More than 170 students and 10 teachers will visit campus on Monday, May 5 as part of Geneva 2020’s efforts to build a stronger community and better prepare students for academic success. Students from Geneva’s West Street School and from St. Francis – St. Stephen’s School are participating. The day’s events will begin with a welcome by President Mark D. Gearan and will include sessions on empowerment, transitions, culture, and the environment, among others.
The program was inspired in part by former HWS Trustee Wendy Puriefoy’71, who consulted with the Geneva 2020 committee two years ago and encouraged the committee to think through important research about key transitions in children’s lives.
“The West Street second graders are six weeks shy of becoming North Street third graders. They, and the sixth and ninth grade students, are at pivotal times during their school success journeys,” says Katie Flowers, director of the Center for Civic Engagement and Service Learning (CCESL). “This is why Geneva 2020 is committed to bringing these three cohorts of students to campus to engage with a program centered on college and career readiness.”
Janet VanLone, personal empowerment program instructor for the Center for Counseling and Student Wellness, will lead a fun and informative session on empowerment with the students and will also discuss the connections between the transition college students go through and that which the second graders will experience next year.
“It’s nice to see second graders coming to campus to introduce them to concepts and goals that will be prevalent in their futures. The sooner they start to learn about empowerment, other cultures, leadership, and the environment, the better -so they can form good habits right from the start,” says Kimberly Jones ’14, who will assist VanLone with the empowerment sessions.
Director of International Students David Gage; Fulbright Teaching Assistant in French Mandy Francis; and Program Coordinator for the Center for Global Education Doug Reilly are leading a session on culture and language along with American and international HWS students. They hope to demonstrate that learning about other people is an important part of college, similar to how the second graders are learning about China through their Mandarin program.
Former Geneva City Schools teachers Shayne Feinberg, program coordinator with CCESL, and Jen Harris, director of elementary education and coordinator of field supervisors in the education department at HWS, will lead a session on leadership and future careers titled, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The focus of the activity will be goal setting and leadership.
“We want the second graders to see themselves as college students one day and to see that it is a dream that is available to them and attainable,” says Feinberg.
She notes the second graders will have many books and props to look at, as well as a brainstorm session for ideas. They will draw pictures of themselves in the future and answering a few questions. These will then be collected to give back to the students when they return in sixth grade.
Nadia Harvieux, education program manager for the Finger Lakes Institute at HWS, will lead a program on the environment. Her session, focused on “Water in Our Backyard,” will introduce students to environmental stewardship, explaining that it, and overall citizenship, is something that’s important to HWS.
The Geneva 2020 initiative is rooted in the collective impact model aimed directly at ensuring that high school students in the local community have the skills necessary to graduate from high school and to effectively pursue college. The program has already helped move the local high school graduation rate from 70% in 2010 to 82% in 2013, and to increase the number of local high school students entering college from 74% in 2009 to 76% in 2013. This year, the School District increased its national standing in U.S. News and World Report moving from 141 to 114 in the list of public schools in New York State.