Funding extended for Talent Search

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Crowder College program that benefits students who attend the Southwest R-5 and Wheaton R-3 school districts will be funded for another five years.

The United States Department of Education has decided to extend funding for the Talent Search program, which provides academic, career and financial aid advisement services to around 600 southwest Missouri sixth through 12th grade students.

"We are pleased to be able to continue serving great kids in our five school districts and the families in our community," said Andrea Marrs, Crowder College Talent Search director. Other districts served by the program are Seneca, McDonald County and Neosho.

Talent Search is designed to increase high school graduation and college completion rates. The program offers in-school and weekend workshops on education and career opportunities, study skills and test preparation training, critical thinking and decision-making education, exposure to college campuses, one-on-one academic planning and advisement, assistance with financial aid and scholarship sources and summer academies.

"What sold me on the Talent Search program was that it gets kids college and career ready," said Wheaton Superintendent Lance Massey, who previously served as Wheaton High School principal.

The Talent Search program has given seventh through 12th grade students at Wheaton the opportunity to visit college campuses and take part in other field trips outside of school hours, said Massey.

The program also offered an ACT waiver, which eliminated ACT exam fees for qualifying students.

"A good percentage of our students are involved in the program," said Massey. "Professionals from Crowder College come to our campus once a month and spend around a half a day meeting with our students and answering questions.

"I feel any of our kids who get involved in the program get a jump start on preparing for college," said Massey.

Tosha Watson, who will begin serving as the Southwest High School principal this year, experienced success with the program when she was serving as the high school principal at Seneca.

"This program is awesome for kids," said Watson. "It is specially designed for students who are underprivileged or first generation college attenders.

"It gets kids to start thinking about jobs that they are interested in so that they can align their thinking about high school graduation, college and even completing college with their goals," said Watson. "This is another avenue that really helps the public school system get kids involved in school."

At Seneca High School, Watson saw students return from summer breaks with stories about the field trips and activities they participated in through the Talent Search program.

"It motivated them to be more solid students during the school year," said Watson. "I also had several first generation college attenders come back and talk to me about how exciting it was to graduate from college. I attribute a lot of that to programs like Talent Search. It is an awesome program for our area."

In addition to the Talent Search program, Crowder College offers eight TRIO programs that serve income eligible, first-generation college students and students with disabilities by motivating and supporting them as they move from high school graduation to a college degree.

Crowder College's other TRIO programs include: the educational opportunity center, student support services, Upward Bound and Upward Bound math and science.

For more information on Crowder's TRIO programs, call 417-455-5584 or visit

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