Program Helps Students Cross the Bridge from High School to College
The program is designed for students whose COMPASS
required for placement in courses at UTB, indicate them to be “almost
college-ready” in reading, writing and/or math – but needing a little boost.
“We are focusing on helping our students succeed in the
classroom,” said Dr.
, Co-Director of Learning Enrichment. “
a practical standpoint, students pay only $50, as opposed to approximately $800
to spend a full semester taking a non-credit developmental class. The program
also introduces students to college-level expectations in the target areas of college
algebra, composition I and history I.”
Jones said 88 percent of the students who completed
the 2012 Summer Bridge Program satisfied the college-ready standards and took
college level courses in the fall 2012 semester.
Two additions to Summer Bridge this year are online lessons
from Khan Academy
, a non-profit
educational enterprise, and the use of iPads in some of the math classes.
Summer Bridge students Manny Perez and Bernadette Garza like the interactive capabilities of using iPads to work Khan Academy math problems.
“The classes are really helpful, and I especially like using
the iPads to do the Khan Academy lessons in math because it is one-to-one and interactive,”
said Bernadette Garza, a recent graduate of Brownsville’s Porter High School. “It’s
so user-friendly, and really pretty fun and keeps you focused.”
“The trainer at Porter, John Prosek, told me how he liked
his work, and I became interested in it,” Garza said. “Then I tore my ACL
during a volleyball game, and after surgery I had physical therapy, and that’s
when I knew it was the thing for me.”
Manuel Perez of Rancho Viejo, a new graduate of St. Joseph
Academy, is in the math class with Garza.
“I think this is a good way to refresh what we’ve already
had but have forgotten,” Perez said. “The Khan lessons are visual and hands-on
and go step-by-step, and I feel like I am really developing my math skills now.”
When he was in eighth grade, Perez visited with his
neo-natal doctor and learned more about his time spent in an incubator as a
premature baby. That connection has inspired him to work toward becoming a physician
Jones said one of the critical components to the program
that proved invaluable last summer is incorporating peer tutors and peer advisors
into the learning process.
Pamela Acosta, 21, and Luz Cepeda, 23, are the peer tutor
and advisor, respectively, in the reading class being taught by S. Shane Snelson,
an Ed.D. candidate in the College of Education
Acosta just received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from UTB in May, and Cepeda will
graduate at the end of the summer with her Bachelor of Business Administration
in international business. Both have worked in the Learning Enrichment
lab and are familiar with assisting students.
Peer advisors often refer to the standard text given to all
Summer Bridge students: “Connections: An insider’s Guide to College Success” by
Jennifer Latino and Scott and Sheri Moore.
“We are helping the students in many ways,” Cepeda said. “We
have covered several chapters; one on time management and another on learning
styles and ways for students to figure out what works best for them. We have
also covered reading strategies, following up on Mr. Snelson’s instruction.”
One of Snelson’s reading students is Luis Villarreal, 22, a 2009
graduate of Pace High School. Villarreal attended South Texas Vocational
Training Institute and has been working for a pediatrician since December 2010.
“Now I am ready to get my RN, and I want to continue with my
bachelor’s degree in nursing,” Villarreal said. “My only problem is my language
skills, and that is what I’m working on. Only the fourth day, and I feel this
class is going to help me a lot.”
Mariana Gomez, who just graduated from Rivera High School at
the age of 16, will be 17 by the time classes start in August.
“I had all my credits and I was ready to get on with my
life, so I am really excited about being in college,” Gomez said. “I was just a
couple points below the requirement on the Compass test, so I’m taking math in
the mornings and reading in the afternoons. Mr. Snelson is really good and he does
a lot of activities and involves us in the lessons. And he always explains
things so clearly. I can tell this is going to bring up my test scores.”
Dr. Janna Arney
, Associate Provost for
Faculty and Academic Affairs, said the incorporating Kahn Academy and the iPads
in select classes are among several initiatives being implemented in the fall
semester that begins on Monday, August
“Our faculty is ready to innovate and to transform the
classroom experience using technology,” Arney said. “We are excited to launch these
new programs, and we look forward to learning from the students who
participate. We have approximately 20 faculty members who will be participating
this year, and this is just the beginning.”
Summer Bridge runs through Monday, July 10
. For more
information, contact Limor Chavez at 956-832-7380 or firstname.lastname@example.org.