GRAD Partnership CA Rural Spotlight: TRIO at Anderson and West Valley High Schools

RSC along with GRAD Partnership Intermediaries from North State Together (NST), had the opportunity to meet members of the TRIO leadership team working to build student success at Anderson Union School District.

May 8, 2024 |

Pictured from left to right: Dave Dallas - Eastern Oregon University, Sue Huizinga - TRIO Director, Susan Schroth - North State Together, Clarisa Guzman - TRIO Assistant Director, Henry Whitehead - RSC, Taylor McCabe-Juhnke - RSC. As part of the national GRAD Partnership for Student Success, Rural Schools Collaborative is pleased to highlight 20 schools who are implementing student success systems as part of a rural and small school cohort project. This feature comes from two high schools in the Shasta College TRIO program, and is supported by RSC’s Northern California Regional Hub partners at North State Together. Read more about the project here.

This spring, the Rural Schools Collaborative Team, along with GRAD Partnership Intermediaries from North State Together (NST), had the opportunity to meet members of the TRIO leadership team working to build student success and connectedness at Anderson Union School District. The TRIO program is partnering with Anderson Union High School in Anderson, CA (population: 11,000) and West Valley Early College High School in Cottonwood, CA (population: 6,000) to launch Student Success Systems.

So, what are Student Success Systems? This framework is a way of organizing a school community to better support the academic progress, college and career transitions, and well-being of all students. By focusing on relationships, actionable data, and evidence-based practices, student success systems help educators and communities build a sense of belonging and school connection among students, address school-wide achievement patterns, and meet individual student needs. Learn more about the research and efforts of the GRAD Partnership for Student Success here.

Clarisa Guzman (left) and Sue Huizinga (right) with Trevin Saelee (middle), a TRIO student.

The Shasta College TRIO GRAD Partnership efforts are led by Clarisa Guzman, Assistant Director, and Sue Huizinga, TRIO Director. TRIO is a national program that provides educational opportunity outreach programs and works to engage and support first generation and low income students to be successful in middle school and high school and gain access to college and career achievement.

Data Driven

During their first year participating in the GRAD Partnership for Student Success Systems, the team focused on assessing the existing data to determine what factors were primarily impacting student success. Their original hunch was this work may be most effective if it was focused on chronic absenteeism, but the data told a different story. The data showed that attendance was relatively strong, but that course performance was challenging, particularly for 9th and 10th graders (a research-based key transition for long term student success).. This was an “ah-ha” moment for the TRIO team, as their efforts were more previously focused on college-readiness.

School Connectedness

TRIO office space.

To build school connectedness and program affinity, the TRIO team purchased TRIO Shasta College backpacks and hoodies for all students in their programs; much like student-athletes wear their team-branded gear around campus, the staff wanted to instill the same pride for college preparedness. This immediately increased belonging and recognition of the program, in addition to spreading awareness that there were additional supports available for students.

“It is just knowing that they're getting some more opportunities. They're getting it. We're talking to them more, we're seeing more and more recognition that you are actually in TRIO”

Building Relationships

Clarisa Guzman, Assistant Director at TRIO.

On the school campus, Clarisa, who is a TRIO alum herself and one of the few Spanish-speaking adults, works diligently to offer services for students. During a study hall period, she meets with students to go over grades, make sure they are on track for post-graduation plans, and coach them through any difficulties they may be facing in school. She describes that she “just wants to provide that safe space for them. I always tell them, ‘talk to your teacher, they're not going to know what you're dealing with if you don't talk to them. . . You’ve got to be your own advocate. Go and advocate for yourself to talk to the teacher about your grades, and ask them what you can do.’”

Post-Secondary Success & Community Resources

Outside of school, the TRIO team actively demystifies college by bringing students to regional campuses, building excitement for their future. They have traveled to the Bay Area, Sacramento, and Oregon to see campuses and hear from college students and graduates. The Oregon trip was highlighted by a stop at Nike, where students were motivated to pursue degrees and careers. Sue recalls that “We got to go and have this whole tour of the Nike campus in Portland and have lunch in the Serena [Williams] lunch room; the gentleman that took us around was so nice and so incredible. And then he brought together a panel at Nike and they had a Latino leaders group of people who work at Nike” to speak to the TRIO students.

Shasta College also hosts a fun career fair for students. Sue shares that “it's just a wide variety of programs from the college student organizations and community partners,” a place where kids can have fun while exploring careers, at a college campus. 80% of students in the program end up attending Shasta College, so building that relationship early helps get buy in before the rigors and pressure of high school. TRIO also piloted a family engagement program, which featured an evening workshop at a local pizza restaurant that welcomed families to share more about the program.

Student Voice

Trevin Saelee, now a senior and member of the TRIO program at Anderson Union HS, first learned about TRIO from his older sister, and he has since brought his younger sister into it as well. TRIO has been a backdrop of his high school experience, particularly in offering guidance and support:

“TRIO is a great program. I love TRIO. I've been in since middle school. . . It's just a great guidance tool for you. Most kids in high school are lost and don't know what the next step is, and [Clarisa] is there to help you with that.”

While this first pilot of Student Success Systems in the district has gone well, the TRIO team continues to discuss how to refine and improve their approach. Sue and Clarisa continue to look at how to engage 9th and 10th grade students more deeply, as well as ways to grow community partnerships. At Anderson, students already recognize that they have a partner in their own success: “Recently, we had a trip to UC Davis, which we did community service for - that was a fun trip. They just do a lot of great things for you and help you a lot during high school. I feel like most kids who aren’t in TRIO don't get that help.” Now near graduation, Trevin just learned he’s been accepted to UC Davis next year, where he hopes to study veterinary medicine.

Special thanks to Clarisa and Sue of the Shasta College TRIO program for hosting our visit, and for Anderson Union High School and West Valley Early College High School for participating in the GRAD Partnership for Student Success. The far Northern California regional cohort is led by Susan Scroth at North State Together, in partnership with Shasta College. Learn more about the GRAD Partnership here.

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