By Toni Ross
What was your biggest fear of college as a grade school student?
Many students today would answer with “the professors” or “it’s going to be too hard for me”.
Harrah Public School’s Parent Leadership Academy recognized these fears and wanted to give their students the chance to engage in a college classroom taught by a real professor.
On Friday, Feb. 3, Harrah Schools invited Rose State’s professors to come teach their students from seventh to 12th grade and provide them with the college classroom atmosphere.
The PLA had the opportunity to organize Professor Day as their big project with the Oklahoma GEAR UP program that works directly with Harrah schools. They work to provide students and their families with planning resources, scholarship opportunities and readiness tools to effectively prepare for college.
GEAR UP’s direct student services and parent specialist Edra Thrower said that “part of the program works to train parents [on] how to be advocates in their schools and build the college going culture for students.”
Professor Day encourages professors to teach content of their choice to educate the students. Harrah High School Principal Kenneth Riddle said, “the intent is a snapshot of what college students will see in this professor’s class on a regular basis.”
Humanities Professor Toni Castillo took part in helping to organize Professor Day last year after PLA member Angela DeCocq contacted her about needing professors.
Castillo mentioned how she and other colleagues in the Humanities division tried several different ways to reach out to middle and high school teachers to get relationships established and thought this program was the perfect way to achieve that. Castillo also said how she was so impressed with how much of the staff was willing to participate.
“My colleagues are incredibly generous with what they devote their time to and I feel very proud to be a part of this program and to Rose State.”
This year, about 10 or more professors attended the event and were mostly made up of the Humanities division. Castillo is hoping that the whole school will become involved in the coming years.
The professors who participated this year all had great things to say about their experience and most plan on doing it again next year.
Professor Chris Knox was excited to share her experience. “The Harrah eighth graders were excellent … [and] I think the experience will make an imprint on the minds of the students we taught. When they think of college, they will have a prior experience that was positive and meaningful.”
According to Edra Thrower, Oklahoma GEAR UP is also looking to expand this event to the other school districts as part of their program, so it may be popping up at several schools nearby, providing the opportunity for many more professors to participate.
If interested in participating, contact Toni Castillo at 733-7498 or firstname.lastname@example.org.