Teachers to help improve college readiness courses to 8th grade students

When the Elon Musk Foundation granted Los Fresnos CISD $624,148, district administrators knew this was the perfect resource for STEM education and college readiness programs.
Immediately after the grant was awarded, district administration went to work and began the refinement of the plan for improving services to students.
Now, the implementation of the plan begins. District officials recently met with a team of talented staff members to lead the efforts in an initiative that will be the cornerstone for the application of the resources provided by the grant.
Los Fresnos United teachers Melizza Garcia, Carlos Bruce and Jessica Burnias Martinez have been tapped for their talents to add college readiness courses to eighth-grade students at the district’s three middle schools starting this fall.
The classes will be career-oriented to expose students to opportunities after high school. The courses will include hands-on learning, exposure to career opportunities, field trips as part of the Texas Education Agency’s Programs of Study.
Improving college readiness for middle school students is one of the goals the district hopes to achieve.
“We firmly believe the on ramps for college and career readiness are at the middle school level,” Superintendent Gonzalo Salazar said. “This initiative is the next step in providing every student with the skill set needed for post-secondary success. Creating an awareness about the opportunities available after high school, how to navigate the college admissions process and identifying programs of study will empower students and help them forge their own career pathway.”
The teachers are looking forward to helping the middle-school students.
“It is important for 8th grade students to have a better understanding of what the future holds for them,” Martinez said. “By the end of their 8th grade year, students are asked to choose a pathway for the classes they will take in high school. This empowers students with the knowledge of what courses align with which careers and which careers align with their strengths, preferences, and goals; thus, allowing them to make better life impacting choices.”
TEA’s Programs of Study initiative include:
  • Ensure course sequences provide district and campus flexibility in program offerings
  • Lead to postsecondary education and training opportunities
  • Expand opportunities for students to engage in STEM-related occupations
  • Align programs of study to endorsements
“Planting the seed early to implement a plan or a series of plans will benefit the student, parents, and staff to recognize strengths in which a middle school student may capitalize on,” Bruce said. “College readiness in middle school will become a year of self-reflection, discovery and goal setting.”
The teachers had ideas they would like to implement into the new program.
“We will definitely have a lot of activities where students will be doing the research and presentation of information because we want this course to have the component of self-awareness,” Garcia said. “I am looking forward to exploring different areas of what is needed for them to achieve their goals in education and life.”
“I would like this to be a class in which all students look forward to attending each day,” Martinez said. “I want to empower students to be successful citizens, workers, and leaders. I want this class to give students an in-depth understanding of what careers, courses, and future possibilities are available to them. I want students to leave this course confident in the Program of Study they choose for high school.”
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