A college education is tangible if you have the right mindset.
That was the message to the nearly 50 students from Joseph M Gallagher Elementary School in Cleveland who came to Hiram on May 4, as part of the Cleveland Goes to College Initiative.
The Cleveland school has been designated in academic emergency, and Brad Maguth, assistant professor of education, said this program was designed to show the students the possibilities at their fingertips if they prepare themselves for a college education.
“There’s major issues in regards to poverty at this school,” he said, “and there’s a huge need for tutors, for clothes, for people in the community to come in and work with the kids.”
The visiting students – comprised of 6th, 7th and 8th graders – were broken into small groups and paired with a Hiram student to complete a scavenger hunt around campus. They solved riddles, while learning about Hiram, its history and the programs offered.
Dee West, director of Ethnic Diversity Affairs, offered some inspiring words. She told them that even though only two percent of the world’s population has a college degree, they can be part of that small percentage if they work hard and “get sharp.”
“It’s not easy, but it can be done,” she said. “It matters that you make your mark.”
For most of these students, it was their first time on a college campus, and Maguth said it’s exciting to see them exposed to something that, unfortunately, does not happen for most Cleveland school graduates.
“It’s a sense of frustration, a sense of anger, a sense of not standing back passively to these things that are happening,” he said. “It’s really being involved and trying to make a difference. I want to be there in the trenches, helping these teachers help their students. And I want to bring my students along.”
Earlier this year, Maguth’s students helped prepare Joseph M Gallagher students for the Ohio Achievement Assessment (OAA), a statewide test for students in grades third through eighth grade.
Kallie Rogers ’14, said before this experience, she never really thought about teaching in urban schools, but seeing the very real struggles first hand gave her motivation to go there in the future.
“It was touching and inspirational,” she said.
Maguth, who graduated from Cleveland schools himself, said his students have benefitted from the experience just as much as the elementary school students.
“This school has done so much for us,” he said. “Our students go out there and their teachers teach our college students about what it’s like to teach in an urban school. They really have given so much to us.”
Cleveland Goes to College is a collaboration between the city of Cleveland, Mayor Frank Jackson, Cleveland Metropolitan School District, College Now of Greater Cleveland, the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Cleveland and the Cleveland Public Library. Its mission is to get more students from the Cleveland Metropolitan School District to go to college.