By Dedra Cordle
When you are in high school, the prospect of college can seem daunting. There are applications to fill out, financial aid opportunities to seek, entrance exams to take and the back-of-the-mind thought of having to make decisions that could impact the rest of your life.
“It can be overwhelming for even the most prepared student,” said Dave Stewart, deputy superintendent of the South-Western City Schools District.
In order to try to lessen their tide of anxiety, the district announced a partnership with a local non-profit whose mission is to make the entire transition easier on students.
At the Oct. 22 board of education meeting, representatives with I Know I Can spoke about the program and their plan to implement college and career readiness at the high school level.
According to executive director Katina Fullen, there will be a two-team staff at each high school, one to serve freshmen and sophomores, and the other to serve juniors and seniors.
The personnel serving the freshmen and sophomores are called “success coaches,” and their job is to motivate students and get them excited about higher education.
“The ultimate goal is to make sure they are on track for the next grade,” Fullen said.
The personnel serving the juniors and seniors are called “college advising managers,” and their job is to prepare students on filling out applications, seeking scholarships, studying for examinations and continuing to motivate them for the next step.
Throughout this process, the I Know I Can staff will also work with educators and counselors regarding test scores, grade point averages, and personal goals of the students.
During the presentation, board member Mindy Garverick asked Fullen if this program was available to every student.
She replied that it was.
“They will need to work hard to avoid us,” she joked
While the pilot program – which is being funded through grants by Columbus State Community College and the Franklin County Department of Job and Family Services – kicked off earlier this year, there are already two I Know I Can employees at Franklin Heights and Westland High Schools. There is one employee at Central Crossing and one at Grove City High School. Stewart said come January, one additional employee will be added at each of the latter two schools.
Stewart said though this program is in its infancy, an impact is already being felt.
“This summer they held a boot camp for ACT preparation,” he explained. “There were over 130 students who participated, which is phenomenal.”
Another positive result of the program, he said, was the recent college application day at Westland where hundreds of students filled out applications for college and completed their FAFSA forms.
“I think this program will truly be outstanding for our district.”
He said it was important for the district to become involved in this partnership because of their mutual goals in breaking barriers for students.
“As I said before, the prospect and preparation for college can be overwhelming,” Stewart said. “By implementing these services and working together, I think it will go a long way in breaking down barriers and lessening the fears that many of these students have.”
The I Know I Can program was established in 1988 and has been active in the Columbus City Schools district throughout that time. Recently, the program has expanded due to grant funding and is now at SWCS and at Whitehall.