After serving 30 years as a college administrator where my energies were devoted to helping college students find success, I followed my husband to Charleston so he could pursue a career opportunity at MUSC. After much soul searching, I decided to leave my career in higher education to pursue new ways of making a positive difference for Charleston’s children – without “working for pay.” So, imagine my delight when serendipity connected me with the visionary and determined people who are shaping the CPN community! . . . and my good fortune increased even further when I discovered they needed a volunteer to help shape plans for a college-bound culture in the 4 CPN elementary schools!!
Since May, I have researched and explored best practices to translate what we know about college success into plans at the elementary school level. I have been inspired by what I am learning and, more importantly, by what I am finding in the minds and hearts of talented people who are poised to help accomplish our goal to: “Make college attendance and completion a very real, viable, and exciting opportunity in the minds of Charleston Promise Neighborhood elementary school students . . . to increase students’ “CQ” (College Quotient).” I hope you find these discoveries as inspirational as I did.
Ready to Engage
We are reaching out to the entire community (locally and nationally) to share the draft proposal for College Quotient or “CQ” (a/k/a College Bound Culture). We have engaged professionals with experience in various phases of the college experience (from first-year experience to community service programs) as well as educators from the elementary and secondary school levels (from preparatory schools to successful college graduates). We are also tapping the expertise of scholars in the fields of college student success, college bound culture, and the achievement gap to learn lessons from their ongoing research.
These “college culture consultants” have been generous with their time, enthusiastic in their willingness to be helpful and they have provided valuable feedback and thought-provoking questions on our proposal. They have also offered strong validation that we appear to be heading in the right direction and are focused on the right priorities. Furthermore, it has been heartwarming to realize how many college-oriented people in this community are ready, willing, able and eager to help as we infuse a college-bound culture into every aspect of the learning environment at the CPN schools. As a result of this enthusiasm, we are exploring ways to tap their expertise in an ongoing way. A College Resource Directory (for teachers to find guest speakers), a College Culture Consultant Panel (as an ongoing sounding board) and other volunteer opportunities may be in the works as well . . . but first, and most exciting, we will be soliciting input from the most important experts, our CPN teachers, at the August 2 CPN Kick Off Meeting!!!
Conditions for Success
Evidence indicates that the following conditions are present in schools with an effective college-bound culture:
- Enriched Educational Environment (Visible symbols demonstrating that “college is on our minds”)
- College Educated and Caring Role Models (“at least 1” who believes in them)
- Success Oriented Expectations (college attendance is the norm)
- Habit of Student Involvement (in preparation for success in college)
- College Oriented Practices and Activities (infused throughout the learning environment)
Using these conditions as our foundation, we are working on plans for “CQ 1.0” (year #1). These plans include awareness building and cultivation of partnerships (with higher education, business, teachers and community members). Specific efforts may include creating college-oriented visuals such as hall decorations, teacher bios, CQ t-shirts, volunteer and parent activity kits, library and support materials along with a CQ steering committee and baseline survey. Review the current version of our “CQ” proposal and ideas for the first three years.
Your opportunity to engage in raising students’ “CQ”
In my opinion, what we are witnessing through the work of CPN is a remarkable discovery of common ground for people who share a burning desire to make a positive difference in the lives of CPN students. With CQ specifically, we have committed to help CPN elementary school students envision a brighter future with a variety of pathways clearly visible to them for a successful life journey and education beyond high school. I believe great things are about to happen for the CPN elementary schools but we need your help and unique perspective to make this future a reality for the children in the Charleston Promise Neighborhood. Please review the CQ proposal and share your thoughts, ideas, suggestions and reactions AND let us know how you might help as we go live with “CQ 1.0.”
Thank you for caring enough about area youth to be an engaged participant in the CPN community!
With my deepest appreciation,
Strategic Volunteer – Special Projects