Dr. TJ Owens Gilroy Early College Academy, (Gilroy, CA). The Dr. TJ Owens Gilroy Early College Academy (GECA), a school of choice, is located on the Gavilan College campus. In partnership with Gavilan, all students must complete 40 units of transferable college coursework in four years, while simultaneously fulfilling high school graduation requirements. Students fulfill their Career and Technical Education requirements through college coursework – primarily in Computer Science, Administration of Justice, and Child Development.
A vital element of GECA’s success for students are the academy’s AcaPrep courses. Because students select their Associates degree pathways while in high school, career exploration is a critical component of the AcaPrep curriculum. Through AcaPrep, students research colleges majors and careers affiliated with those majors, based on their interests.
Designed as a four-year scope and sequence curriculum, the AcaPrep courses: (1) provide targeted tutorial support; (2) introduce and practice researched-based strategies, including organizational and study skills, proven successful for college-bound students; and (3) check-in socially and emotionally with students to maintain a positive school culture. Students also develop skills and knowledge under the Ownership of Learning: goal setting, persistence, self-awareness, progress monitoring, and self-efficacy.
All levels of AcaPrep revisit critical success skills, such as time management, test taking skills, note taking skills, strategic reading, collaborative learning, technology proficiency, financial literacy, and digital citizenship/literacy. Additionally, the curriculum focuses on stress management through mindfulness, cultural awareness through community circles, and school-wide initiatives on respect, kindness, and anti-bullying.
The AcaPrep’s curriculum is revisited annually by staff and then monthly during collaboration meetings. Monthly AcaPrep collaboration meetings give staff opportunities to check in with the Student Government teacher, coordinate peer tutoring efforts, and review lessons to be implemented. Staff discuss supports for struggling students and strategize implementation of schoolwide initiatives.