All New Tam College & Career Center
By Dana Baker-Williams
Walking into the new Tam High College and Career Center, you can’t help but notice the bright blue rolling chairs against the shiny red floor. Thanks to a major grant from the Tam High Foundation, these vibrant chairs are just one part of the College and Career Center remodeling project.
Prior to its renovation, the College and Career Center was a run down, tired and disorganized space. Tam’s previous college counselor wanted to fix up the space and felt the students deserved a more welcoming and better-equipped environment in which to congregate and meet for college sessions. With a THF major grant funding both furniture and technology, the center could be transformed.
This complete transformation is a fabulous work in progress. The concept was for the College and Career Center to be a warmer, flexible space. The rolling chairs pair perfectly with lightweight, easy to move tables that fold upright with the click of a button. This flexible furniture is easily rearranged for working individually, in small groups, or creating space for 40 students to attend a workshop. “This year the room is clutter-free. Everything is easy to find and organized compared to the last few years,” observed one Tam senior. “It’s almost minimalist.” Indeed, the large room is noticeably better organized with 2 cubicles, new bookshelves and filing cabinets. The separate cubicles allow for privacy during college meetings or work sessions with the new college counselor.
New college counselor Elizabeth Stoner, is amazing. She is excited to be at Tam and thrilled to be able to influence the renovation. “The idea of having the space separated into a lounging area for the students is great because I love talking with students and just having them around”, says Stoner. The more relaxing environment can help people “keep calm and carry on”–something Stoner thinks is really important in high school. “I try to lessen the stress levels by keeping the space clear of clutter and just low key.” The more casual aspects aren’t in yet, but the CCC is expecting a couch, some comfy chairs, a rug and maybe a bean bag or two. Huge thanks to all of our Tam parents for donating, and to the Tam parents at Pottery Barn Teen, who were able to make this happen for our school.
While the open atmosphere is important, the new technology makes a big difference as well. With the influx of money, THF was able to purchase 26 Dell Chromebooks and a Chromebook Cart for the center. “The Chromebooks are a huge asset”, says Stoner. Now students can spend time in the college center researching colleges, using Naviance, and even working on their applications or essays. For Stoner, “It’s the difference of trying to explain to a frustrated student how to maneuver within a site or the Common App and being able to have him or her do it at the same time I do. It’s really helped.” And it’s not just the students who benefitted. Stoner received a faculty laptop, as well as a projector for use during workshops and for colleges to use during presentations.
In addition to essay workshops, UC application workshops; college visits and one on one student meetings, Stoner is looking forward to having sophomores and juniors use the space as well. One item she really is excited to plan is some personality testing for sophomores to aid in determining which courses would be interesting to them; what traits they may want in a college and help figuring out what they may want to do later in life. “It would be great to get younger students in here before the stress of college decision-making and applications weigh on them,” asserts Stoner.