Program gives kids jump-start at Joliet Township High School
By Tony Graf email@example.com July 15, 2012 5:22PM
Teacher Jamilla Snapp (at right) addresses students during the Exxon Mobil and Midwest Generation Joliet Township High School 2012 Powering Education Summer Bridge Program at Joliet West High School Monday, July 9, 2012, in Joliet. The program provides reading and math training for incoming freshmen. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
Joliet Township High School has begun its 2012 Powering Education Summer Bridge Program. At Joliet West, the program runs through Aug. 2, said Carol Collins, director of small learning communities for the school district.
Students attend from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
Students prepare for life as freshmen at JT, work to increase reading and math scores and complete a summer reading assignment. They participate in informational sessions to keep them on track toward graduation.
And finally, if they do not miss more than one session, they will receive one-half of an elective credit toward graduation even before their freshman year begins.
Updated: August 17, 2012 6:05AM
JOLIET — Drive over the Jefferson Street bridge eastward into downtown, and you will see the limestone palace in the distance.
Once you ascend to the top of the bridge, the view of Joliet Township High School is front and center: historic, dignified, a place of opportunity.
However, you have to make that journey on the bridge to see it.
Many eighth-grade graduates are doing that right now.
The high school is kicking off the 2012 Powering Education Summer Bridge Program. The “Bridge” is a four-week reading program and math program for incoming freshmen who scored two to three points below grade level on their eighth-grade state assessment.
Students also receive college and career readiness strategies for success in high school.
Cheryl McCarthy, high school superintendent, met with students recently. She discussed the “Bridge” — that crucial link between grade school and high school.
“You’re getting from one place to another. You’re making a crossing,” McCarthy said.
English and math
Over several weeks, these 100
students are learning to make the
transition into College Prep English 1
and Algebra 1 courses during their
They also are learning those “geography” lessons that so many freshmen have trouble mastering.
“You have the advantage to come here and check out the lay of the land, look around, get to know where the classrooms are,” McCarthy said.
These students are coming from smaller buildings in the Joliet and Troy grade school districts. Soon, they will navigate two large and complex campuses: Central on Jefferson Street, West on Larkin Avenue.
One recent morning, McCarthy met with 50 students at West, while 50 other students began the Bridge program at Central.
The program starts at 9 a.m. For the next few weeks, these students must wake up for classwork while many of their classmates are sleeping in on summer break.
“You’re going to do a little work,” McCarthy said. “Although I think you’re going to find that your instructors are going to make that a lot of fun.”
McCarthy said students should thank the parents who encouraged them to show up during the summer, apply themselves and get ahead.
Midwest Generation and ExxonMobil have provided financial support for the program. The two companies have committed to supporting Summer Bridge for the next three years.
“We are so fortunate as a school district that we have businesses in Joliet that care so much about our kids that they’re willing to donate money in order to make programs happen,” McCarthy said.
“Midwest Generation Joliet Station is proud to support the ‘Bridge’ program at Joliet Township High School this summer to prepare our youth for success in their secondary education and future careers,” said Scott Perry, station director.
ExxonMobil operates a refinery in Channahon, at Interstate 55 and Arsenal Road. Tricia L. Simpson, Midwest public affairs manager for the company, addressed students at Joliet West.
“Supporting education in our community is a high priority, not only for my company but for many companies,” Simpson said. “We are looking to you, at some point, to join us when you finish school.”
“We support the Bridge program because we want you to have every opportunity and every advantage to reach your goals and achieve what you want to do in your life,” she said.
ExxonMobil employs around 1,000 employees and contractors at the Channahon refinery. Simpson discussed the qualifications for employment at the facility.
“Minimally, you must have a high school education,” Simpson told students.
The company does not hire applicants straight from high school.
Some employees have shifted over to ExxonMobil after gaining experience in a variety of trades.
“Our hiring process begins with a pre-employment test that we administer once a year, usually in the summer,” she said. “You must demonstrate an aptitude in math and science and general learning that indicates you have the ability to learn what we do there and how to do it safely. It requires intelligence, good judgment and personal responsibility.”
At least 1,000 people take the test each year.
“It’s a very high standard, a very high bar. But it’s a great job,” Simpson said.
McCarthy used this to drive home a point: Use opportunities like Summer Bridge to gain an advantage — in high school and on bridges far beyond.