This week, I had the fortunate pleasure of escorting eleven 4th, 5th, and 6th graders to a local college for a field trip. Undergraduate education majors from this college have been visiting every week to tutor our students in reading and math skills. As a thank you to the students, the college students invited their elementary buddies to their college for a visit. The college is close enough to school that we were able to walk, and when we arrived, the kids were given a royal welcome. The college students' professor was there, the Dean of the School of Education, and the college mascot! Each person personally welcomed and thanked the students for being there (minus the mascot, who just fist pumped), and their excitement of having our students there was so clear. After the welcoming, our students went on a tour of campus and had lunch at the college dining hall. Let me tell you, there's nothing more thrilling for an 11-year-old boy than unlimited all you can eat pizza and cookies. After lunch, the students were given drawstring backpacks with the college's name on them, and two reserved seat tickets to a basketball game on campus.
In a large urban city, particularly in a school building that is predominantly minority, low socioeconomic status, and in a bad part of town, you have to wonder how many of those kids actually have college in their future. Granted, not everyone needs to go to college to have a successful career, but we push students in our building hard to plan for higher education. By 8th grade, when they're picking out which high schools to apply to, it may be too late to start thinking about college, so we're starting to discuss college beginning in 4th grade. (Maybe it's for the best, since one of the students who went didn't know there were any colleges in our city. There are about 10.) Sure, to most of the kids who went on the field trip, the great lunch was the highlight. But maybe, for a select few, it was a first look into their futures.
As long as that future doesn't include this, I'm game.