Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness in Superior (GEARS)

Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness in Superior (GEARS) is a unique pre-college program that is administered, funded, and staffed in partnership with the Superior School District. Beginning in 6th grade, teacher-identified Superior Middle School students enroll in GEARS to increase their academic abilities and the number of developmental assets they encompass to actualize their current and future potential.

Four Primary Goals of GEARS

  • Increase the number of at-risk students who are well-prepared to succeed as they advance from Superior Middle School to Superior High School
  • Increase the retention and degree attainment among UW-Superior low income, first generation, and underrepresented students through the opportunity to engage in Academic Service-Learning and ongoing mentoring
  • Build a sustainable, replicable community program
  • Increase the percentage of students that graduate from Superior High School and are well-prepared to succeed in a postsecondary educational setting

Three Program Components

Academic Tutoring

One primary component of GEARS is academic tutoring. Superior Middle School students are selected to participate in the program based foremost on their struggles in school, demonstrated by having at least one core academic grade at the failing mark. 

UW-Superior college mentors enter the Superior Middle School twice a week to directly provide tutoring support to GEARS students in a small classroom setting.  Core subject areas include language arts, math, science, and social studies.

Local Weekend Events

The GEARS program participates in monthly events on UW-Superior’s campus and in the community to expose youth to exciting opportunities in college. These mentoring activities create deeper bonds between mentors and students while strengthening the group as a whole.

Past activities include:

  • UWS Men’s Hockey game
  • UWS Theater performance
  • Superior Public Library
  • Marcovich Wellness Center Open Gym day
  • Superior Challenge Ropes Course
  • UWS Jazz Concert
  • Marcovich Wellness Center family activity
  • Cultural Night at UWS
  • Holiday Exhibit Tour of Kruk Gallery
  • UWS Theater Performance
  • Athlete Training Day
  • World of Wheels Skate Center
  • Boxes and Walls
  • Halloween Spook-tacular
  • Cultural Night at UW-Superior
  • UWS Men’s Hockey Game
  • UWS Men’s Basketball Game
  • Mentor Movie Day
  • Tony G. 3-on-3 Tournament

Summer Program

The 4-week GEARS summer program is a hands-on, holistically focused learning journey held at Superior Middle School. Social skills, artistic expression, physical health and mental strength are emphasized and integrated into daily interactive lessons, which are fully facilitated by GEARS mentors. Each Friday is a field trip day, and past destinations include The Edge Waterpark, North Shore Scenic Railroad, Science Museum of Minnesota, Como Zoo, Mall of America and Valleyfair.

The GEARS summer program has had an attendance rate of over 90% while providing valuable leadership and teambuilding experiences for all involved.

GEARS Mentors FAQs

What does a GEARS mentor do?

GEARS mentors are hired to be positive role models to local youth struggling to succeed in school. Job duties include academic tutoring as well as cultural/recreational mentoring activities one weekend per month.

Do I need to have a car to be a GEARS mentor?

Many GEARS mentors carpool to tutoring in the community.

How does the GEARS course relate to my service?

Enrolling in SOCI 270: Understanding and Appreciating Youth At Risk will enhance your mentoring experience by improving group communication, reinforcing new concepts, and providing a base for understanding your role as a college student, active community member, and global citizen.

How many hours are typically involved in being a GEARS mentor?

A typical week includes 4-6 hours of tutoring. Weekend mentoring activities occur monthly, lasting 4-6 hours each.

How much do GEARS mentors get paid?

GEARS mentors earn a stipend of up to $500 per semester.