to the participating campuses, collaborative partners in the project include: Laredo Independent School District, United Independent School District, Communities in Schools, Literacy Volunteers of America, ACT Southwest Region, and The College Board, Southwestern Regional Office.

The program is administered by Dr. Julio F. Madrigal, longtime A&M International faculty member and director of the University's Office of Special Programs. Site coordinators are Sonia Infante Alvarado and Ivan Ramirez.

For additional information, contact Dr. Madrigal or Salinas-Riojas at 326.2700, visit offices in Killam Library 332 or email to iramirez@tamiu.edu , salvarado@tamiu.edu , or bsalinas@tamiu.edu.

University office hours are from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday-Friday.

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Affairs and Information Services at pais@tamiu.edu