As we approach the end of the first week of F&M College Prep 2012, I want to share a few thoughts on the importance of this work and celebrate the outstanding experience created by our team. Our sixty-one students come from ten states across the country, educated by schools including KIPP, Mastery, Uncommon, and Achievement First schools or in more rural Pennsylvania schools participating in the Keystone College Advising Corps program. This article captures some of the excitement these students have brought to our campus.
For me, a few highlights have been watching students learn about river conservation at our Millport Conservancy; listening to student essays in a workshop facilitated by an expert creative writing teacher; hearing them describe the lessons they’ve learned each day in the eight college-level mini-courses taught by our faculty; and, especially, seeing this group of incredibly diverse, hard-working, high-striving rising seniors share experiences and become friends with each other and our equally diverse group of F&M-educated program mentors.
The students live with their mentors in our beautifully appointed Weis College House, which has extraordinary spaces for learning and community. Each day, they start with yoga or mixed martial arts, take part in two two-hour seminar meetings, eat meals in our dining hall, and participate in activities we’ve designed to further their intellectual growth or enhance their capacity for leadership. The students seem highly energized by being surrounded by so many peers who share their optimism and drive. These students came to us ready to learn and grow every day, and it is exciting to see us challenge them and draw them out. I hope that all of our partner schools will feel that these students return for their senior years enlarged by their experience, highly-motivated to excel, and ready to be leaders among their classmates.
This should be a great weekend; today we host KIPP co-founder Mike Feinberg and his family for dinner with all the students in the program at my home, and on Saturday the students will take on the District of Columbia where they will tour colleges and visit the National Mall, Smithsonian museums, and the monuments.
There is no doubt in my mind that this program reinforces the pro-college cultures of the students’ schools and can continue to grow in impact as a resource for still more students, higher education, and the cause of education reform. We hope to inspire more colleges and universities to adopt our model and to work with more partner schools and networks in the coming years.
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Through this blog, I seek both to express the meaning that our community of students, faculty and professional staff make on campus together and also to add a more intimate educator's perspective to the national dialogue on issues affecting college students and alumni. I invite you to share your comments and engage with other readers as we explore issues related to the greatness of youth, life at Franklin & Marshall College, academic excellence, supporting faculty and student research, increasing civic outreach among students, and providing support for students' personal and professional development.
President, Franklin & Marshall College
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