Teach for America and Northwestern bring middle school students to campus

North by Northwestern | October 22, 2010

By Kerri Pang

School buses arrived Thursday morning at Tech with 150 students and 30 staff members from KIPP Ascend, a charter school on Chicago’s West Side.

Teach for America and Northwestern group Students for Teach for America brought the fifth and sixth graders to campus for tours, class visits and talks with students and professors.

“This field trip definitely connects our mission to real life. After seeing what college really is and what their futures can be, our students will be more motivated in working towards that goal,” says Emily Rolling, KIPP Ascend’s learning support specialist.

Ascend is part of the Knowledge is Power Program, a national charter school network founded by two alumni from Teach for America. The program focuses in college preparatory courses for low-income students.

“Ultimately, we seek to prepare students to become successful citizens who eventually give back to the community,” says Amy Pouba, principal of the fifth and sixth grade.

Ascend students spoke with Northwestern students and professors about their future goals and college plans. The middle school students also visited the African-American Student Affairs Center and the Multicultural Center.

After being addressed by Pouba, the students were led to the final aspect of their day at Northwestern — an exclusive tour at Ryan field and Welsh-Ryan Arena to meet student athletes.

This was the first collaboration among Teach for America, KIPP Ascend and Northwestern. SESP senior Amanda Haase and Weinberg senior Brenna Helppie-Schmieder, co-presidents of Students for Teach for America, said they were optimistic for the future of the project.

“We’re hoping to continue KIPP Ascend’s college visit as a tradition,” said Helppie-Schmieder. “Other universities are also interested in hosting the same program hence it is a definite possibility for today’s event to be recreated in a variety of other schools.”