For most people, they first get to experience the college atmosphere at 17 or 18 years old, but for Wilson Elementary Students that experience has already started.
Wilson students are learning first hand how a university functions through a new initiative to get students college ready. The campus and classrooms have been redesigned to work like a university. Each grade level and instructional area represents a different department. Departments include Social Services, Education, Health, Engineering and Mathematics, Communication and Science. The departments were assigned to grade levels to reflect the grade level’s academic focus.
“Fourth grade represents the department of communications because writing is introduced,” said Kristi David, principal at Wilson. “The classwork in each grade level is aligned with their department. For example, our fourth grade classes have created newsletters on bullying awareness and different colleges in Publisher.”
Students have had a positive response to the department related projects. The projects have quickly become something that student’s look forward to participating in, said Yvonne Rodriguez, teacher at Wilson Elementary.
“When we write our newspapers, we get to express ourselves and what we are thinking,” said Kendra Maldonado, fourth grade student at Wilson. “It also helps us learn how to use our grammar.”
Even class field trips are selected to compliment the grade’s department. This year, Rodriguez’s fourth grade class visited the KGBT-TV news station to learn more about broadcast news, career options in journalism and educational requirements.
With the campus’ university design and project alignment, the goal is to get students thinking about college and future career paths. To further spark that interest, teachers frequently discuss different universities in their classrooms. The campus also recently hosted a tailgating event to celebrate higher education.
Teachers had informational booths that represented different schools around the nation like the University of Texas at Austin and Baylor University. As each student passed, teachers or better known that day as “college representatives” would provide information on the areas of study the university specializes in.
Although originally anticipated for the students at Wilson, the college awareness celebration turned into a community event with over 300 parents, students and teachers present, said David. The day proved to be a success as of one those 300 in attendance finished the day with an idea of the university she would like to attend.
“Tailgating was amazing,” said Jessica Cantu, student at Wilson. “My favorite schools I learned about were Notre Dame and Texas A&M Corpus Christi. Notre Dame has arts and science. I want to try to study one of those.”
Teachers and administrators also hope that with each grade representing a different department, students will have had the opportunity to experience various career paths to be able to identify the area of study they would like to focus on during their enrollment at the Dr. Abraham P. Cano Freshman Academy. The academy will offer students various areas to select from as a course of focus.
It is the first year that Wilson has implemented the university styled campus, and with the success they have seen, they plan on making it a school tradition.