Challenger School

“College Bound”


Along with the common core has been a call for college and career readiness in our nation’s public schools.

But what does this mean exactly?

How does a school, aside from higher expectations and rigor inherent in the new core, develop college-going attitudes and habits in our youth, especially when students are young? And especially with children whose families may not have traditionally seen college as an option?

Last week, my son came home with a bracelet. Not one of those rubber things that you can buy for a dime.

No, this was a nice charm bracelet, silver in color. Far more mature than what you might expect from a fifth grader.

Upon closer inspection (I was inclined to accuse my son of taking the bracelet from an unsuspecting teacher), I noticed a lone charm on the bracelet. It read “College Bound.”

My son received this bracelet and a charm because he is demonstrating independence at school. He perseveres. He demonstrates independence, something that will be important as he continues his education.

His teacher, rather than just talking about independence and perseverance in general terms, has applied a broader label. The label is “College Bound.”

A few nights ago, we were planning a fun family outing. I warned Jadden that we wouldn’t be able to participate in the family outing if he was going to have difficulty getting up in the morning (read a former blog of mine called “Rise and Shine” about how difficult it is to awaken my ten year old on school days).

His response to my warning was, “You don’t have to worry any more, Dad. I can get up by myself. I’m college bound.”

Perhaps this is all gimmicky. Perhaps it doesn’t carry the meaning that I hope as Jadden moves from elementary to middle and eventually high school. I can perhaps read more into the college bound concept because I come from privilege and know that college is a possibility for our family. We can afford it. We have the resources and the access that some families lack, outright.

But what a great message to our young people, especially those from more marginalized backgrounds. The teacher has single handedly, with a simply phrase, shaped the outlook of my son toward school. It’s not about going to school to do math or reading or to finish the fifth grade. It’s about further developing his college bound mind. In other words, it is about true and meaningful learning. His teacher, named Catherine Palmer, has brought some much-needed relevance to the very task of going to school.

About author

Dr. Jim Martin

Dr. Jim Martin

Jim Martin is a principal in the Salt Lake City School District and foster dad to two boys. He is graduate of Westminster College, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education. He then went on to get a Masters degree in Teaching and Learning and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy. Jim has taught kindergarten, first, fourth, and fifth grades. This is his tenth year as a public school administrator. In his spare time, Jim loves theatre and has acted in over 30 productions. He is the artistic director of a local theatre company.

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