‘Get ready’ for college

Published 10:30 am Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Justine Reimers would like to pursue a career as a doctor. Miguel Reyes wants to play in the National Football League. Jesus Mercado has his sights set on a job as a medical secretary. All are careers that usually require a college education.

But these students aren’t seniors in high school, or even juniors.

They are fourth-graders at Sumner Elementary School.

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The Austin Public School District has launched a new after-school activity this year in grades 4 and 5 called “Get Ready,” an early intervention and collage awareness program from the Minnesota Office of Higher Education.

Bridget Whalen, a Spanish teacher at Sumner, is the advisor for the fourth grade Get Ready group that meets from 2:45 to 4 p.m. every Tuesday for 14 weeks.

“It’s really fun for the kids,” she said. “It lays out all our lesson plans for us. We talk about goal-setting and mentorship. We talk about what jobs there are.”

Whalen said she was hesitant when first learning about the program because the students are so young.

Now, she said, she is a big supporter.

“I think it is a good idea,” she said. “Right now, it’s just the idea of the future. It’s just to get them into the mindset there is something after high school.”

Last week, the group — which has about nine registered students — studied mentorship, and how mentors influence them. Later, they will visit Riverland Community College with the fifth grade group to learn more about careers.

On Tuesday, they learned about career possibilities in their “What Will I Be?” booklets. For example, the students learned to identify what they like to do, combined with what they are good at, to come to a possible career choice.

“One important thing you should do when you get to college is stay for how long you want to get a job for,” Reimers said as they discussed their lesson.

“You should research your goals and not back down,” she said.