It really is never too early to start thinking about the future, even if you are in elementary school. Sure, college is probably one of the last things on the mind of a young student, but beginning to build a foundation of knowledge and taking stock of a person’s own interests is a worthwhile pursuit at any age.
The recent College Awareness Day is a new initiative for Huntington UFSD’s elementary schools. Teachers held discussions with students and talked about where they went to college and why. There were even alumni on the scene at some schools, highlighting their experiences for the youngsters they came across during the day.
“This fun filled day included conversations between teachers and students about their own college experiences,” said Kitty R. Klein, district director of guidance and testing, K-12. “Students in grades K-6 had the opportunity to learn about many opportunities that lie ahead beyond high school and how they can learn about different vocations. Students asked questions and shared ideas about careers they were interested in pursuing when they get older.”
Huntington graduates were excited to participate and speak with the current generation of students. “Some classrooms took virtual college trips through Nearpod software to view college campuses and different settings,” Ms. Klein said. “This helped both our visual and auditory learners.”
Students, teachers and support staff were all encouraged to wear college apparel representing schools across the state. “This initiative is expected to continue each year and I look forward to expanding our counseling program,” Ms. Klein said. “Career and college awareness is necessary for student development and personal growth.”
The program was very well received across the district. It included public address system announcements throughout the day at many buildings. “Students change constantly and are continuously learning about their world around them,” Ms. Klein said. “Their personalities are formed based on their exposure and experiences. As such, we need to provide students with such opportunities and help them set tangible goals.”
Flower Hill School librarian Jeanine Caras was among the faculty members participating in the initiative. “I found some drone videos that toured my alma mater of Marist College,” she said. “We had a fun discussion about drones, which were definitely not present when I was a student at Marist and how differently they can capture the look of a school.”
Mrs. Caras used the mini-presentation to discuss vocabulary words and terms like campus, graduate degree, major/minor, and electives. “I showed that the college is based along the Hudson River, which lent itself into a Google map visual of how long the river is and where we are in proximity to where the school is,” she said. “We discussed things like hobbies, interests and strengths of ours that can help us with goals we can set for ourselves when choosing where to continue education after high school. They loved seeing the campus and it was fun for me to show them where I went.”
Although young students might not yet be able to grasp all the nuances of college and careers, they are smarter and more capable than many people might realize. The Huntington youngsters absorbed everything that was presented and left school that day with a much better understanding of what lies ahead.
“These students are our future and they hold a lot of promise and much certainty,” Ms. Klein said.