I already know that it will be more or less impossible to accurately describe what my children experienced yesterday while visiting the University of Cincinnati.
As the children walked into the classroom they knew they were in for a treat by the way I was bouncing up and down with excitement.
We arrived on campus around 9:00 AM at the Rec Center Circle. The children exited the bus staring up at the large buildings towering overhead. We started the day with a tour of the Rec center, snaking our long line of 50 first graders around the machines and students working out. When we had seen the whole facility the children got to play on the basketball courts. We rotated between basketball, volleyball, and corn hole stations. I think several children were experiencing stimulation overload because my typical busybodies were fairly calm and attentive. ☺
This next part had me nervous. We were going to walk up “Main Street”, the middle of campus, during one of the busiest times of the day- lunchtime! Here I was leading a long stream of students up the middle of the path as I received funny looks from UC students and faculty alike. At one point we were walking next to a young women, one of my students asked “Miss Hansen who is that?” (Assuming I know everyone at my school) I responded with “she is probably a UC student, why don’t you ask her what she is studying”. My student and this young woman had a nice conversation about what it meant to study Communication and why she had to go to class. I was proud that he felt comfortable and confident enough to ask questions and maintain a conversation (one point to Miss Hansen!).
We had the opportunity to eat lunch in the Annie Laws Conference Room located in the Teacher’s College thanks to some of my contacts. The children got to sit in “giant” black leather swivel chairs and feel like they were worth a million bucks! During lunch we had several visitors including the Dean of CECH! I was so proud to show off my students!!
After lunch we talked about how people get to college and why it is so important. I asked several students why they wanted to go to college,” I wanna fix butterflies… can you do that at college?” “I’m gonna be a police” This was a great opportunity to talk about the different degrees UC offers and possible career paths.
Then the part we had all been waiting for… we got to meet “real” football players!! As the children entered the team meeting room their eyes filled with excitement. There were at least fifteen 6’4”, 280 pound, players high-fiving the students as they came in. The children looked tiny sitting in chairs meant for bodies several times their size. The players introduced themselves and then the Head of Player Development gave some basic rules for our gathering.
* Must raise your hand and be called on to speak
* Must say your first and last name before talking
* Must speak with a loud and confident voice
I loved him! He had such authority in his voice, I was jealous!
We watched the 2010 Year Highlight video, which included a lot of gruesome tackles for the children to “oo” and “ahh”. After the video the students got to ask the players questions. These included “what is your number”, “do you live with your mom”, “does it hurt when they land on you”, and “is college hard”?
It was incredible to watch their faces, as if they were in the presences of true celebrities, staring open jawed and without blinking, they were more attentive than I had ever seen before.
To finish off our perfect day, the students and football players convened on the field; the boys played catch while the girls learned cheers from the cheerleaders. It was truly an unforgettable moment.
I would like to think I changed lives that day. That I exposed them to something they might have never seen before. The goal was to show them that there is more to life than what they see everyday. It is my hope that the children left with an excitement towards college, towards staying in school and towards exceeding low expectations.
I know it is unrealistic to say that, because of this experience, all 50 first graders will stay in school and graduate college. A handful of girls are likely to become pregnant before the age of 18, boys will find that gang members respect them more than teachers, and the students with behavior problems will be tagged “ unable to learn”. Before they know it their unfortunate choices will have chosen their future.
I want my students to leave this year knowing that they can do more in life than what society tells them they are capable of. I want them to know that when no one else does, I believe in them. I want them to know I loved them and that they changed my life more than they could ever know.
- A Thrilled Miss Hansen