Hunt Elementary students experience higher learning
Published: Monday, April 23, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 23, 2012 01:04
The privilege of education that so many of us take for granted is easy to lose sight of when running from one class to the next. For 4th grade students from Hunt Elementary however, being on the UCCS campus is a privilege in itself.
Kevin Coughlin, a UCCS alumnus and fourth grade teacher at Hunt Elementary, brought his class on a field trip to visit the campus in order to generate excitement and interest in the idea of college for his students.
Coughlin, with his 10 years of experience teaching fourth and fifth grade classes, collaborated with Kimbra Smith of the anthropology department to make the field trip a reality.
The elementary students paired up with a class of UCCS students on April 13 and toured campus.
The field trip was part of a year-long program designed to engage the Hunt students within their community. “Basically, we have three Hunt students with two UCCS students and they’re kind of buddies for the year,” explained Smith.
Smith, a faculty member since 2006 and strong advocate of higher learning, said, “What I’d like them to get out of this is just the idea that college is a possibility for them and that their community is a little broader than what they’ve experienced so far.”
Hunt Elementary is on the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum in District 11. After enduring a merger in 2009 with Adams and Ivywild elementary schools due to budget cuts, Hunt Elementary is no stranger to the pressures of fiscal strain.
Due to Hunt’s current imposition, students rarely experience the privilege of higher education. “This is my first time inside a college,” said Gene Valdez, uncle of fourth grader Leno Valdez. “I didn’t get to do nothing like this when I was in elementary school – they never took us to nothing like this.”
In the case of Hunt Elementary, Gene is not the only uncle acting as a father figure. Coughlin takes his influential role as a teacher very seriously, “Just being a positive male role-model is something that they don’t naturally get. Y’know? I have a lot of students that are living with aunts, uncles, grandparents.”
Coughlin’s students were ecstatic to see the pendulum in the Osborne Center and the 9/11 memorial outside the Engineering Building. Their enthusiasm continued as they paired up with their senior buddies to build Lego Mindstorms robots.
The workshop was hosted by Michael Reyes, an instructor and former member of the Student Government Association at UCCS. Students were given a brief lecture on the importance of understanding goals before they were allowed to build their robots.
“I’m going to program [my robot] like my dog.” said Deborah, one of Coughlin’s students.
The field trip gave the students of Hunt Elementary a positive memory about college. “They need exposure at a young age,” said Coughlin. “They need to see that this is a warm, inviting place that they can do things that they don’t normally get to do. They need an opportunity to be told that they can go to school.”