May 07, 2014 18:47 Age: 4 yrs

An Ivy League Visit: A Special Field Lesson Helps Third-Graders Grow Their Passion for College

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Victoria Woods is a third-grade teacher at AF Brownsville Elementary. She and her fellow teacher, Hanna Sufrin, recently led third-graders on a tour of Yale University.

Our third-grade writing teacher, Hanna Sufrin, is a Yale University alumna. Her classroom is named Yale, and her students are very invested in being “Yalies.” Each week, a student earns the honor of “Yalie of the Week” and wears a Yale shirt. Students know all about the different residential colleges at Yale, and they are so excited when Hanna tells them stories about Yale. They were beyond excited when Hanna announced they would be going on a trip to New Haven to visit Yale University. They had no idea that their visit to Yale would make the possibility of a future on an Ivy League campus feel even more attainable and real.

During the visit, our tour guide took us through several of the residential colleges, the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, and areas where students socialize in between classes. We saw the Harkness Tower, which holds the Yale Memorial Carillon. We also saw several famous statues on campus and learned a lot about Yale’s history. Our third-grade “Yalies” came prepared with lots of questions for our guide and really enjoyed exploring the campus.

We visited Branford College, one of the residential colleges where Hanna lived when she was a student, and then our students went to a Q&A with current Yale students. They spoke about their majors and classes, and they were very honest about the challenges of college. Our students loved learning about the variety of classes available in college and were excited when they learned students can choose their own classes and study anything they want. We also met with Hilary Fink, dean of Branford College and professor of Russian literature, who connected with students over milk and cookies. She showed students a basement café called “The Buttery,” where students can go late at night to make food and coffee or socialize with their friends. Our third-graders never realized college could be so fun.

By the end of the day, every third-grader was determined to one day go to Yale. A few girls even made a pact that they would all apply together and, when they all got in, celebrate acceptance together. It was inspiring to see eight- and nine-year-olds take such a real interest in going to college. It helped me remember the power that extracurricular events can have in sparking the interests and passions of the children we teach.



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