Education and Human Development

GEAR UP Jefferson County

GEAR UP Jefferson County

Project services will include: workshops for financing college and career pathways, support for implementing more rigorous secondary school course offerings, STEM and computer science focused camps/activities, ACT boot camps, tutoring programs, guest speakers from statewide colleges and universities, campus visits, online book studies, summer institutes, Saturday training/workshops, Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), academic enrichment summer camps, mentoring programs, digital literacy awareness, and family/guardian involvement workshops.

GU-JC Overview

The goals for the students served by the GEAR UP Jefferson County (GU-JC) project are as follows:

Goal 1 – to increase the successful academic performance, educational expectations, and preparation for/participation in post-secondary education.

Goal 2 – to increase student and family knowledge of post-secondary education options, preparation, and financing.

Goal 3 – to increase the rate of high school graduation and participation in post-secondary education for GEAR UP students.

GU-JC is designed to improve access, opportunities, and outcomes for students from historically marginalized populations and under-served communities, particularly students of color, students from low socioeconomic backgrounds, and students with disabilities. GU-JC will support, strengthen, and expand the existing infrastructure, as well as enhance academic opportunities and rigor, increase exploration of post-secondary options, and equip students and families with information and tools to plan for and access post-secondary education.

Affiliated Schools  & Cohort

Bessemer City High School – Class of 2024 and Class of 2025
Fairfield High Preparatory School – Class of 2024
Midfield High School – Class of 2024 and Class of 2025
Tarrant High SchoolClass of 2024
Clay-Chalkville High School – Class of 2024 and Class of 2025
Center Point High School – Class of 2024 and Class of 2025
Fultondale High School – Class of 2024
Hueytown High School – Class of 2024 and Class of 2025
Shades Valley High SchoolClass of 2024 and Class of 2025
McAdory High School – Class of 2024 and Class of 2025
Minor High School – Class of 2024 and Class of 2025
Pleasant Grove High School – Class of 2024
Pinson Valley High School Class of 2024 and Class of 2025

GU-JC Executive Team

Dr. Alvin Taylor

Associate Professor of Instructional Leadership Program

Dr. Taylor has over 30 years of experience working in both K-12 and Higher Education. He specializes in school law, residency of administrators and school finance. Prior to joining UM, Dr. Taylor served 26 years in education in the state of Mississippi, and retired as Superintendent of the Meridian Public School District in 2016.


Dr. Cassie Raulston

Associate Professor of Elementary & Instructional Technology Programs

Dr. Raulston earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education/Early Childhood, M.Ed. and Ed.S in Special Education with an emphasis in Gifted Education, and Ph.D. in Instructional Leadership with an emphasis in Instructional Technology all from the University of Alabama. At the University of Montevallo, Dr. Raulston teaches in the Elementary, Secondary, and Instructional Technology programs. Previously, Dr. Raulston was a Gifted Education Specialist, Instructional Technology Specialist, and developed various trainings for educators.


Dr. Amy Samuels

Associate Professor & Coordinator of Instructional & Teacher Leadership

Dr. Amy Samuels teaches in the Instructional Leadership and Teacher Leadership programs at the University of Montevallo. She earned her B.S. in Secondary Education Social Studies, with a minor in Black Studies, from Clarion University of Pennsylvania. She earned both her M.Ed. and Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from the University of South Florida where she specialized in curriculum policy and development, Critical Race Theory, and practices for fostering equitable schools. Dr. Samuels’ research aligns with
educational justice, Culturally Responsive Pedagogy, and issues of race and racism.


Dr. Gregory Samuels

Associate Professor of Secondary Programs

Before arriving at University of Montevallo’s College of Education, Dr. Samuels previously taught in Baltimore and Tampa for more than 10 years in the social studies classroom. After earning his M.Ed. and Ph.D. in Curriculum & Instruction/Social Science Education at the University of South Florida, Dr. Samuels joined the Department of Teaching, Leadership, and Technology at UM. In addition to teaching courses on classroom management, diversity, literacy, and social justice, Dr. Samuels supervises teacher candidates in the Secondary Education Master’s Program.

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