JPS Approves JCC Liaison To Aid Students

A local college liaison will look to pique Jamestown High School students’ interest in the next level of learning.

The Jamestown Public Schools Board of Education approved a career development liaison agreement with Jamestown Community College at Tuesday’s regular meeting. JCC officials and board of trustees previously discussed such a role in the high school at a Sept. 17 meeting.

The liaison, available to all students, will have a focus on connecting the local Hispanic population to a college pathway.

“So, this is the first of what’s sure to be many more of these agreements with JCC,” said Dr. Bret Apthorpe, JPS superintendent.

Apthorpe explained that the liaison role stemmed from an outreach effort that JCC managed in the 2017-18 school year. Then, Apthorpe said many of the Hispanic students, who make up 30% of JPS’ population, were not aware of the local community college.

“We have an agreement with JCC where we have a staff member who works with kids of any ethnicity and helps them with understanding how to go to college – any college. … This is all part of a bigger plan to increase the number of students who go to college.”

The agreement between the community college and the school district created the full-time position of a Spanish speaking career development liaison. Corresponding office space will be available at both JCC and JHS.

The liaison will assist with recruiting and retaining students in College Connections courses, JCC’s Manufacturing Technology Institute programs and providing guidance for students interested in college. The liaison will collaborate with the JCC Liberty Partnership navigator, who is already employed. The designated space at JHS is located in the library and can be used for JCC admissions, counseling, financial aid and other areas.

The contract was approved for three years. The liaison will work one day of the week out of the JCC space where the employee will learn about programs and services offered by the college.

JCC agreed to provide 20% of funding for the position with 5% increases each year the liaison is employed.

Prior to JPS’ approval, Dr. Daniel DeMarte, JCC president, described the collaboration as a way to “building a better connection with the Latino students in the high school and their families.”

Additionally, Apthorpe updated the board on a recent nationwide summit of school superintendents he attended. There, the Jamestown superintendent said an emphasis is being placed on getting students on an intentional, educational path during their time in the public school system.

“Clearly, the trend across the country is having kids on clear pathways into college or providing them with skills and doing so in tangible ways not requiring so many exit exams,” Apthorpe said. “So, this really dove tails nicely into the work and goals of the board of education going out and looking at our secondary programming and making it more contemporary.”

In other news, Apthorpe said attendance at all school buildings within the district has improved from last year. JPS currently consists of nine schools with the opening of the Success Academy at the beginning of the 2019-20 school year.

“Last year, there was a big push to improve from the year before,” he said. “So, cross our fingers. We’re off to a good start.”

Apthorpe praised the efforts of school principals and the parents of students for their roles in the improved attendance numbers early in the school year.