Reading and literacy are being celebrated this week in the Lake Elsinore Unified School District, as students, their parents and teachers participate in Read Across America, an annual event sponsored by the National Education Association.
This event commemorates the March 2, 1904 birth date of Theodor Geisel, otherwise known as Dr. Suess.
and elementary schools both paid tribute to Read Across America Thursday night by inviting parents and students to the campuses to share in reading their favorite Dr. Suess books together. The schools saw a high level of turnout and participation.
For the schools’ principals, however, the event was a precursor to programs being launched at their respective campuses that focus on preparing students and their parents for something that may seem a little far off in the future: college.
William Collier Elementary is currently launching its “No Excuses University,” a program that begins in preschool and aims to instill in children and their parents that “college is what you do after high school,” explained Principal Dorri Neal.
The program encourages a mindset that college is obtainable for all, Neal continued. She said teachers are wearing t-shirts and sweatshirts that bear their alma maters, and college flags are being waved around campus.
But the “college symbolism” is just the beginning, Neal said. “Parent Universities” are being established to help moms and dads learn how to navigate the path to higher learning.
“We’re here to show them how they can do it,” Neal said.
Teachers also undergo training and they collaborate to ensure no student falls through the cracks, Neal explained. And as the kids progress through their early years, Neal said the program is designed to build character – and confidence – so students believe in their ability to go on to college.
Over at Wildomar Elementary, as students listened to fellow classmates read “Green Eggs and Ham” aloud, Principal Corene Barr was just as excited about a program being launched next year for her school’s fourth and fifth graders.
The Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program will target students in the academic middle – the B, C, and even D students – who have the desire to go to college and the willingness to work hard.
“The program teaches study skills that establish a direction for college or vocational school,” Barr explained. “The program pushes kids to look beyond high school.”
Barr said the goal is to get kids to believe, “Yes, I can go to college.”
The college mindset may help turn around a figure from the California Department of Education that shows just 60.3 percent of all 2008-09 LEUSD high school grads moved on to a postsecondary institution.
The LEUSD’s figures hover above the county, however, where just 56.8 percent of the 2008-09 high school grads moved on to college, according to the CDE. to read more about this topic.