COTTONWOOD -- During a 2012 presentation on the Gear Up program for the Verde Valley Leadership program, Gretchen Wesbrock was asked what she would do when the grant funding for her position expired in six years.
She simply said she was optimistic about her future as an educator.
She had good reason for such optimism.
Tuesday, the Mingus Union School Board voted unanimously to continue Wesbrock’s employment with the district as its new director of student support services.
“We would be foolish not to secure Gretchen with our district,” said veteran Mingus Board Member Jim Ledbetter.
Board Member Lori Drake echoed those sentiments, saying she has had one child go through the local school system without the Gear Up college and career readiness counseling program, and another who has been counseled by Grechen under the Gear Up banner. “The difference is night and day,” Drake said.
The position for which Wesbrock was hired Tuesday will be part of Dr. Penny Hargrove’s new administrative structure at Mingus. The job will have Wesbrock help develop programs “focused upon student engagement and achievement. This position will also work with the faculty to develop a master teaching schedule, based upon student request that is aligned to the Arizona College Readiness Standards and incorporates Advanced Placement as well as intervention opportunities depending on the student’s ability and previous academic success,” according to a position description provide to board members Tuesday.
“She has additional duties,” Dr. Hargrove. “These duties include avid counseling, assessment coordination, and evaluations.”
Dr. Hargrove said that much like her prior position as the district’s Gear Up coordinator, Wesbrock’s salary will be paid primarily through grant funding and the district’s maintenance and operations budget.
For Wesbrock, her tenure as Gear Up coordinator has given her unique insight into the operations of both the Cottonwood-Oak Creek and Mingus Union districts.
She began her Gear Up duties in 2012 with about 175 seventh graders from Cottonwood-Oak Creek’s Mountain View Prep, Oak Creek and Cottonwood Middle schools. She spent two years with those students with Cottonwood-Oak Creek and followed their educational journey when they began their freshmen year at Mingus.
Today, there are 270 students in the program, for which Wesbrock has provided college and career readiness counseling since they were middle school students.
The funding for the Gear Up program was originally secured through a grant obtained by former Mingus Principal Jennifer Chilton. It is one of only 10 such programs available to students in Arizona.