No Excuses University comes to Humboldt

No Excuses University comes to Humboldt

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HUMBOLDT, Tenn. (AP) — Students in Nancy Sims' classroom are only in third grade, but they know they make up the college class of 2029.

"I am smart," the students recite in unison every morning. "I am capable. I am important and I deserve this education. One goal, all students, no excuses."

Throughout East Elementary School in Humboldt, classrooms and hallways are filled with pennants, mascots and flags from colleges across the country as the school works to become a "No Excuse University."

The program is a network of like-minded schools, according to Jennifer Springer, who teaches fourth grade at East. Springer launched the effort to bring No Excuses University to her school. The school is not officially part of the program, but will apply to become a member at the end of the year, she said.

"It's a belief that all students deserve to be educated in a way that prepares them for college," Springer said.

Springer said many parents do not talk about college with their children, but students need to strive for higher education.

"High school's too far down the road to start to talk about school," Springer said. "By the time they get to high school they're going to need to know what they want to do. Elementary school, I think, is where to start that."

In order to bring college to the students, teachers each picked a college for their room, decorating with college paraphernalia. Grades each know their class year — not when they will graduate high school, but when they will graduate college.

No Excuses University is based on six systems: intervention, data management, assessment, standards alignment, collaboration and a culture of universal achievement.

Charlotte Shivley, principal at East, said the school already had those systems in place, but embraced the program because it unified them and tied up loose ends.

Colleges adopted by different teachers include Baylor University, Auburn University, Union University, Lane College, Bethel University, Hawaii Pacific University and more.

"The students in that class, they know everything about Hawaii Pacific University, and some have said, 'I'm going to go to Hawaii Pacific University' when they get older," Springer said.

The guidance counselor's room takes a different twist by being themed after the movie "Monsters University."

Springer said the program allows students to learn about different parts of the country and to realize that their dreams can take them anywhere.

Students refer to themselves with the names of their adopted college's mascot. Some know the cheers of the university and students are allowed to wear their college's T-shirt on Mondays. Teachers and other employees wear No Excuses T-shirts on Fridays.

Some universities have even coordinated with classrooms. Springer's classroom adopted Murray State, her alma mater, which is sending a T-shirt for each of her students.

Another teacher, Leandra Morgan, tie-dyed shirts orange to give out to her students, who cheer "War Eagle" on call.

Maleah Murphy, 7, said she wants to go to college in Memphis. She said she enjoys having her second-grade classroom revolve around Auburn.

"I want to get my education and I want to be a teacher," Murphy said. "It looks fun and you can teach people to learn stuff."

Zavierre Cook, 8, said that while he enjoys getting to wear his orange T-shirt to school, sitting in an Auburn-themed classroom can be a struggle for someone who wants to attend the University of Alabama.

Cook wants to go to the University of Alabama because he likes their football team and wants to become an FBI agent, he said.

"I like the school and I like the team," he said.

Outside Sims' classroom, college "applications" hang on the wall for each student, saying what they want to major in and where they plan to go. Her classroom is University of Tennessee themed, and many of her students said they want to attend that school.

One student wrote about wanting to attend Lane College to be a dentist, "Because I like brushing my teeth." Another wrote about wanting to be an artist, studying at the University of Tennessee.

"It's our job to broaden the dreams and the futures of all these kids," Springer said. "Every student needs a good education, a good college education, to fulfill their dreams."


Information from: The Jackson Sun,

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