The #ReachHigher Photo Project is a fun and easy way for school counselors to collectively show our dedication to helping our students become successful learners so that they can achieve success in college or other post-secondary training. All you need is a goal, paper and marker/printer, and a camera! Write your goal, which should be specific and related to college readiness, on the paper, have someone take a picture of you holding your goal paper, and email it to the address linked below by July 20, 2014. School counselors at all levels are encouraged to participate. If you are an elementary counselor, do not despair! Tons of what we do is related to college readiness, even if it is not college specific!
We may not have much direct influence on whether or not students sign up for AP classes or complete the FAFSA, but we lay the groundwork for this by working to remove the barriers to success: we help them learn how to be learners, self-regulate, persevere, get along with others, develop good work habits, and have the skills they need to manage and overcome difficult and challenging situations.
The Reach Higher initiative is First Lady Michelle Obama’s effort to inspire students to complete their education beyond high school. She spoke about it, and the centrality of school counselors to its success, in her keynote address at ASCA14. The idea for the #ReachHigher Photo Project comes from SCOPE and Erin Mason, who will be collecting and assembling the photos into a slideshow. For all the details (including a prize drawing), check out the SCOPE post about the #ReachHigher Photo Project, but here are the basic directions, followed by some ideas and examples for elementary counselors:
1. Determine a specific goal you have for the next academic year, a data point you want to impact with your school counseling program. This should be a goal related to college readiness and should be a SMART goal. Your goal might be about impacting grades, GPAs, college-going rates, course enrollment patterns, etc.
2. Write or type out your goal on a plain white 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper with a horizontal orientation and visible, clean, clear type or print. Begin your goal with the phrase, “I will #ReachHigher to…” Here are several possible examples:
I will #ReachHigher to increase the graduation rate.
I will #ReachHigher to enroll more minority students in AP courses.
I will #ReachHigher to increase the knowledge of 7th graders about postsecondary options.
I will #ReachHigher to decrease the number of students with Ds and Fs.
(See below for some elementary options I drew from my previous annual goals.)
Optionally, include your FIRST name only and your state but DO NOT include information about your school or district.
3. Have your picture taken holding the piece of paper. Optionally, you may wish to stand in front of a monument, building or article that represents your state. This might be a department of education building, a state welcome sign, a famous landmark, a pennant of a state university, etc. Make sure your goal can be easily read in the photo.
4. Send a clear image to email@example.com by July 20th, 2014 with “Reach Higher Photo Project” in the subject line. There is no guarantee your photo will be used as it will depend on the number of photos submitted and their clarity. If you have any questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
All accepted photos will be combined into a slideshow in time for the July 28th convening on college advising at Harvard that is referenced in the First Lady’s speech and will be made available on the SCOPE site.
To give you some more ideas if you work with elementary students, here’s how I could have adapted my goals from recent years for the #ReachHigher Photo Project:
- I will #ReachHigher to increase the number of fifth graders who understand how a college degree relates to income.
- I will #ReachHigher to increase the number of students who assertively ask for help when stuck on their work.
- I will #ReachHigher to increase teachers’ understanding about how to help children with trauma feel safe enough to learn.
- I will #ReachHigher to increase the number of third graders who understand the connection between behavior and learning.
- I will #ReachHigher to increase the number of fourth graders who plan to go to college.
- I will #ReachHigher to decrease the number of disruptive student behaviors.
Here are my goals for 2014-15 in#ReachHigher language. They’re the ones I’m holding in the photos.
- I will #ReachHigher to increase the number of kindergartners who use self-regulation skills to help themselves be ready to learn.
- I will #ReachHigher to increase the number of fourth graders who can identify post-secondary requirements of careers that interest them.
Have fun with this and share away! Then watch for SCOPE’s #ReachHigher Photo Project slideshow. I’ll be sure to link it here!
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