GEAR UP students and coordinators standing for a picture

September 22, 2022

LANCASTER, Texas -- To college and beyond! The Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Program, or GEAR UP, is now in Lancaster ISD. The district was awarded the GEAR UP grant from the Region 10 Education Service Center. The grant offers targeted college and career readiness events and activities to current eighth grade students at Lancaster Middle School. 

“GEAR UP is a great program for students because it gives them access to different opportunities they may not have,” said Brittney Hervey, GEAR UP Site Coordinator at Lancaster Middle School. “We also frequently engage with parents, so they’re informed about what their student needs to begin preparing for college.”

Hervey and fellow Site Coordinator Alexis Wasson are located at Lancaster Middle school for the 2022-2023 school year. As the eighth-grade class advances to each grade level, Hervey and Wasson will move campuses with them from ninth through twelfth grade. The GEAR UP grant follows eighth-grade students through their first year of college. 

Hervey and Wasson hosted the GEAR UP kickoff event on Wednesday, September 21, 2022. They collaborated with a group of student leaders to introduce the program to their peers in a fun way. 

“The kickoff is a big pep rally for eighth graders,” said Hervey. “The cheerleaders welcomed the students and helped get them excited. We also had a DJ, games, skits, and tons of fun activities to get the students pumped about the program.”

The site coordinators say they have mapped out the rest of the semester for the GEAR UP program and have plenty of activities for students and parents.

“We will have tutoring sessions twice a week after school,” said Wasson. “Twice a month, we’ll do lunch bunches with the students to give them exposure to different career options. There will also be monthly field trips where we’ll visit job sites or different college campuses in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. We’re looking forward to an exciting year.”

Hervey and Wasson have also planned Career Cafes for the students based on the different programs of study offered at Lancaster High School. Students will sign up for the Career Cafe based on their interests and attend the events in small groups.

“The layout and structure of the Career Cafes will vary,” said Wasson. “Sometimes, it will be Brittney and I finding a resource related to a program of study and sharing it with the students. Other times, it may be an expert who shares their experiences in their profession with the students. We want to keep things exciting and fresh for the students.”

In addition to getting students involved, the GEAR UP site coordinators will work with parents to inform them of opportunities after graduation through interactive parent/family engagement events. 

“We want to host a ‘Fund Your Future' night for families,” said Hervey. “Parents will learn about eighth grade scholarships that are available. They’ll also receive information about other scholarships that students can apply for before their junior year. Representatives from banks will also attend some parent engagement events to assist in opening savings accounts for students.”

Hervey and Wasson took the students on their first GEAR UP field trip. The Lancaster Middle School band students visited Dallas College Cedar Valley for Preview Day. Students toured the campus, saw the veterinary technology program students in action, and experienced campus life.

“This is just the beginning of a fun-filled year with the GEAR UP cohort,” said Wasson. 

GEAR UP currently partners with The Princeton Review, Texas Instruments, Black Girls Drone, Student Success Agency, and the University of Texas at Arlington to provide different services for the students. 

For questions or for more information about the GEAR UP program at LMS, please email the GEAR UP site coordinators, Brittney Hervey or Alexis Wasson, or call 972-218-1660.