Santa Clara University


Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative (NPI)

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 Jessica Sullivan

Tuesday, May. 21, 2013

I have a few exciting updates in regards to Washington Elementary.  First off, Maria Evans, the school’s energetic and fearless principal, was recently awarded SCU’s 2013 Ignatian award at the President’s dinner, which I was lucky enough to attend in honor of Maria and her many accomplishments.  Her dedication, drive and commitment to the lives and futures of the students of Washington Elementary and their community made her the obvious choice for this year’s award.  I am so proud of her and am delighted to see her recognized for her years of service and love for underprivileged students. You can watch her Ignatian award video here.

Additionally, for the first time ever, the fifth grade class of Washington Elementary came to SCU as their annual filed trip to a college campus.  The fifth graders, their teachers, and a few San Jose rotary members rotated around campus, visiting the Mission Gardens, the Mission church, the library, the Forge Garden, one of SCU’s solar decathlon houses, and Lucas Hall.  I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to plan and facilitate their visit in Lucas Hall and introduce them to the Leavey School of Business.  First, we showed the group the Map Room, where NPI has laid out a general map of a few main streets in the Washington neighborhood, displaying key businesses and photos from our experiences there.  The kids were delighted to see a visual representation of the neighborhood where most of them have lived their entire lives.  Many of them explained where they lived in relation to the landmarks highlighted in the map, and pointed out certain businesses, exclaiming things like “that’s my dentist!” and “this place has the best pupusas.”  It was a joy to watch them personally identify with the map, as it made them feel more at ease at SCU and captured their interest and attention as we explained why we made the map and how we use it.

After the quick visit to the Map Room, we brought the children to one of the executive classrooms and business students of all years and majors served as panelists for a presentation on business school majors and the differences between college and elementary school.  The Washington students were very interested and asked tons of questions.

Once all of the sessions were complete, we met everyone in a large group on the Kennedy lawn to enjoy lunch and chat a bit more with the kids.  It was really nice to be able to speak with them individually in a less structured setting.  Overall, the visit was a huge success, and most of the kids left imagining themselves as students at SCU in a few years.  We can only hope that future classes of 5th graders from Washington Elementary have the opportunity to come to SCU in the upcoming years!

As the school year for Washington Elementary is coming to an end, it is a bit nostalgic to say goodbye to the 5th grade students.  Over these past two years, I have grown to know and love these kids, and will miss seeing them at Washington.  However, watching them transition into a new period of their lives, I am so proud to be able to say that NPI and SCU’s LSB students were able to make an impact on the kids before they move on.



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