BY MARTIN GALINDO
Career & College Clubs promote college readiness Desire, community, family, education. Those simple but powerful words have shaped the lives of many successful individuals. Just ask Randall Martinez, who along with his six siblings was born and raised in the Southern California community of La Puente. He graduated from Bassett High School and the University of Southern California and joined the Cordoba Corp. Randall is now Cordoba’s executive vice president/chief operating officer. But the success story does not end there. In 1998, Randall and his sister Ingrid established the Martinez Family Scholarship to assist outstanding graduates of Bassett High School who show the ability and desire to succeed in higher education. Thanks to Randall and his sister, the success story continues. There are those who believe that a story like Randall’s would be improbable, but not his family and the teachers and community members who guided him along his road to success. There is no doubt that the Bassett Unified School District has challenges similar to some working-class Latino communities. In Bassett USD, college graduates make up only about 10 percent of the community, but 86 percent of Bassett students graduate high school, and more than 40 percent of those are eligible for admission to the University of California or California State University. Graduating from high school and going on to higher education is possible—even expected—in our district. Just ask principal Martha Arceo at Don Julian Elementary School, which is becoming a “No Excuses University” school. Beginning in kindergarten and through grade 5, each classroom adopts the name of a college or university, and students learn about it; this demystifies the concept of college, especially for students who might not be acquainted with college graduates. This approach is helping to make higher education the norm rather than the exception. The expectation that Don Julian students will be college-ready follows them to Torch Middle School. Just ask Maria Herrera, the dynamic and inspiring counselor who brought the Career & College Clubs program
(www.careerandcollegeclubs.org) to Torch Middle School last year and received a grant of $500. Career & College Clubs are not unlike other programs designed to help students succeed after high school, but two notable traits set them apart. First, the CCC focuses on students in the seventh and eighth grades, much earlier than other college-access or life-planning programs but consistent with Bassett USD’s emphasis on early-grades college awareness. Second, a CCC emphasizes student leadership. In a best-case scenario, the students themselves would ”teach” each session in the curriculum and make all the important decisions. This concept is aligned with the idea that one really understands a concept when one is able to effectively teach others. Overall, the CCC is designed to promote two objectives: • empower students to take responsibility for planning and engaging in their own college and career road map; and • provide the framework for students to promote a college-success culture among their peers. The two-year program provides a structure for youths to explore their interests and link them to potential careers and higher education opportunities. Topics covered include the three California public postsecondary education systems, private postsecondary schools, A-G requirements, college admissions, financial aid, traditional and nontraditional careers, budgeting, and financial literacy. Students start in the seventh grade, working their way through 10 lessons followed by a college visit to give them on-campus experience; Torch’s students, for example, have visited California Polytechnic University at Pomona. They continue in the eighth grade with an “honors” curriculum that includes three mini-projects and a visit to a local employer. For an administrator, the program has three very attractive features. First, the CCC is an outstanding complement to our academic and extracurricular offerings,
Martin Galindo began his teaching career in the Los Angeles Unified School District in 1981, rising through several LAUSD administrative posts before becoming superintendent of the Bassett Unified School District in July 2010.
providing knowledge and tools that will help our students succeed after they leave the district. One of the main areas the CCC emphasizes is the A-G requirements for admission into the UC and CSU systems. Second, the curriculum is very flexible; it can be implemented during class time or free periods, after school or at other convenient opportunities. Moreover, the emphasis on student leadership will result in fewer demands on teachers and counselors than do other programs we’ve seen. Finally, the CCC is free. The two-year curriculum, training, and ongoing support are provided at no cost to the district. Of course there are some internal costs for the program— food for club meetings, transportation to college or employer visits, etc.—but they are minimal
and well worth the investment. Moreover, the organization that developed and promotes the CCC, ALL Management Corp., offers grant money for sites to help offset these costs and is dedicated to providing resources and services to students and families so they can succeed in education beyond high school. Being accepted into a college or university is possible with the necessary desire, an engaged community, family support and a quality education. By having role models like Randall Martinez, dedicated administrators like Martha Arceo, a strong core of teachers, and counselors like Maria Herrera who inspire others—and with quality programs like Career & College Clubs—the Bassett Unified School District is on the way to developing a systemic college going culture. Our story continues … cs
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President Martha Fluor, Newport-Mesa USD President-elect Jill Wynns, San Francisco County USD
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SU M M E R 2011
Vice President Cindy Marks, Modesto City Schools Immediate Past President Frank Pugh, Santa Rosa City Schools Executive Director Vernon Billy
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