The University of Iowa’s REACH — Realizing Education and Career Hopes — program, enters its seventh year this year, but only its second year with current Director Pam Ries.
REACH program is a two-year certificate program that is designed to serve individuals facing intellectual challenges.
In July 2013, Ries became the director, and Jo Hendrickson, who was director at the time, became the executive director of the program.
Hendrickson has been a part of the program since its inception.
The two have worked together to better maintain research, as well as the organizations’ day-to-day operations.
“Having an executive director and a director has allowed us to accomplish twice as much this year,” Hendrickson said. “We highly recommend this model to other programs as an effective way to transfer leadership.”
Hendrickson said because of the two different positions, she has been able to work on research, such as growing a database for REACH statistics.
Ries said regardless of the transition, the group has worked well and accomplished several goals this past year, including maintaining the quality of the program during the transition of leadership, collaborating with departments and colleges around campus, integrating technology into lessons as a tool for learning, as well as aligning standards and indicators throughout the curriculum.
“The outcome for these students is growth that parallels the experiences of any college freshman student,” Ries said. “Upon completion of the program, UI REACH students have an employment rate four times the national average of similar adults. Those results surpassed our greatest expectations.”
For this coming year, both the organization and the UI College of Education have goals they look forward to accomplishing.
Ries and education-school Dean Nicholas Colangelo said officials are working on increasing scholarship fundraising, aligning assessments with lesson and program objectives, formalizing the group’s strategic plan, and increasing opportunities for integrated classes for our students.
“One of the things we certainly look at is continued funding to help with scholarships for REACH students,” Colangelo said. “Any student who wants to be in UI REACH, the cost of it won’t be a deterrent.”
In addition to the group’s accomplishments for the past year, Ries has hired a number of individuals who are able to work with the different population of students the organization receives.
“She has transitioned to the position in a seamless manner,” Hendrickson said. “She and the staff have not only continued to provide quality services to students but have advanced the program and its partnerships in and across the university.”