April 01, 2002 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Great Expectations

This ESL teacher wants her middle schoolers to aspire to higher ed.

Her middle school students might be a bit young for fraternity parties and coed dorms, but educator Xochitl (pronounced SO-sheel) Fuhriman-Ebert doesn’t think it’s too early for them to start thinking about college. “I’d start them in kindergarten if I could,” she says.

Each year, Fuhriman-Ebert, an Oregon ESL teacher recently turned administrator, and her colleagues at Ontario Middle School take their 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students on field trips to campuses such as Albertson College and Treasure Valley Community College. There, they take tours, sit in on classes, taste dining-hall food, and quiz panels of undergrads about college life. When the students return to their own classrooms, they write essays about their adventures in higher education.

It’s part of the College Awareness Program Fuhriman-Ebert created in 1995, her first year of teaching. She recalls being shocked when one of her ESL kids asked: “Miss, what the hell is college? Where is it?” Within a week, she had whisked her students to nearby Boise State University to show them.

Ontario Middle School is located in a small town in Oregon’s poorest county, Malheur, and nearly 60 percent of its students are eligible for free or reduced- price lunches. More than three-fourths of the students in Fuhriman-Ebert’s first classroom were Hispanic—many of them children of migrant farm workers—and the Latino population is rising. She worries that far too few English language learners aspire to college. “For [other students], it’s a birthright,” she says. “I want to show them all, this is something you can have.”

Leticia Guardado, an 8th grader at Ontario Middle School, has gone on the college field trip two years in a row. She talks enthusiastically about the spacious dorm rooms she saw at Boise State and how she hopes to go to college one day. “I want to be a lawyer, so I can make some money,” she says.

Fuhriman-Ebert grew up as a native Spanish speaker in Idaho. She distinctly remembers that her own high school career counselor never mentioned the possibility of college to her, suggesting instead that she look into ROTC programs. Having thrived as a graduate student at the University of Southern Mississippi nonetheless, Fuhriman-Ebert is determined that her ESL kids won’t experience the same frustration. For these students, she says, “We need to make college an expectation.”

—By Rose Gordon


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
IT Infrastructure & Management Webinar
From Chaos to Clarity: How to Master EdTech Management and Future-Proof Your Evaluation Processes
The road to a thriving educational technology environment is paved with planning, collaboration, and effective evaluation.
Content provided by Instructure
Special Education Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table - Special Education: Proven Interventions for Academic Success
Special education should be a launchpad, not a label. Join the conversation on how schools can better support ALL students.
Special Education K-12 Essentials Forum Innovative Approaches to Special Education
Join this free virtual event to explore innovations in the evolving landscape of special education.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: May 29, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Briefly Stated: May 8, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: April 17, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: March 20, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read