Beacon of Hope’s Kids to College and Elementary College Fair initiatives aim to promote a college-going culture in Lynchburg City’s Elementary Schools. From Kindergarten through high school, there is an expectation for every student to graduate with a plan to become an educated, contributing citizen in the community—whether it is embracing a vocation or trade school or matriculating to a four-year or two-year college, joining military service, or receiving on the job training in a field that needs local employees. That conversation does not begin with students in the 12th grade, or even in the 9th grade. That conversation begins in Kindergarten!
After introducing the idea of college and what it takes to get there, we take it a step further by encouraging students to research colleges and careers in Virginia that will help students reach their goals! That is why we initiated the Elementary Student-Led College Fair Project where students, teachers, and counselors dedicate time each month to research and learn more about higher education in Virginia.
Beacon of Hope brings grade-level initiatives to many elementary schools, from Kindergarten through fifth grade. Our goal is to work with teachers, administrators, and staff to incorporate the following components of a college-going culture into everyday core and elective earning activities:
Exposure to setting goals and creating the expectation of graduating from high school
Exposure to institutions of higher education – both locally and across the country
Exposure to careers and the educational level that leads to those pathways
FUTURE THINKING, BEGINNING AT 5 YEARS OLD
At Beacon of Hope, we feel it is important that students in Lynchburg City begin to dream about their future and expect great things.
This we believe, needs to start early in education. In 2013, Beacon of Hope created a Kids to College initiative which serves many of our elementary schools in the LCS district.
In Kindergarten through second grade, students learn about four major topics in regards to their future. The topics are:
GRADUATION FROM HIGH SCHOOL
Learning the year when you will graduate from high school allows students to look into their future and set a high expectation to achieve. Students also learn that it will take hard work and a plan to reach their goals.
The plan we work on is:
Work Hard – Every Day in Every Grade
Make Good Choices – I am in control of my choices
Never Give Up – You will get a little better each time
COLLEGE - WHAT IS IT?
At Beacon of Hope, we believe college is an “umbrella term” for post-secondary education. It’s that second piece of paper – whether it’s a two-year degree, four-year degree, trade or industry certification, or enlisting in the military – students are taught that each are different and important.
Each of these pathways are discussed and overall, students learn the importance of continuing their education after high school.
CAREER - HOW DO YOU WANT TO HELP OTHERS OR WHAT PROBLEMS DO YOU WANT TO SOLVE?
Students are asked about what they may want to be when they grow up, yet in a slightly different way. We explore a wide variety of careers and explain how most jobs fix things or help people. We also identify the fact that each job is needed in order for our community to run properly.
CO-PILOTS - WHO ARE YOURS?
Students learn the importance of identifying their support systems. We discuss the value and need for others to come alongside us throughout our journey. We also identify co-pilots in our lives both in and out of school so we know who we can go to for support.
They must want what’s best for you
They must help you make good choices
You must be able to trust them 100%
The Kids to College Program and Elementary College Fairs are designed in partnership with Lynchburg City Schools to support middle school transition and the Beacon of Hope Future Center work that is already in place at E.C. Glass and Heritage – LCS’s two public high schools. The components of Kids to College and Elementary College Fairs are relatively simple though proven to be effective and offered at a low cost-per-student ratio.