KEESEVILLE — Kevin Hulbert knows it’s easy to make excuses.
But at Keeseville Elementary School, where he serves as principal, no excuses are made when it comes to students’ success.
In fact, it is the belief that all children can be successful, regardless of their circumstances, that recently earned the school membership to No Excuses University.
The national organization, which operates under the philosophy that everyone deserves access to an education that prepares them for college, provides educators with resources, training and events focused on promoting that concept.
“We’re excited about it,” Hulbert said.
Schools must apply for membership to the organization annually, and if accepted, they gain access to a network of nearly 200 schools that work together to share ideas and best practices.
“The No. 1 benefit of it is this great network of schools,” Hulbert said.
In addition to hosting national conventions and webinars, he continued, the organization provides members with onsite professional development.
Upon being accepted to No Excuses earlier this month, Keeseville Elementary became only the second school in the state to earn membership in the educational network.
“Once you’re actually accepted, you do get that feeling like you have this really huge responsibility to do everything that you said you’re going to do,” Hulbert said.
As part of the application process, the school had to create a video demonstrating its culture of universal achievement, as well as show its commitment to college readiness.
To do so, Keeseville Elementary implemented multiple concepts in an effort to make sure kids from kindergarten through sixth-grade understand about higher education, so they can keep it in mind as a tangible goal to work toward, especially when things get tough.
For example, every class has adopted a college, and the school has declared each Friday “college spirit day,” when all students wear college T-shirts.
Teachers at every grade level have also begun introducing students to vocabulary centered on higher education.
Kindergarten kids, Hulbert said, are simply made familiar with the term “college.”
However, by sixth grade, students are exposed to words like “professor,” “dormitory,” “major” and “minor.”
“We can take those vocabulary words and develop all kinds of assignments,” he said.
One challenged students in kindergarten through second grade to create collages about what college means to them. Meanwhile, older pupils wrote letters as if they were away at college and describing the experience to their parents.
“They’re definitely priceless,” Hulbert said of the letters, which demonstrated the children’s understanding of the vocabulary and college culture.
In one letter, a student explained how she was getting along with her roommate even though she was a bit of a slob. The letter also described how the two had found a kitten outside their dormitory and were trying to figure out what to do with it.
The assignment, Hulbert said, not only promoted secondary education, but also provided an opportunity for creative writing.
There is no cost associated with membership to No Excuses University other than the cost of travel to the organization’s conventions, which, Hulbert noted, the AuSable Valley Central School District will cover with grant money and fundraisers.
It’s important, the principal added, for the community to know Keeseville Elementary is truly committed to helping all its students succeed.
“The people here really care about the kids, and we care about the community,” he said.
For more information about No Excuses University, visit noexcusesu.com.
Email Ashleigh Livingston:firstname.lastname@example.org