Aldine ISD and YES Prep Public Schools collaborated earlier this spring. The result is “iASPIRE,” a college initiatives program. YES Prep will offer the “iASPIRE” class at Eisenhower Ninth Grade School next year. The program will transition with students as they advance to Eisenhower High School. The program will foster a college-going culture at the campuses. The main goal is to prepare students to succeed in college.
Students and their families can take part in the four-year “iASPIRE” elective course. The program will kick off in the 2015-2016 school year. This course is ONLY offered to entering freshman students at Eisenhower Ninth Grade School and is a free program.
Most of the students in “iASPIRE” will be the first in their families to attend college. Data from 2014 shows that 80 percent of students at the ninth grade campus were economically disadvantaged. Aquilla Aubrey feels the program will make a difference. Aubrey serves as the administrator for college initiatives at AISD.
“We have to convince students that higher education is possible,” Aubrey said. “We want to see more students pursuing either a four-year or a two-year college degree or a trade school. We need to have them thinking about college now.”
In the “iASPIRE” class, there will be a strong focus on academics. There will also be specific targets the students need to reach for college to be a possibility. Teachers will encourage students to adopt habits that will be essential in college.
“The class will teach the skills necessary to successfully graduate from college,” added Aubrey. “The class will form part of each participating student’s schedule in 2015-2016. The four-year course will continue at Eisenhower High School.“
A big key to the program’s success is commitment from not only the students themselves but also their families. Aldine ISD and YES Prep Public Schools held the first enrollment meeting April 21 at Eisenhower Ninth Grade School. The event brought 50 families. Parents and students learned about the program’s mission. One of the first forms introduced to students and their parents was the Commitment Form. It outlines the program’s policies and values. It requires full commitment to ensure students succeed. AISD and YES Prep will also hold financial literacy seminars for parents and students. These will inform them about the many options to pay for college.
Once the students make the commitment, they will connect with a dedicated support team of educators at the start of their freshman year at Eisenhower Ninth Grade School. The team will work with students to enhance their college decisions and help them complete classes. The main drive behind the program is to increase students’ college and scholarship opportunities.
LaTonia Amerson is hoping to see many students and their families take part in this opportunity. She serves as principal at the ninth grade campus.
“This is a great opportunity for students,” said Amerson. “The students that take part in this initiative are making a choice about what they want for their future. I ask parents to encourage their children to use this opportunity. It will give them a competitive edge for college and career readiness. This unique program teaches students how to reach their dreams. In committing to accept the challenge, they are investing in their future.”
Amerson sees the program as a way to build systems that support good habits in students. But she also sees this opportunity as a way create positive change in families and communities.
“Everyone involved in this hopes to see students develop the mindset to go to college,” added Amerson. “Changing students’ mindsets can have a strong impact on their lives and our communities. When they succeed, we all succeed. They will serve as influencers in their families and communities. They will be able to help and make a difference in others’ lives. This is what we are striving for. We feel that a college-going culture is what changes communities.
“We are going to support students in every way possible. As the saying goes, ‘Nothing worthwhile is easy.’ This will require hard work and dedication. We are asking students to challenge themselves. And we are going to hold them accountable and be right there with them every step of the way.”
Students can register for “iASPIRE” now. Simply go online to commit by visiting the Eisenhower Ninth Grade School website.
For more information contact Aquilla Aubrey at (281) 878-0900. Folks can also contact Elizabeth Hernández at (956) 802-8084. She serves as program manager for Aldine/YES Prep College Initiatives Compact.
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