Monday, June 18, 2018
Education

Woodland Elementary students tour Saint Leo University to encourage college goals

“Vast" was one of the words on the vocabulary list, and second- and third- graders from Woodland Elementary School put it to good use as they walked the grounds of Saint Leo University during a recent field trip.

"These kids think that a 3,000-student campus is vast," second-grade teacher Nancy Martin said with a chuckle. "They have no idea."

By university standards, Saint Leo might be described as intimate, but for elementary students it is a vast piece of real estate compared to their own campus.

"I like the pool and the church and especially the gym," said Christopher Hendrix, 8, as he lined up with classmates to head to the next stop: the cafeteria. "We don't have a gym at our school."

With Saint Leo students serving as tour guides, the youngsters from Woodland got a glimpse of what college life might look like for them.

Sure, you can talk to kids about going to college in the classroom, said Saint Leo junior Sara Vogel, 21. "But they really can't understand the concept. I think for them to come here and see what it's like is a real eye-opener."

"Now they have a picture when we say 'college,' " Martin said. "They see the library, the abbey, the business building, the gymnasium. They are learning about scholarships; taking in the architecture and the culture. Now we have a few kids who are saying, 'I'm going to go here.' "

That's the idea.

When they grow up

It's all part of a schoolwide motivational theme that has about 850 students at Woodland thinking about what they want to be when they grow up and how to get there.

"Woodland Wranglers, Planning Ahead, Aiming High, College Bound," is the mission statement plastered on bright blue and yellow T-shirts and on signs hung throughout the elementary campus.

That theme is highlighted regularly — during the college spotlight on the school's morning news, through vocabulary lessons with words such as "scholarship," "tuition," "degree" and "campus," and in the black-and-white composition notebook in the school principal's office listing the dreams of every Woodland student to one day be a police officer, teacher, football player, neurosurgeon and even a few princesses. Student council members also push the message to their peers, working hard to raise funds to establish a college scholarship for a graduating Zephyrhills High student who once attended Woodland.

"It's never too early to start thinking about college," said Woodland principal Kimberly Poe, who contacted each of her teachers' alma maters last summer to ask for college swag to post on the hallway bulletin boards.

The idea is to provide hope for students at the Title 1 school who might not be thinking that far ahead. The reality is that students will need some sort of education after high school in order to be successful, said Poe, a true Gator fan who was raised in a single-parent home and earned degrees at the University of South Florida and Saint Leo. "There was never any question that I would go to college. We want to reinforce that message to our students now."

Some motivation today

It's a message not lost on students like Aubrey Hicks, 9, who recently appeared on the morning news to give a shout-out to the day's featured college, the University of South Florida. While Aubrey once thought about being a ballerina or a "horseback rider," these days she has her heart set on being a marine animal trainer — after getting a degree at USF.

"I'd like to work with dolphins, seals and possibly whales," she said. "I'm really interested in a lot of those animals and I think it would be a pleasure to work with them."

Fourth-grader Elijah Garcia, 10, is also thinking about attending USF and perhaps enlisting in the military. "Then maybe I'll be a running back for the Buccaneers."

And there's buy-in from parents such as Elenya Hulbert, a member of the school advisory council whose sons, Kyle, 11, and Austin, 9, attend Woodland.

Both boys got excited about researching different colleges as well as the military academies, Hulbert said. "I think it's motivated them both to do well all year. I see it as being a really great thing for all the kids, that people really believe in them and they can do something with their lives no matter what their parents do or whether they went to college themselves. They're getting the message that they can do anything they set their minds to."

Comments
Ethan Hooper steps up with a salute to teachers

Ethan Hooper steps up with a salute to teachers

Editor’s note: Ethan Hooper wrote today’s column to give Ernest Hooper Father’s Day off.In May, I graduated from the University of Central Florida with a degree in elementary education, and I recently secured a job as a first-grade teacher with Orang...
Published: 06/18/18
AP World History course is dropping thousands of years of human events - and critics are furious

AP World History course is dropping thousands of years of human events - and critics are furious

Since 2002, the AP World History course has covered thousands of years of human activity around the planet, starting 10,000 years back. But now the College Board, which owns the Advanced Placement program, wants to cut out most of that history and st...
Published: 06/16/18
School board races attract new faces

School board races attract new faces

TAMPA — When long-time Hillsborough County School Board member Susan Valdes resigned this month from the board to run for the State House of Representatives, the decision affected more than just her seat in west Hillsborough’s District 1.It also coul...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/17/18
Hillsborough schools tax referendum is unlikely for November

Hillsborough schools tax referendum is unlikely for November

TAMPA — Money that the Hillsborough County School District needs to build schools and replace air conditioners might be farther from reach, thanks to a new state law and a bureaucratic process required before the voters can decide on a tax referendum...
Published: 06/14/18
University of Chicago eliminates SAT/ACT requirement

University of Chicago eliminates SAT/ACT requirement

The University of Chicago will no longer require ACT or SAT scores from U.S. students, sending a jolt through elite institutions of higher education as it becomes the first top-10 research university to join the test-optional movement.Numerous school...
Published: 06/14/18
Unhappy with superintendent’s budget wish list, Hernando School Board shuts down talk of tax increase

Unhappy with superintendent’s budget wish list, Hernando School Board shuts down talk of tax increase

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County schools Superintendent Lori Romano presented to the School Board Tuesday nearly $53 million worth of budget priorities, asking them to choose which will be funded in the upcoming school year.The board voted 3-2 later Tue...
Published: 06/13/18
UT shines the spotlight on visiting authors

UT shines the spotlight on visiting authors

The University of Tampa’s MFA program will host the June 2018 Residency Visiting Writers Lectores Series that runs from now until June 21 on the ninth floor of the Vaughn Center, 401 W Kennedy Blvd. Each reading will be held at 7:30 p.m.Each January ...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/15/18
Hernando School Board fires Superintendent Lori Romano after member says she ‘lost the public trust’

Hernando School Board fires Superintendent Lori Romano after member says she ‘lost the public trust’

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County schools Superintendent Lori Romano will step down at the end of this month following a 3-2 vote by the School Board to terminate its contract with her amid increasing concerns about her ability to lead.Romano has suffere...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/13/18
Pasco summit aims to merge school cultures while making students feel included

Pasco summit aims to merge school cultures while making students feel included

NEW PORT RICHEY — The dozen Fivay High school students and their administrators arrived at the Pasco County school district’s annual Together We Stand conference with a clear goal in mind.With hundreds of former Ridgewood High students arriving in th...
Published: 06/12/18
Central’s air rifle team prepares for national competition

Central’s air rifle team prepares for national competition

BROOKSVILLE — Historic Camp Perry is where it’s at. Located near Clinton, Ohio, the National Guard training facility is where the nation’s top shooters go to compete.Next week, some of Hernando County’s top shooters compete there in the Civilian Mark...
Published: 06/11/18
Updated: 06/14/18