Motivating Future Leaders

Thanks to Florida Gulf Coast University, FGCU, Immokalee Middle and High School students have an opportunity to participate in the College Reach-Out Program, (CROP). CROP, established in 1983, is a free program developed to inspire underprivileged middle and high school students to overcome odds and become first-generation college graduates. After they receive their degree, the principles of the CROP program teach students how to become positive influences in their community. FGCU coordinates the CROP programs in Collier, Lee, and Hendry counties and provides transportation to the campus.

Connie Carter, a Language Arts teacher at Immokalee Middle School, has been a CROP Coordinator for 15 years, first at LaBelle Middle School and now, for the past eight or nine years, at Immokalee Middle School.

“I believe it’s important to start working with them even before they get to High school,” Carter states. Carter further influences the students to “…work as a team, helping one another with issues that can arise while in middle school.”

In order to qualify for CROP, students, have to be first generation college students in their family. The program teaches them skills that they will need to be successful at a post-secondary level. For students who are discouraged about college because of their grades, Carter assures them: “…students in college do not have to be A/B students in middle or high school. Some of the best college students are “C” students who have learned the skills and strategies of how to study.” With many obstacles and unsurities facing today’s youth, Carter motivates the CROP students to keep focused on college. “I encourage, especially the eighth graders, to stay involved with CROP in high school and to take advantage of all opportunities for visiting and/or learning about colleges. FGCU offers summer residential programs that are a wonderful way for students to learn about and even visit different college campuses.”

Along with trips to FGCU’s campus, students get to visit CROP programs from other schools. Carter brags: “When the IMS students attend events… they always amaze me with their very positive and polite behavior! Without question they always represent themselves, our school, and our community extremely well, and I come home proud of them every time. “

What’s more fascinating about CROP is that 82.6 percent of its members get a postsecondary education. CROP has become successful, not only because of the Academic skills taught such as preparation for the ACT/SAT test and offering homework assistance, but CROP teaches personal skills by offering workshops in self–esteem building and conflict resolution training. Many thanks to teachers like Connie Carter and FGCU who dedicate their time and effort to make this program a success.

Lewis Perkins is special to the Immokalee Bulletin and can be reached at

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