U teams up with Rybak to promote college

Assistant vice president for Equity and Diversity Rickey Hall, left, reads “I know I can” to third grade students at the Sullivan School on Wednesday as part of a college awareness day taking place in Minneapolis Public Schools.

Chris Roberts

Assistant vice president for Equity and Diversity Rickey Hall, left, reads “I know I can” to third grade students at the Sullivan School on Wednesday as part of a college awareness day taking place in Minneapolis Public Schools.

Colin Brown frequently wears different collegiate sweatshirts to school. Brown, a third grade teacher at Sheridan Global Arts & Communication School in Minneapolis, parlays his fashion sense into discussions with his students about each school to motivate them for college âÄî even if it is 10 years away. The Sheridan School is taking part in the second annual âÄúI Know I Can College Awareness Day,âÄù a citywide initiative based on the nationally acclaimed childrenâÄôs book âÄúI Know I Can,âÄù which addresses to children the importance of going to college. Six Minneapolis elementary schools hosted more than 200 volunteers, mostly from the University of Minnesota along with Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak Wednesday as they read the book to third graders, shared personal experiences and lead discussions about the importance of higher education. The initiative, which is a collaboration between the city of Minneapolis MayorâÄôs Office , Minneapolis Public Schools and the University, is the first step in the Minneapolis Promise , a cluster of coordinated efforts designed to eliminate barriers to post-secondary education for Minneapolis youth. Elementary education and sociology senior Rachel Wax was the primary volunteer recruiter at the University and the liaison to the mayorâÄôs office. âÄúItâÄôs a crucial time in third grade,âÄù Wax said. âÄúThey learn to read for content, instead of in second and first grade when theyâÄôre just learning to read.âÄù Minneapolis Public Schools wanted to have the awareness day in February so it coincides with their read-a-thon month. Music education senior Jessica Dalbec participated in the event last year at Seward Montessori School and returned this year. She said she thought the event had been successful in getting kids to think about college. Laurel Hirt , from the UniversityâÄôs Career and Community Learning Center , also had a hand in organizing volunteers and said the University has geared many programs toward exposing children in K-12 schools to the idea of college. âÄúThis is just one piece of a larger puzzle that weâÄôre trying to emphasize,âÄù Hirt said. Representative from the mayorâÄôs office, Claudia Fuentes , said the goal is to have students college ready as part of the Minneapolis strategic plan for the Minneapolis Public Schools, which says 80 percent of students will meet or exceed state standards for math or reading by 2012. âÄúMembers of the community are truly interested in the welfare of our young people,âÄù Fuentes said. Schools involved included the Seward Montessori School , Anne Sullivan Community Center , Marcy Open School , Longfellow Community School , Pratt Community School , and Sheridan Global Arts & Communications School .