Hello again from Marquette, Michigan. It is hard to believe that I am almost nine months into my VISTA year. That is, until I look back on everything that we have accomplished.
In my role as Transitions Coordinator for the Marquette-Alger Technical Middle College (MATMC), I have had the opportunity to assist in the establishment of a new and innovative educational institution. The mission of MATMC is to make a college degree a possibility to students who otherwise would not have pursued a postsecondary education. It targets students who have traditionally been underserved, especially those who are unengaged and at-risk of dropping out of high school, economically disadvantaged, and first generation college students. A key component of the program is the gradual transition from high school to college and a support curriculum that addresses college readiness, employability and social maturity skills.
In January Governor Snyder recognized the MATMC in his State of the State speech and introduced one of our students, Cody Revord. Sadly, our excitement was tempered less than a month later when Cody passed away from injuries suffered in a snowboarding accident. This was a difficult time, as I had to deal with my own grief and coordinate counseling services for the students who were close to Cody.
One of my main responsibilities is to establish and strengthen relationships with our partner high schools and Northern Michigan University. I work closely with all parties to develop systems and procedures and ensure a smooth transition for our students. I coordinate class scheduling, tutoring and study groups, and track student progress. I plan and facilitate monthly student Success Seminars covering academic and employability skills.
The first cohort has collectively raised their GPA and successfully completed their first college course (as high school juniors). The success of our pilot year has led to the planned expansion of the program for the 2015-16 school year. We hope to serve students from nine high schools and our capacity will grow from 11 to 50 additional students. In preparation for the expansion, I participated in presentations to local school boards and informational sessions for prospective students and their parents. I also spoke to several middle school classes about their future opportunities at MATMC. We are also expanding our programs. The Industrial Maintenance Academy is now Technology, Engineering and Occupational Sciences Academy with the addition of five new areas of study-Automotive Service Technology, Aviation Maintenance, Building Technology, Electrical Technology and HVACR (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration).
Looking to the future, I have updated and expanded our application packet for the 2015-16 year. We are currently reviewing applications and interviewing candidates. I am excited to celebrate the successes of our first year and spend the summer preparing for the class of 2018.
Each blog post is written by one of our program's VISTAs!