At Dick Scobee Elementary in Auburn. Washington, second graders are learning what it means to be Bearcats.
Amanda Brooks, a Saint Vincent College alumna of the class of 1998, is one of many teachers participating in No Excuses University, a program where college readiness is promoted from pre-school on.
The school Brooks works at is currently at 85 percent free and reduced lunch with about 35 percent of the students participating in English Language Learners programs. Dick Scobee is also the most heavily impacted school in the area by homeless students, behavior incidents and students living below the poverty line.
No Excuses University seeks to create a culture of universal achievement where students are capable of meeting educational standards in math, reading and writing. “In promoting college readiness,” says Brooks, “we show our students from an early age what is possible through hard work and goal setting.” The students learn about a college, requirements for enrollment and personal characteristics that college students have such as time management. Dick Scobee began participating in the program last year, and now the kindergarten students can be found telling the teachers about their college plans.
The students have incorporated Bearcat Thursdays where they dress in green and gold, learned the Bearcat fight song, learned about Mister Rogers and taken a virtual tour of campus. A current student is also taking pictures around campus to share with the second graders.
Brooks chose to use Saint Vincent as her college model because she, “felt it was important for my students to learn about a college in a completely different part of the country. I had an amazing experience at SVC, and I wanted to share that with my students.”
When asked what his favorite part of Saint Vincent was Austin, a second grader in Brooks’ class, answered, “The campus is really beautiful. It looks like a good place to learn.” Ruby, another student in Brooks’ class said that, “It looks like a really fun place to learn. I want to go there like my teacher did. I want to learn math and be a cheerleader for the football team.”