For Ottumwa Teacher, Building College Culture Offers Chances Students Might Miss

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Teachers around the country are being recognized this week for the important work they do to help students succeed in their education and futures. The teachers who partner with GEAR UP Iowa earn constant appreciation for helping build a college-going culture at schools in 12 Iowa districts.

Victoria Swanstrom serves as GEAR UP Iowa Coach for the Ottumwa School District and will be following the district’s GEAR UP Iowa students from middle school to high school this fall. In today’s Teacher Appreciation Week spotlight, she reflects on how teaming with GEAR UP Iowa inspires her in her work with students and the impact that college education can have on a student’s future.


This was my first year as the GEAR UP Iowa Coach for the Ottumwa School District and it has been so memorable and meaningful. Being the GEAR UP Iowa coach has given me the opportunity to educate students about all of the opportunities they have available to them after high school. Thinking back about my decision when deciding where to attend college, I was very uneducated about the whole process, but I did okay because my parents and family were encouraging and helping me all along the way.  A lot of the kids that I am fortunate to get to work with do not have parents or family members with experience about the college going process. Being a part of GEAR UP Iowa and my students’ lives has given me the opportunity to make them aware of the different steps necessary to attend a post-secondary institution. My goal has been to provide exposure and opportunities for students to find a college, career or post-secondary option that they are passionate about exploring. Because of GEAR UP Iowa, students have been give numerous learning opportunities to brighten their outlook on their lives. I enjoy being part of this awesome program and getting to know these great individuals I get to call my students.


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