PARKERSBURG - Wood County commissioners agreed to contribute $4,297 to Ohio Valley University to equip a classroom for programs that help teens, including some at-risk students, acquire the skills and knowledge to prepare for college and a career.
Jim Bullock, Ohio Valley University vice president for academic affairs, and Kalema Muller, OVU dean of students, along with Wood County Juvenile Drug Court officials met with the commission Thursday.
"We had a meeting about 1 1/2 years ago with the probation and juvenile drug court officials. Judge (Darren) Tallman said he felt there were educational opportunities to help students in the drug court program, kids who were at-risk for various problems. Out of that meeting, came several initiatives that were developed to provide help," Bullock said. "Some in that population don't even consider going to college."
Photo by Pamela Brust
Kalema Muller and Jim Bullock with Ohio Valley University met with Wood County commissioners Thursday seeking funds to help equip a classroom for programs that encourage kids to plan for the future and prepare older students for college.
Bullock said the classes offered through the college are open to the general population, providing skills, practice for the ACT tests and expose them to campus life.
Michael Rittenhouse is a freshman at OVU. He took advantage of the preparatory course as well as a second phase, a summer academic leveling boot camp that is for students who need a little more help to get ready for college.
"Michael was able to raise his score up five points on the ACT test after going through the programs," Bullock said. "He is motivated and is now enrolled as a freshman."
"I was worried. I was nervous about where I would be placed looking at the tests. The instructors were very patient with me and worked with me. I'm not that good with math, but after boot camp and the teachers helping me I was able to learn what I needed. I enjoyed it. They know what they are doing," Rittenhouse said.
Muller noted the summer boot camp is more intense.
"It introduces the students to the rigors of college they can expect so we can assess their motivation and look at the factors for success. We offer specialists in English, reading, science, math, all the aspects of the test to help them, and we practice to improve their test skills," Muller said.
The College Matters class is offered in the fall.
Muller said the school would like to use a classroom near the tutoring center, but it needs additional equipment and technology, including Smart Boards, video equipment, laptop, projector and other interactive equipment.
Bob Buchanan, a board member with the Wood County Juvenile Drug Court, said the program proves to be a benefit to some identified at-risk kids in the drug court program.
"Nothing is more important than education," he said.
Judy Stephens, a probation officer who works with drug court defendants, said some of the students in the program include one who is a high school dropout and another who could be a dropout.
"These are kids who hadn't considered this, now they are getting motivated, considering college and making plans about what they want to do with their lives," Stephens said.
"It helps them center on not just a job, but a career and that's a key component," Buchanan said. "It helps the kids see their potential, their ability."
Muller said a study skills class for college credit is also available.
"We stress anyone can be successful and can grow. I think this experience changes these students," Muller said.
The commissioners last year provided some funding for scholarships for the program.