COLLEGE PARK, MD (June, 2017) – It’s never too early to introduce elementary school students to college. That’s exactly what Tauna Lane, a 2013 graduate of the Early Childhood Education program, and her fellow second grade teachers at East Silver Spring (ESS) Elementary School did in early June when they brought nearly 90 of the school’s second graders to visit University of Maryland. The students had the opportunity to visit suites in the football stadium, run the length of the football field, and eat ice cream at the Dairy. They also had the opportunity to meet and interview undergraduate and graduate students from the College of Education.
ESS is one of the College of Education’s professional development schools (PDS) and has had UMD interns placed at the school over the past several years. Ms. Lane is one of a few UMD alumni who are either currently teaching or have recently taught at ESS. She notes that her second-grade team “chose to research colleges that each teacher attended and, based off of their research, chose one school of higher ed. that answered the question, ‘What college is the best for you?’ Over the years, the opinion piece has evolved to researching community colleges and trade schools, and as teachers have come and gone, the students’ exposure to various schools has grown.”
ESS has a very diverse population, with nearly 80 percent of the students considered minority and nearly 60 percent of the students receiving free and reduced lunch. Ms. Lane noted that many of her students did not realize that UMD was so close to where they lived. She added that the “best part about this project is to see the sparks of joy and hope in every students' eyes, regardless of race, ethnicity, ability, gender or socioeconomic background. Each student can see themselves as a college student when they visit UMD.”
After the trip, the students reflected on their experiences. Lucy noted that, “It was interesting because I didn’t know that a college campus included everything like the football field and all of the buildings. I thought the campus was just one building.” Unsurprisingly, many of the students shared their stories of eating ice cream and getting the chance to rub Testudo’s nose for good luck. But Daneal seemed to sum up the trip the best when he noted, “University of Maryland was like heaven. I like it very much. There is so much cool stuff.”
View photos of the field trip.
John Seelke is a lecturer in the Department of Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership and the Director of EdTPA Local Evaluation. His two daughters attend second grade at East Silver Spring Elementary School.