schoolbus-graphicFor many elementary school students, college is a faraway dream.  For some, it isn’t even a thought. 

A new effort started in the Joplin School system will soon give young students their first look at university life.

First graders from Joplin’s Columbia Elementary School will visit Missouri Southern State University at 10 a.m. on Monday, April 1.  The children will be coming to MSSU as a part of “Operation College Bound” — a Joplin Schools initiative to introduce elementary school children to the possibility of college.  The students will be accompanied by teachers Jennifer Williams and Jeanette Groesbeck.

The pilot program is made possible by a grant from Bright Futures Joplin. 

The children will be coming to campus to see what college life is all about.  They will tour the Spiva Library, The Billingsly Student Center and Lion’s Den, Residence Halls, lecture halls, laboratories, athletics department and other areas on campus.

Two Columbia teachers, Libbie Burd and Jennifer Statler, developed the effort after they returned from a model schools trip to Kentucky last year.  The project was launched last September at Columbia Elementary. 

Columbia is raising funds through various events to sustain the program.  In addition, Joplin High School (JHS) seniors who are former Columbia alumni will have the opportunity to apply for a post-secondary scholarship awarded by Columbia.  These funds will come from the money raised through different events (art auction, merchandise sale, and other efforts).

“We  want every child that enters our school to know it is possible to go to college or any post-secondary training,” says Libbie Burd, 3rd grade teacher at Columbia.

“We want to expose them to choices they have and opportunities within our surrounding area.  We believe that starting at a young age can help focus our students to set goals for their future.”

As part of Operation College Bound, all Columbia Elementary School students, kindergarten through 5th grade, will visit a different college or university campus every spring.