Jenks Junior High School students get a taste of college life

RIC professor Marie Lynch (center) is joined by students and faculty as she speaks to the students from Jenks Junior High School.
Fifty students from Jenks Junior High School in Pawtucket toured the RIC campus on May 4 with Marie Lynch, assistant professor of special education, and her special education class to help illustrate that college is a real and attainable goal for the Jenks students.

The visit is an extension of the ongoing relationship between the Feinstein School of Education and Human Development’s Department of Special Education and Jenks, where students with little or no exposure to college can interact with current students and experience a day on the campus.

“Eighty-seven percent of our Jenks students live at or below the poverty rate,” said Sue Pfeil, Jenks Junior High’s principal. Most have never been to a college campus. Many do not know anyone who is currently in college except for the RIC practicum students they see and work with in their classrooms.”

The visit was made possible with support from the Rhode Island Campus Compact Partnerships for Success grant and the FSEHD Office of the Dean/ Special Projects.

The students began their day in Alger Hall room 110, where Lyndsy Fontaine from the Office of Admissions gave them a presentation about RIC.

A panel discussion followed with the teacher candidates, who answered a variety of questions about college life. The seventh and eighth grade students asked about classes, and campus life.

The teacher candidates suggested that the students work closely with a guidance counselor or take a college course in high school to help them prepare for a college workload.

Following the panel discussion, the students were divided into smaller groups and went on a tour of the RIC campus.

Led by RIC senior Emily Garcia, the students visited the Student Union, Horace Mann Computer Lab and the new residence hall.

After their tours the groups gathered in Donovan Dining Center for lunch and then returned to Jenks.

Lynch explained that the trip was successful and that student and teacher feedback was very positive.

“The goal of this initiative was certainly accomplished,” said Pfeil. “Students returned from the trip talking about all they learned, their goals to attend college. Many specifically said that they wanted to attend Rhode Island College.”