June 24, 2011
WOOSTER, Ohio — Ralph Ellison, author of the acclaimed novel Invisible Man, once said, “Education is all a matter of building bridges.” It is these bridges that Marion G. Resch hoped would help students connect to the world of higher education when she established the foundation that supports the Youngstown Early Intervention Program.
The College of Wooster and several other Ohio schools participate in the program, which brings students from Youngstown's area high schools — with a focus on Chaney High School — to campus for two weeks of instruction and assimilation each summer. “Wooster has some of the earliest ties with Resch and her gift,” said the foundation’s executive director, Brian Wolf.
While still in middle school, teachers nominate students for the program. Cathy Finks, senior associate director of admissions at Wooster; Hayden Schilling, the Robert Critchfield Professor of English and History at Wooster; and Carol Marino, Wooster’s Youngstown coordinator, then interview the students to determine if they are suited to the program. Approximately 25 students are selected.
For the next four years, these students participate in tutoring and summer intervention programs that will encourage them and prepare them for college life. “Youngstown, Ohio, has a relatively low rate (of students who attend college), and the hope was that an early intervention program such as this would make a difference in the lives of participants,” said Schilling. “The goal is to select students who have the potential to go to college, but who need additional work during the summers to enhance their chances.”
During the summer session, students spend two weeks on Wooster’s campus, attending college-prep classes, visiting other colleges to get a feel for other options available to them, and working with admissions counselors to learn how to approach a college interview. They spend 90 minutes in a writing class and an additional 90 minutes in a math class each day. The also take two one-hour enrichment courses covering such disciplines as sociology, political science, theatre, and chemistry.
“I’ve got a better outlook on how you should approach school,” said Chris Gunther, a junior at Ursuline High School who was nominated by his eighth-grade science teacher three years ago. Gunther hopes to go on to college to study sports journalism and play basketball. He says the greatest impact the program has had on him is the realization that you have to make “the best out of the opportunities given to you.”
Resch’s bridges continue to provide access to higher education for students who might never have considered the option had it not been for the program. In an area of the state where only about 50 percent of students graduate from high school, the program boasts a 100-percent graduation rate among its participants.
- Story by Libby Fackler '13
1189 Beall Avenue, Wooster, Ohio 44691. (330) 263-2000
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