SUMNER — Three school administrators Monday gave updates on the GEAR UP programs to Regional School Unit 10 directors Monday.

GEAR UP, or Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, is a grant program of the U.S. Department of Education.

“GEAR UP is (needed) to provide aspirations for kids to be able to attend post-secondary educations,” Mountain Valley High School GEAR UP coordinator and teacher Chris Carver said. The program is in the fourth of seven years and the program’s educator teams have set goals such as an advisory program for students, Carver said.

“A collection of advisers at each grade level will follow the students from ninth grade all the way through 12th grade,” he said. The advisers work with the students to help them prepare for a post-high school education.

“We feel that a lot of our students, especially the economically disadvantaged students, just don’t get access to a college campus. Just going there and experiencing what it’s like, even if it’s just eating in a cafeteria, is more than they would otherwise get,” Carver said.

Assistant principal and teacher at Mountain Valley Middle School, Cheryl Gurney,  said GEAR UP involves “talking more about what kind of colleges are out there and what may be your interests toward colleges.” 


“This year our kids are going to visit Central Maine Community College and to to the University of Southern Maine,” Gurney said.

Buckfield Junior Senior High School Principal George Reuter told the board GEAR UP activities have included Joe Picard, an inspirational speaker and comedian with cerebral palsy, speak about life’s challenges.

“The transition after high school is what’s important,” Reuter said. “It isn’t that somebody goes on to college in the traditional four-year sense. It’s going on to something else, (maybe) a certificate program that they go into so that they have some purpose. We want to make sure that students think about their plans after high school.”

In other news, Jeff Sterling of Rumford was appointed to the board to succeed Jeremy Volkernick of Rumford. Volkernick resigned in January and has been hired as a bus driver and custodian for the district. Sterling will finish the term in June when there will be an election.

Sterling’s daughter, Lauren Sterling, is also on the school board as a Mountain Valley High School student representative.

Larry Thornton was appointed high school varsity girls’ soccer coach at Buckfield and and Scot New was appointed varsity baseball coach at Mountain Valley Middle School.

Al Cayer, Mountain Valley High School athletic director and assistant principal Al Cayer submitted his letter of retirement for the end of December. He has been employed in the district, either in SAD 43 or RSU 10 for 38 years, Superintendent Deborah Alden said.

Buckfield Junior-Senior High School Principal George Reuter, left, Mountain Valley High School GEAR UP coordinator/teacher Chris Carver and Mountain Valley Middle School Assistant Principal and teacher Cheryl Gurney spoke to Regional School Unit 10 directors about GEAR UP programs at their schools Monday night. (Marianne Hutchinson/Rumford Falls Times)

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