James O’Meara: “Trip Wires”

So the trip wires, and again, the lessons you learned along the way, you keep them in your back pocket for the time when they they’re most needed. And so I actually learned about the trip wires in Kentucky. There’d been a study which was by students for students. And the whole idea of student voice helping people like me understand what are the barriers, what they use trip wise to going to university. They came down to three. The first one they called Birthright. In other words, if you were a first generation of aspiring first generation, you may not have the mentors and the structures in place to be successful. The second one was around financial barriers, and here in Laredo, as with rural Kentucky. The whole notion of. Investing in education. At the same point, considering keeping the lights on or keeping food on the table, sometimes it’s a very big dilemma. So this idea of how do we mitigate the cost of college, we’re going to university and remaining at university as well. So the challenge of having to work and study, which may be also a trip wide success once at the university, is a pretty important consideration. So Birthright. Financial reports, and the last one is readiness. We’re actually in Kentucky, they talked about on readiness. And this really got us to start to think about Will. Before you’re actually at college. What do you need to have mastered or achieved or put into place to be successful or on the track to getting to college? And you start to talk and listening to the folks, local communities, because that’s where the wisdom really generated from. And so I started to understand its sixth grade was a pretty big decision point for both the school administrators and the families. Here in Texas, you make the decision now by seventh grade. What endorsement? Or what path you follow? And your journey towards the career. College. On military readiness. And so we said to talk to folks and sad to say. What supports how do they make those who are the mentors along the way? And we found that in some cases, depending on your access to the school counselors who often were focusing on at high school on college applications. They really didn’t. Some people may have been at risk of not having access to the mentor they needed at the time mean they did most. And then one day I took an invitation for a wonderful lady, the need to Gaza. She was a visionary, really, she’s the vision of this story. She talked to bit about TAFE. The Texas Association of Future Educators. And invited me down to Macallan, Texas. We’re at that stage over three 3000 students had gathered. To compete in state titles in teaching. And I was blown away. And then standing at the table, I’m greeted by some of the students that you see in our program today, who at that stage were high school students. Showing me very proudly of what they’ve done. And the successes they had achieved. Of the two districts. United High School was actually told that he was that strong at regionals. You should just go straight to state. Because they dominate the competition. And so you start to ask the question, what if, what if we started to ensure that anyone at any school had access to peer mentors? With a clear indication of why I’m doing this, where I’m going and how I’m going to get the. What would that mean for the teacher pathways in the right of? Because there’s four pathways. We have the traditional pathway. I finished school. And then I go to university for four years. For us here in TAMIU, that’s about 10% of our pipeline. That another 20% is due credit. So these are the ones with the right, the sufficient math scores to get early credit. And bring in up to 60 semester credit hours. Which represents the financial barrier or reducing the financial barrier by $30,000. Then we have the transfers from the community college, and it’s about 60 to 70%. Because often. The lower division or the 1000 2000 level courses can be taken to community college. At a reduced rate. So, again, a financial consideration. The idea that truly liberating. Is that the majority of students there are part time and so the two years actually turns into five. Now, along those five years, they could be. Challenges, I need to work more because I’m part time I can work more, so life fills the gap of education. They could make the choice of starting a family, which adds additional pressures. So 70% of the population was going through those challenges, and in the last one was the transfer, so someone an athlete or someone transferring or a family member from a Border Patrol family that’s been transferred here to the border. So the more I understood the vision of the Neeta and the needs of this community. I started to recognize that the TAFE chapter of this Texas Association of Future Educators. Provided this peer network and peer support to elevate one belonging. I’ve seen now that the students travel up to Laredo from up and down the river, have that connection to that community and a feeling that they belong is important. This is where inclusion comes in for us, inclusion, the inclusion of voices, which includes the students, their families. The teachers. The school council is. All the folks who can help us better understand the needs of the students and how we can provide the support they need and the enrichment activities they need at the time, they need it most. We’re pretty happy that around 90% of our students graduate fully certified. Having said that. There’s a group this year, 60 students. It didn’t receive the support they needed in the time they need, in other words, if financial aid ran out before, they could actually qualify. In their certification exams have completed clinical teaching. So we’ve increased the inclusion, we’ve got the voices, so the supports there to get access and success, but we really didn’t deliver on that third pace mobility. The difference between someone. Graduating from TAMIU with a teaching certificate and non certificate. It’s $50,000 to 55 starting for a teacher versus 12,000 for a teacher, right? If we don’t get that right. We’ll get closer to where success for all access for rule and mobility for all than we could be reinforcing the stereotype that certain groups of the population really are not cut out for the college going. That’s our big challenge here. We’ve got 2.4% difference between the demographics of our teachers and our students, so it’s not about more Hispanic teachers, it’s actually providing pathways for every corner, for any learner from any corner of Laredo. To achieve access, success and mobility.

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