College Summit Advisor, Roosevelt High School
Veteran CSA, Brian Kruger continues to dream of ways to share college and the College Summit experience with his students and colleagues. Earlier this fall, Mr. Kruger planned the very first "College Day at Roosevelt High School." On this day, every staff member was asked to wear an article of clothing from their alma mater.
Mr. Kruger says "the objective [was] to increase our students' awareness (and comfort level) regarding the post-secondary educational opportunities available for ALL high school students." In this appeal to the staff of Roosevelt High School to participate, Mr. Kruger went on to say, "I hope you will agree that there ABSOLUTELY is a college/university, technical/trade school, armed forces, etc. educational option available for EVERY student at Roosevelt. Our job is to help them find the right opportunity and to NEVER let them lose hope for a better life, a brighter future and a successful career after they graduate from Roosevelt."
It has since been decided that "College Day at Roosevelt High School" will occure one school day each month. During this day, the faculty is asked to share stories from their college experience, all the while donning their favorite college apparel.
Mr. Kruger and his colleagues at Roosevelt High School are changing the college-going culture, one "College Day" at a time.
Guidance Counselor & College Summit Coordinator, Beaumont High School
"Every Child Is a Gold Nugget"
When you speak with Sonja Little, one of the guidance counselors at Beaumont High School in St. Louis, you are immediately put at ease. She embraces all visitors, from students, who constantly pop in to say hello or goodbye or check on a scheduling detail, to colleagues sharing new ideas and new approaches to the very future itself. Her soul is a welcoming and hopeful gateway, relaxed to be sure--but also on guard to capture, at a moment’s notice, the genius of her students and show it to them. In Ms. Little’s open presence, you get the feeling that she has one eye focused on you sitting before her and one eye out for what lies just around the corner—for you and for her.
Her philosophy of college guidance centers on a unique notion of time and a concept she calls the “emotional address.” A person’s emotional address contains a bank of positive memories of personal successes and meaningful emotional attachments. Your address contains all of the good times and warm connections that have happened to you throughout your life. Ms Little insists that everyone needs an emotional address, because in times of stress we must return to it. “I tell my students that at the times they are most stressed, they need to rely on the positive things in their lives that are permanent, that have already happened, that will be a part of their lives forever.”
And this is why she fell in love with College Summit in the summer of 2003. After attending a summer workshop, she realized that the College Summit curriculum and approach were completely congruent with her emotional address philosophy of guidance. In effect, College Summit and the Navigator curriculum give students a profoundly moving and, at the same time, intensely practical emotional address. When asked to reflect on her experience observing her students participate in a College Summit workshop, Ms. Little's voice chokes a little. “I don’t want to cry,” she explains, “but it’s very emotional. When I saw the writing process and read what our students wrote, I realized that every child is a gold nugget. They don’t realize that, but in the College Summit writing program they suddenly realize it. And then everything changes for them.” In that first workshop, she witnessed “frightened individuals become mature individuals” in just four days. Students at the workshop said to themselves: ‘I can write! I did that! And it didn’t take me a year to do that’. It was incredible. Each one of them went through a metamorphosis.”
Ms. Little returned to Beaumont and introduced the College Summit program to the entire senior class with the help of the Navigator curriculum and the inspired modeling of the Beaumont peer leaders who attended the workshop. Since then, she has witnessed a “climate change” among the students. 12th-graders now take a senior seminar in which they work through the Navigator week-by-week. In very practical terms, this seminar physically concentrates the work of the guidance counselors at Beaumont. “We used to have to run after children,” Ms. Little says, “but the Navigator makes them stationary. All we have to do now is give them what we need to give them when we need to give it to them.” In addition, the Navigator empowers her students and motivates them to dream about and plan for the future. She insists that even the non-college bound students should participate in the College Summit program, because the Navigator “makes them better people. It gives them life skills, like time management tools.”
In more general terms, though, the academic culture of Beaumont has also shifted since College Summit was adopted. The peer leaders instruct the underclass students “about doing the right thing, coming to school, being on target, taking the right standardized tests” all the time. Ms. Little reports, “All the sophomores want to do [the senior seminar].” It is clear that through the work of Ms. Little and her colleagues, Beaumont High has become an emotional address for its students.
85% of Beaumont students are now on the college-planning track. Ms. Little wants every student who has the ambition to be able to go to college. “We all have a purpose,” she says. “I want to guide the young people. I must do that, or I must leave. Everyone who works with kids should have that attitude.” Thanks to staff like Ms. Little, the students at Beaumont High have placed the relationships with their high school teachers at their emotional address.
University of Missouri - Saint Louis
Don Cheadle College Summit Founding Spokesman
Learn more about College Summit by watching this informational video.
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