Dropping Back In: Episode 4: Working for the Future

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Dropping Back In: Episode 4: Working for the Future

my mom has a third grade education and I have a high school diploma I think I’m on top of the world right now there was no one in my family who’d been to college and that wasn’t an expectation it’s all about getting that GED and that’s it so and for me that’s where it was no one asked me what was next after that GED I think that making the decision to take the GED immediately created opportunity I did not feel like a stepping stone until I actually started at the community college I realized that it was actually opening a door to a four-year university or beyond I have heard our song you this program is part of American graduate let’s make it happen a public media initiative made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting you know I wanted all these big things in life like to own my own home and to own a nice sports car and not have to go steal it to be able to feed my children properly clothe them properly send them to better schools and I went to my mentors and my teachers made me realize how much money a high school dropout makes compared to a college graduate it made me realize that I needed to go to college the gap between rich and poor is growing in this country and the single biggest indicator of whether you’re going to participate in the haves rather than that have nots it’s whether you got a college education our colleges are really good at developing students that are college level performers that transfer to four-year university they’re great at developing workers that are going to go into knowledge work industries you know radiologic technology and nursing and computer support specialist medical assisting they’re really good at this with they’re not good at is helping these students that drop out of school or don’t feel like their college material or come from families that may not understand it they’re not good at getting those students to become good college students my first moment on my college campus here’s this 1.9 GPA high school graduate former gang member former delinquent former dropout showing up to a college campus I mean I felt like I was not landed on planet Mars and unequipped unprepared if we’d all love for every one of the students entering our institutions to be fully prepared the question isn’t what we wish for the question is what do we have community colleges two-thirds of all community college students arrive underprepared if colleges are going to fulfill their open access mission if community colleges are going to help those students succeed they have to do something radically different than they’ve done in the past what I find is that due to see my name is Diego Navarro and I work for Cabrillo College you should know how to run the Academy for college excellence program is a program for underprepared college students so students who are coming from environments where the schools were underperforming or something happened their lives where they disconnected from education I had pretty much lost hope when I came here to Cabrillo to begin with it was my trying to rebuild hope I’d lost my job my everything I owned ace um started as an intervention as an alternative to prisons and so we did we do end up having a population with a lot of students that are considered not just high risk but but ultra high risk we have a lot of students who have been formerly incarcerated we have a lot of students who are overcoming addictions we have a lot of students who have grown up in abusive household there was a lot of violets in the home growing up and my

mom and we split up our family split up when I was in eighth grade and I went to live with my grandparents I took a dark road it started off in high school drugs alcohol or however I could get out of my own skin and I did I in a lot of drugs for a lot of years I dropped out my senior year I was in a car accident that my best friend died in Jesse segment and going back to school after that although I was on track to graduate I I would look at books and papers in the words would just float off the page and I just couldn’t concentrate there’s something that has these students go off track it may not be academics and maybe something else has to do with their spirit has to do with the feelings they have I used to always associate PTSD with the military there’s no way I could have it and it ends up you know anybody that’s you know suffered through a traumatic experience potentially has you know some form of PTSD Stanford became really interested in this topic of poster extra so he developed this index for returning combat veterans and then they took that index and they went to an inner-city school and they applied the same thing to elementary school students the same index and what they found was the PTSD symptoms of these elementary school students was two times higher than in returning combat veterans because these younger people are facing it at a younger age so their brains aren’t fully developed yet and many of our students come from tough neighborhoods and so what happens is that the experiences you have in school the experiences you have walking to school the experiences you have interacting with individuals in these environments create a stress inside of you but what we do is we bring these students in we put them through a program that actually aligns with how the brain functions your needs aren’t being met or your needs are being threatened you go into bio reaction we actually have curriculum in the classroom that does the shift inside of the student so instead of providing the service from the outside we have the student make the change from the inside ok it’s not counseling it’s education where we have them rethink what their school experience was and how do they want it to be different they start out in this intense of two weeks and the reason why we do an intensive is that if you want to change your identity your image you need to have school become the dominant thing in your life rather than everything else that pulls you away from school a lot of it wasn’t so much understanding the material a lot of it was just well how much time am I putting in and I really wasn’t putting time College was in my priority men with my priority relationships with my priority the ACE program is a cohort based program where you go through all the same classes with the same group of people so you get to know everyone and you build relationships when you learn that you can apply yourself in different ways and that you can learn to partner up with others that say have a different working style that’s complementary to yours and to just see these students learning how to communicate more effectively really rewarding that curriculum is so powerful and rich I’m just in those two weeks alone you see a tremendous amount of transformation and students when we went through the listening portion I learned how to become a better listener how not to interrupt how not to eat while you’re talking how to really listen for people’s needs and wats not just listen and then you know get them to be quiet so you can talk so those two weeks reorient the students because they’re spending more time in school than they’re spending in the rest of their life so they start to develop this identity I’m here in college now it creates this gravity the gravitas they feel this connection with this identity of being a college student and I belong here from that we put them into a rigorous about 13 unit semester courses that are one level below college so get them to one level below college if they pass that course now they’re college level so in one semester you get them ready for college-level performance I learned that there is no wrong answer that it’s all a learning experience and I learned that it’s okay this is how I learned this is a part of me when we say it’s okay to make mistakes they’re like what because a lot of them have been punished for making mistakes and that’s when they start to open up and start to ask questions and and really their voice is just blossom it gave me the skills and the mentality and that the courage to go against the grain to to be that student that the teachers enjoy having in that class because I’m always participating and I’m always raising my hand asking questions and going to office hours and after that full semester in ace I got straight A’s first

time ever in my life that was just huge and it really opened my eyes and in turn my kids saw that when they were just starting grade school and I saw the look in their eyes and their aspiration and their longing to go to school and it really gave me that sense of completion when I first came here to cabrillo college I just knew that I was going to school but I was kind of just going through the motions I wasn’t really headed towards a career I was just taking classes but now not only do I want to transfer to a university to CSUN v Monterey Bay I want to actually continue on to get my masters and a PhD I want dr. Francesca Lopez not just Francesca Lopez perhaps the GED student that is interested in going to higher education may back off of it because they don’t know how may back off of it because they don’t know what it feels like to actually be in a class and feel successful and be responsible for that success and don’t have the skills to maintain the grades or you know or the habits that you need in order to be a successful student because there’s something inside of them maybe they were shamed maybe they were put down they’re afraid to raise their hands and those are learned behaviors that happen to them in school and so what I find is these students come in and they don’t have the behaviors or habits to be effective it’s not usually not intellectual yes they can’t read and write at college level but that has nothing to do with if you’re smart or not it’s all about developing the capacity to struggle so if the student doesn’t have the capacity to struggle they tend to go away they tend not to do the work so what is it that you need to do to get a student to suffer if you will I mean school wasn’t fun for them so how do you get them to actually change their attitudes so school is something they want and if they’re willing to struggle through the blocks that they faced before that made them feel inadequate there comes a time when you have to draw a line point of no return and you decide that whatever happens next you won’t go backwards if you fall in place that’s fine but you won’t flow backwards and I think for me that was the piece maybe it was stubborn it so maybe it was just desperate pneus but but realizing that that I had this one shot this door was open and there was no guarantee and nothing was going to open and I needed to find the strength to walk through it and stay on the other side we have a long history in this country of low-income students of certain minority students African American Hispanic Native American students succeeding at much lower levels than others and colleges has a right to expect that a college knows that and that the college is going to work hard to make sure that every group of students has a chance to succeed it will do you have to do what you have to do to survive you have to work at 14 you have to work three I was 11 years old so I got here in April so by the paddle in September my lamp enrolled me in school so i started my 6th grade it was hard I mean I was just wait for the day to end because I would just sit there and do nothing exciting understand the language and understand the instructions that the teacher was giving back then if you were Spanish speaking didn’t matter if if you pass your class is really great they would just move you on to the following level I was working part-time job at the cashier and they offered me a second job so I was like why am I still here what am I gonna do after high school and so I just took the job and I kept out of school when I reach high school ah not only i but a lot of my friends with that okay why am i continued going to school if by the time I finished high school I don’t have a Social Security number I’m not gonna be able to get a good job back when I was younger I used to tell my mom that she was always working and she never had time for us but now I realized that she had to work and I don’t want that for me i won I want to be able to work and also be there before my kids because I mean what am I gonna do if I

work two jobs and nothing my my my girls as I grow up if you were over 30 you are not able to apply if you were younger than 30 then you had the opportunity and not to have any criminal record and it required to have a GD or a high school diploma and so we didn’t apply until we had our high of our RGB the first one since by learning grammar and editing carefully see the two injured or parallel I’ll call the GD administration office like every we do you have the results yet they have the results there so you know I think they really knew me they’re like no they’re not in yet by tomorrow yeah I was huge for us having our gb hey was I mean it was a good thing that thing he was a good thing what we found is that students often times aren’t sure about how to go to college they aren’t sure that they can afford it they aren’t sure that it can be successful so we designed the gateways to city college’s program KD told us about the Gateway Program and that that uh they help you financially to DP up to nine classes so we thought about it you know to serve virginity’s drink there we go a gateway scholar upon entering my classroom can expect to learn how to be successful in college academics understanding of resources a sense of self confidence and also career options ultimately we find that students don’t know what their options are in terms of jobs in terms of college in terms of classes they don’t know how to work their way through the system and the confusing array of choices that confronts them when they choose to go to college so what we are attempting to do here is make that path a lot more clear by talking to them about some of their career options or educational options and by charting out what courses they should take and what the path looks like you know my daughter she’s already Oh mom I’m so worried it’s almost college time what I’m gonna do is he’s five years old she’s like I don’t know what wasn’t University I’m gonna go to I don’t know what I’m gonna do so for me that that’s for everyone I don’t remember ever telling my parents I’m going to call so universe it I think for so many of my students they they’ve never had anyone to just say hey I’m gonna help you they’ve heard it but they’ve not experienced it I don’t want them to become a statistic I want them to become a success story koala I mean we had our motivation coming every direction from teachers from staff on our kids which was like the biggest one you know I my daughter she will tell us I’m so proud of you mommy and daddy I mean those are okay where’s my motivated a vice it’s like I don’t want my daughter to have an excuse oh I’m not gonna college because she didn’t go you know it’s not happening it’s I’m not gonna repeat the cycle that we were it you know we have to break that there are young people who for whom a four-year college degree is not the best fit and we have to face that fact the fact that we resist facing that fact means that we fail to prepare the way for young people who need options other than four year college degrees a successful career as possible for anybody who first of all completes high school that’s going to be that’s a given now and then chooses very wisely what they go to their post-secondary training in college is not a destination but part of a pathway that is really something that a lot of colleges need to pay attention to because remember what students are experiencing what students care about is getting an education so they have a brighter future whether that education happened in k-12 in a two-year college and a four-year college and graduate school probably is sort of artificial from a student’s perspective right for a student it’s all education and it’s all to lead to a really good life that comes next however they define that i’m deb shepherd i’m president of Lake Area Technical Institute which is located in Watertown South Dakota our mission is to educate our students so they can get a job upon graduation the one thing that you can build your life on is a solid job and a job that pays you a decent wage ninety percent of students list that is the number one

reason they go to college and so the colleges that are most successful aren’t just imagining what it is that employers want they are in regular weekly sometimes daily contact with folks in the industry to make sure that what they’re teaching aligns to what the industry needs the employers that are looking to employ us out of this school they come in until the staff what they should be teaching us and then the teachers and staff set it up so we are learning what the employers want us to learn when we get out into the real world and we see that at Lake Area Technical Institute there are 30 programs the heads of the 30 programs right on up to the the president of the college are in regular contact with the employers who are hiring students and they’re able to turn their programs on a dime when something needs to be changed new equipment needs to be brought in if they can’t afford it they go to the industry we currently have some technicians from the school and they’ve been great the thing is we need more of them you know so that’s why we’re here today we’re meeting the advisors we want to see what we can do for the school a lot of times the industry will approach us and say I can’t find enough people you need to start a program in the case of heavy equipment operator there wasn’t a program anywhere in fact we’ve been told we’re only the ninth program in the nation I don’t feel like you can book learn how to operate heavy equipment you need to get the feel of the machine to build a feel of what you’re doing with the machine and also to get what I want for the students is to get for them to have a picture of what they’re doing before we even start moving dirt so it’s almost like an art lake area Tech has a rule that in most of their programs that you must engage in hands-on education within the first three weeks of starting class and enabling students to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom in real-life settings in hands-on education engages students number one who don’t do as well with book learning but might do better with hands-on education nice thing I like about this program is we only sit in the classroom for an hour a day maybe maybe less than that and you could go outside and run equipment right when you start so I kind of fell in love with just running equipment so figure out get into the program and spend the rest of my life running heavy equipment they used to think that people came to schools like this because they weren’t college material and that phrase around here is just fighting words to us when they get here when we get them into something that they like they will blossom they will do it they will work harder than anybody because they see the prize they know why they’re doing it when they come in the door they have to pick their major and so they are accepted to that program they’re not accepted to the school / say they’re accepted into that program and for each program we have admission standards so if you’re going into welding you have to be able to read a certain level and math at a certain level if you’re going into nursing then there’s a different test you take in a different set of metrics that we’re looking at these 30 programs are block structured looks a lot like high school does in a sense you arrive at eight or nine in the morning and you’re done by 2 30 or three in the afternoon four or five days a week and the instructors have decided what it is that matters most and they incorporate that into a four or five-day week most colleges offer a thousand fifteen hundred program courses 100 hundred and fifty programs and that that’s sort of a dizzying array for students and helping students either navigate that system much more effectively or more impressively perhaps narrow the choices of courses helps help define for students what really matters and may help them get through at a much higher rate the success rates are remarkable Lake area tech has a 76 to 80 percent graduation rate depending on the year you look that compares with a national rate no matter how you count to forty percent or lower so it’s twice the national rate 39 we think one of the reasons a graduation rate is so high is we get the students in the right lane right away and then the way the programs are structured we break them down into tiny groups I like having the small teacher-to-student ratio because you can actually know your teachers and you can go in and talk to them about whatever you want it doesn’t necessarily have to be school related right away from day one there in their program with their instructors everybody knows them they know their name they know where they’re from they know what they want to do they know their strengths and weaknesses and I think that’s one of the reasons it

works so well that’s it alright once these young people find what they want to do there’s nobody that does better than they are I mean it’s awesome to work with those kids a student should be able to expect that they are getting a skill that is highly marketable and that they will get a job our placement rate the last report we did was ninety-nine percent we’re either employed or they were continuing their education first and foremost I want them to bail to have a job no matter what it is in Bell to have a work ethic to show up on time and give a hundred percent to earn their pay what we expect from our graduates in return is that they do a good job and they make us proud and they do that every day but we expect them to work hard and advance in their industries and then eventually become leaders this program is part of American graduate let’s make it happen a public media initiative made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting