The district-wide program Pursuing Our Dreams through Education and Responsibility (PODER) seeks to assist first-generation college-bound students in fostering a commitment to education and academic purpose.
The PODER program on campus is divided into specialized classes for freshmen, sophomores, and juniors, with each grade level taught by a different teacher.
“Eighth grade students are recruited and interviewed in the spring of their eighth grade year for the PODER program,” Director of Accountability and Assessment David Reynolds said. “The PODER program is monitored by three PODER coordinators with the additional support of PODER counselors.”
The program, created in 2016, provides students and parents an opportunity to understand A through G eligibility, different types of colleges and majors, and financial aid. As a college readiness class, PODER helps students prepare for SAT and ACT tests and also offers college field trips, guest speakers, and tutoring.
“The anticipation is that ninth grade PODER students will take [it] through their senior year with added assistance of attending a 4-year university,” Reynolds said. “My hope would be that every graduating PODER senior be accepted to and graduate from [one].”
In addition to college preparation aid, PODER also helps students develop skills such as critical thinking, organization, and problem solving.
“It has helped me a lot with time management,” junior Rashell Zamarripa said. “We also research a lot about colleges and we try to figure out ourselves—our individual selves—what kind of person we are and [our work habits].”
Counselors, coordinators, and PODER teachers have been working together to organize and improve the program.
“As a group, we constantly reflect on our next steps,” Reynolds said. “The PODER staff are very committed to student success and have developed a terrific curriculum which will prepare students well for a 4-year university.”
For more information, consult the site coordinator, Virginia Parra, in room P109.