Keeseville Elementary students hold their Olympic torches high.
Students and staff at Keeseville Elementary School know that it is never too early to start thinking about the next step.
The school recently earned membership into the No Excuses University Network of Schools, an organization that strives to build a bridge for all students to attend college as it begins promoting a comprehensive college readiness model starting in pre-kindergarten. Keeseville Elementary is only the second school in the state to earn membership.
At the school, the hallways are marked with the flags of different universities from across the country, with each class choosing a college to “adopt.”
“For each class, the teachers were asked to pick two colleges and they were assigned one of them,” KES Principal Kevin Hulbert said. “We have a wide range of schools represented here. North Carolina, Paul Smiths, and Ohio State are just a few.”
Hulbert said by introducing the students to colleges early, they can focus on what each school has to offer academically think about what they want to study and where.
“Time will tell as far as the overall impact but a lot of the students are making the connection between working hard now and how it helps in the future,” Hulbert said. “That is motivating for them and pretty awesome.”
The school submitted their official application to join the network in November and it took about a month to receive word they had been accepted. The school earned the recognition by demonstrating a commitment to college readiness and through efforts to ensure all children meet standards in reading, writing and math.
About two years ago after I had won the New York State Principal of the Year award, Frank Nardelli (Vice President of Network Development for NEU) called and heard that we had some college focus in our school through College for Every Student (CFES) and thought we might want to learn about their program as well,” Hulbert said. “He is someone who comes from the North Country and he is excited to see NEU starting up here.”
Hulbert said that the key for NEU was to get students looking into the future with the help of educators and community.
“It really is a mindset and focus for everyone including parents and community in developing a culture where college is a viable option for everyone,”he said. “It’s not saying that everyone has to go to college, but it is our responsibility as educators to prepare theses students that if they want to go to college, they are prepared to the point they can do so.”
The schools in the NEU Network are not asked to pay any membership dues. Before schools can apply to become a member of the NEU Network, the principal and a team representing the school’s staff attended NEU Training Institute in San Diego, CA, paid for through a Federal grant.
“The continued success at KES has been a real team effort that has been accomplished through collaboration, cooperation, commitment and determination,” AuSable Valley Central School District Superintendent Paul Savage said. “No Excuses University is a wonderful network that we are excited to support, be a part of and spread it throughout the North Country. NEU is an example of the great things that are happening at AuSable Valley Central and that Patriot Pride is alive and well in the valley.”
“We are inspired by the school’s commitment to college readiness and we respect their relentless pursuit of success for all of their students,” Vice President of Network Development for the No Excuses University Frank Nardelli said. “We believe all children deserve the opportunity to be educated in a way that prepares them for college if they so choose to attend.”
For more information about the No Excuses University, visit noexcusesu.com.
Katherine Clark contributed to this story