GEAR UP students tour the TCAT at Whiteville

Taking a college tour while in middle school has two main goals – helping students plan for college and career success and understanding how they can prepare to achieve those goals. Haywood Middle School’s eighth-grade students walked the halls and visited classrooms of the Tennessee College of Applied Technology at Whiteville during a Haywood County GEAR UP TN college tour on February 21. Two hundred-forty-students learned about the various programs, including HVAC, welding, administrative office technology, computer information systems, automotive technology, nursing, industrial electricity, industrial maintenance, and machine tool technology. Students learned about the various requirements for entrance, cost of attendance, advantages of attending a tech college, and they were allowed to assist with some demonstrations of the different types of equipment and models used for training in the programs. The tour was one of several tours that the Class of 2018 will experience throughout middle school and high school years.

The GEAR UP program is one of the continuous efforts being made by Haywood County Schools to ensure all Haywood County students successfully develop a postsecondary plan. In addition to the GEAR UP program, a program called the 100 POI or Postsecondary Option Initiative that uses data to develop plans to make sure every student has a postsecondary plan after graduating from Haywood High School, is being implemented in the Haywood County School District. Many efforts being made within the school district are in direct line with Governor Bill Haslam’s  “Drive to 55” initiative that is aimed at increasing the number of Tennesseeans with a college degree or certificate to 55 percent by 2025. Also, Haslam’s “Tennessee Promise” in his fourth annual State of the State address, included the proposal to provide two years of free tuition at a college or technology school to Tennessee graduates. “Students don’t necessarily have to decide on a career in the eighth grade, but we want all students to be fully aware of all the college opportunities they will have available to them after graduation. Haywood County Schools are making progress toward getting all students ready for college and a career,” said Jackie Whitten, GEAR UP Site Coordinator.