YONKERS, N.Y. – Yonkers middle schoolers are using GPS to find their road to success.
College-minded students at seven city schools are using Yonkers Partners in Education’s “Getting Prepared for Success,” or GPS, a web-based program designed to prepare seventh and eighth-graders for success in high school and college.
On Wednesday, YPIE executives and school administrators announced the pilot program would continue for at least three more years thanks to a $300,000 commitment from New York Life Foundation.
“You have a lot of potential,” David Westin, chairperson of the YPIE Board of Directors, told a small group of Palisades Preparatory students during the announcement. “We believe in you. We expect a lot of you. But we also want to be there to help you realize all the potential you have.”
First launched in 2011, GPS provides students with an interactive, web-based program designed to prepare them for success in high school and give them the ability to begin planning college and career choices.
Teachers said the year-long course has inspired students to start having discussions about resumes or portfolios and to begin thinking about things like community service and involvement in after school clubs. Students also take surveys online and learn about themselves - whether it’s their learning style or what career paths they want to pursue.
“The pre/post surveys demonstrate a significant increase in awareness about college and career choices and a desire to improve academic performance to increase options after high school graduation,” YPIE Executive Director Wendy Nadel said.
This year, more than 900 middle school students throughout Yonkers Public Schools participated in the program. Palisades Preparatory School Principal Michelle Yazurlo said she has seen the program build confidence in her students and help to inspire them, giving them the motivation and support they need.
Natalie DeLosSantos, an eighth-grader at Palisades, said after taking the program she has set her sights on becoming a forensic scientist.
“It has motivated me to work harder and get better grades so I can achieve this goal,” she said.
Her classmate, Briana Alrabadi, said that by using the program she learned of the many scholarship opportunities that are available that may help her go to college.
“It makes you aware that everyone can go to college,” she said. “It doesn’t matter your social class.”
Additional funding from New York Life’s commitment will support the College & Career Center at Gorton High School, a program designed to help students graduate and complete a post-secondary education.
“I’m thrilled to support this,” Maria Collins of the New York Life Foundation told the students. “It’s a great investment, not only in you, but your future.”