Every May, our Kindergarten students participate in a memorable Graduation ceremony. Students are introduced by their name & what they aspire to be when they grow up as they walk towards the School Board President, Superintendent & Principal to receive their diploma (ie: Melissa Kartsimas, future teacher). The auditorium is decorated with “little graduate” art projects of their future profession. At the conclusion of the ceremony, I thank everyone for coming and present to the audience the College Graduating Class of 2031.
Our mayor attends the graduation ceremony, along with other honorable guests, and a follow-up article was then published in her town newspaper:
“As I attended a new set of graduations this past May and June, I must say that my favorite is always attending the Kindergarten graduations at the grade schools. These adorable, innocent children are irresistibly cute. One of the things they do during the program is to state what the child has said they would like to be when they grow up. There were the obvious choices of teacher (although some were specific like 1st grade teacher or Kindergarten teacher), fireman and officers, but then you find some really out in left field ones that don’t go with the norm. For instance there were a couple children who wanted to be a paleontologist. A paleontologist is a person who studies dinosaurs (I had to ask too!). While listening to the choices, I wondered how they came about with their answers.
Yes, the teachers were already professing the kindergarten graduates were the college graduating class of 2031. College can be important, but not everyone is suited or can afford to attend four years of college. Plus, it doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t earn a good living without one. Heck, I know garbage truck drivers that are making 6 figures and driving BMWs! But somebody has to do it. So the next time you have an opportunity to talk with a young child, point to a building and ask them how do you think that building was built? Or show them the bricks on a wall and tell them what type of profession puts those bricks one on top of the other. You just might be talking to the next architect or bricklayer. The seed has then been planted.”
Late-July is always one of my favorite times of the year, as teachers begin returning to their classrooms and efforts begin to refresh and reorganize the learning spaces for students. I’m always excited to see new teachers blossom, with their personalities becoming evident as they set up the arrangement and decor in their classrooms. One teacher this year, in particular, has showed her dedication to our district by spending time as a paraprofessional, assuming a maternity leave replacement, and this year serving as a teacher in her very own classroom. I was immediately drawn to the sign outside of her door! What a great message this sends to our students and families–that we believe in each child’s future potential.
In addition to seeing this powerful message, I observed many photos with the hashtag #tct or “Think College Thursday” from @8amber8 ‘s school district. Think College Thursday allows staff to share their college experiences with students. I immediately knew we had to capitalize on this Kindergarten teacher’s sign and implement “Think College Thursdays” at our school. I sent out a Google Form to collect information on where all staff members attended college/university, and we asked staff to come in and get their polaroid taken.
(FujiFilm Instax Mini 8 Instant Film Camera)
We created a bulletin board in a shared space to show which colleges our staff members attended in bar graph form, with the title, “We Went to College–You Can Too!”
We want our community to know that collectively, we believe that college & career readiness begins in elementary school. We will start by wearing college shirts and/or colors on Thursdays, but this will encompass more than just wearing college shirts. This movement will get our students to think about life after high school. Starting October 8th, each week our students and staff can wear any university shirt to school. Our goal is to make students aware of colleges & universities that exist and prompt our students to begin thinking about school once they graduate from High School.
Thanks to the #principalsinaction Voxer group, I’ve also learned about some other ideas that will enhance this movement.
How do you inspire your students to think about their futures?