New GEAR UP Advisor Joins Project


July 16, 2015 – Students at several SSC GEAR UP schools will be meeting their new GEAR UP advisor this fall when initial classroom visits kick off the start of the academic year.

Tessa Russell Staff Pic

Tessa Russell joined the GEAR UP staff in July as the new advisor for students at Butner, Holdenville, Sasakwa and Wetumka High Schools. Most recently, she has worked as both a member of the teaching staff and as the School Improvement Grant Director at Butner Schools where she also served as the GEAR UP Lead Teacher.

According to Russell, her work with the project at Butner made her a believer in GEAR UP and was a factor in her decision to apply for the open position with the grant.

A 1995 graduate of West Texas A&M University, Russell has worked in education for almost 20 years. In addition to her work at Butner, she was a public school teacher in Okemah and Amarillo, Texas. In addition to her bachelor’s degree from West Texas A&M, she holds a master’s degree in education from East Central University.

The SSC GEAR UP Advisors coordinate the activities for the GEAR UP students at each of their assigned schools and serve as the project’s primary contact with parents, families and educators working together to help the students succeed. Together, the entire project staff plan and implement strategies to help ensure students are aware of their opportunities to continue their education beyond high school and prepare them for the transition to post-secondary education.

Russell joins Jennifer Rudolph and Deena Murray maintaining that primary contact with the students. Rudolph, a GEAR UP advisor since the project was funded in 2012, plans activities and works with students at Asher, Earlsboro, Maud, Prague and Seminole High Schools. Murray works with students at Bowlegs, Davenport, Konawa, Paden, Strother and Varnum.

Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs is a federally-funded grant project through the United States Department of Education. The Seminole State College GEAR UP offices are located in the David L. Boren Library building on the SSC campus at 2701 Boren Boulevard in Seminole, Oklahoma.