Nearly 300 fifth-graders from the Wapato School District will visit Central Washington University later this month, a new mentoring program modeled after one created at Western Washington University that was featured in Education Lab last year.
Like Western’s program, called Compass 2 Campus, the CWU program recruits college-age mentors who will volunteer in Wapato classrooms four hours a week, and encourage young children to finish high school and enroll in college.
Janet Spybrook, a professor of language, literacy and special education who is leading the adoption of Compass 2 Campus at CWU, said Wapato is 50 miles from the CWU campus in Ellensburg, and has a very diverse population. About 70 percent of students are Hispanic and 20 percent are Native American, and more than 90 percent of students there qualify for free- and reduced-price lunches.
Spybrook said a large number of faculty members and service organizations are participating in the Oct. 28 field trip. “We want to show them (the students) what the breadth of offerings could be,” she said. “We want them to see our buildings, our facilities, see what’s going on on campus. We’re hoping to make it a very inviting meeting.”
After the field trip, 20 trained CWU student-mentors will start volunteering in Wapato classrooms. The program will expand to a new cohort of fifth graders next year, but this year’s group also will continue to be part of it. Year by year, the program is designed to eventually reach all students from fifth through 12th grade in the Wapato School District — and perhaps to some neighboring districts as well.
The goal: To educate students about all postsecondary options, including trade school, two-year colleges and the military. The hope is that if students start shooting for college or other post high-school training early in their educational careers, they’ll be more likely to graduate from high school and further their education from there.