Expect More Tehama Explained

Expect More Tehama – Raising Hope

Education is a natural part of a community’s landscape. We typically count on 180 days of backpacks and homework, field trips, and friendships, year in and year out. But education is more than what happens in school, and each community influences education, and the existing cultural attitude about learning.

In 2009, a small group met for coffee in Red Bluff and wondered why more students weren’t going on to college. They began to ask students, “Why did you go to college?” The answer was almost always, “Because it was expected.” They asked adults, “Why aren’t more students going to college?” The answer was almost always, “Because it just isn’t expected.” An expectation is a hope, and the group saw this as an opportunity to raise hope and see both students and the community benefit. Expect More Tehama was born.

The local movement asks Tehama County to become engaged and excited about education, to value learning and to understand what the future looks like for our students. It aims to ensure that all students leave high school prepared to have options to attend the military, trade and vocational school, community college, apprenticeships, or a university. That preparation includes both solid academics, positive relationships with adults, and becoming familiar and comfortable with the very concept of higher education. It maintains that it is not the sole responsibility of our education system to teach and mentor our students. We all have a role to play.

Rural areas generally have a lower percentage of residents with higher education. One of the most telling indicators of whether or not someone will attend college is simply their zip code. The closer you live to a college or university, the more likely you are to attend. With the loss of a major portion of the forest products industry during the 80’s and 90’s, and with the related disappearance of so many well-paying jobs, the north state has struggled to build a better skilled workforce. Higher education brings benefits to the individual and the community including less poverty, crime and health issues and increased business vitality and innovation. Now, more than ever, we need all students and residents prepared, not just in Tehama County, but the entire region.

Expect More Tehama realized there were many wonderful programs in place, but often without adequate marketing or resources. Many segments of the community were isolated from each other. Here was a great opportunity to convene stakeholders and initiate some meaningful conversation. An annual summit provides that forum. At each gathering, the underlying question continues to be, “What can we do or put in place that will raise expectations and support youth in continuing their education and skills beyond high school?” Each forum includes education, business, government, faith based, service type organizations and more.

“The summits allow us to tap into a powerful collective brain trust,” said Kate Grissom, Director of Marketing at Rolling Hills Casino, an Expect More Leadership member and a parent. “The discussion and ideas fuel the energy and purpose that’s been created.”

Expect More Tehama is made up of passionate volunteers whose main role is to connect, convene and coordinate ideas and resources. When more people know the amazing things going on, it fuels increased involvement, support and excitement.

One goal has always been to make the map to college simple and clear for students and parents. Expect More Tehama was able to combine local resources to bring a single CollegeOPTIONS advisor to Tehama County. CollegeOPTIONS, based in Shasta County, helps students and parents figure out their individual plan for college. Are students taking the right classes? Exploring options? Visiting campuses? Signing up for scholarships and making deadlines? Today they have a director and staff in Tehama County and provide support at middle and high schools.

“We first brought CollegeOPTIONS to Tehama County to show eighth graders how choosing the right classes in high school provides them options after graduation,” said Grissom, “Today, they support the high school counsellors, arrange trips and events and help make sense of getting to college, whether it’s the financial ins and outs or the academics.”

Today, many schools have also adopted a No Excuses University model that builds a college culture at school. Mrs. Pooler’s fourth grade class at Lassen View School proudly hangs their Chico State Flag outside their classroom every day, and on Friday’s the students wear their Chico State shirts. Whether or not they all choose to go to college, the students will at least understand the concept and possibly see themselves as a future college student. Every class at the school has adopted a college, including the front office (UCLA) and the Bus Building (UC Davis).

Over time, efforts have also focused on younger students. Expect More Tehama launched Tehama Reads, a school readiness and literacy initiative to champion reading proficiency as a community and moral responsibility. This initiative was in response to the release of a report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation that linked third grade reading proficiency with the probability of future drop-out rates, incarceration and poverty. The effort has included community bookshelves that encourage children to take books home; summer book mobiles delivering books to outlying areas; a connection with the libraries and education that provides a summer reading and incentive program and free book giveaways at Enjoy Movies in the Park and Red Bluff Farmer’s Market.

Technology is also a priority, and Expect More offered 11 mini-grants to teachers who attended a series of technology workshops this year. To be considered for the grants, teachers had to explain the technology they were requesting, how they planned to use it, and how they would share that knowledge with other teachers. Jon Jones, a teacher at Red Bluff High School, received an iPad to allow him to use Educreations, a content creation and delivery tool.

”In addition to giving me access to a new technology platform to create content, the grant allowed me to explore the exploding area of “app” based student content,” said Jones. “And I use technology in a greater way to monitor student progress and perform common classroom management tasks.”

Whether it’s career exploration, developing leadership skills, applying new technology, promoting literacy or reminding residents that they have talents to share with youth, Expect More Tehama celebrates and champions hope in Tehama County. Understanding and fostering the value of learning, education and engagement is at the heart of that hope.


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