News College Me Program Celebrates 33 Years - Garrett College
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Campus News

May 10, 2022

College & Me program celebrates 33 years

Collaborative partnership between GC, GCPS to enrich youth


Pictured are College & Me program instructors Anthony Oliverio (Oliverio), GC’s associate professor of Natural Resources and Wildlife Technology and J.T. Lewis (Lewis), GC’s women’s basketball coach from their sessions with this year’s fifth-graders.

College & Me, a collaborative partnership between Garrett College and Garrett County Public Schools, began in 1989 with the goal of developing positive attitudes toward a college education among fifth-graders in Garrett County.

Participating students are provided with the opportunity to not only see but experience a college learning environment at Garrett College for nearly one full week (Monday-Thursday) throughout the academic year.

The College & Me partnership would not be possible without the ongoing dedication and support from both GCPS and GC, according to administrators with both partners.

"College & Me is a great example of the strong partnership between GCPS and Garrett College," said Dr. Richard Midcap, Garrett College's president. "And the students are the ones who benefit most from this culture of collaboration."

"The College and Me program is another example of the excellent partnership that Garrett County Schools has with Garrett College," stated Barbara Baker, Garrett County Public Schools superintendent. "This program allows students who may not even be considering any type of post-high school education to start thinking about the possibilities."

Baker continued, "While on campus our fifth-grade students are exposed to the many facets of college life. This plants a seed in many of them that a local college, especially one that is the caliber of Garrett, could be a great option for them in the future. We hope to continue this partnership program for many years to come."

Beginning in September and concluding in April, Garrett's campus is filled with excitement generated among Garrett County fifth-grade students participating in many unique enrichment and engaging activities conducted by GC faculty and staff.

During the 2021-22 school year, students took part in the following class sessions: adventure sports, art, cybersecurity, graphic design, mathematics, fitness and physical education, music, robotics, science, theater, and wildlife.

College & Me students enjoy the use of all College facilities, including studying in a variety of classrooms and labs, having lunch, exploring the Library & Learning Commons, and utilizing the indoor pool and gymnasium at the Community Aquatic & Recreation Complex (CARC).

Graduates of the College & Me program often leave with many positive memories of their experience and time spent at Garrett College.

"It is a memory the students talk very fondly of," remarked College & Me's program coordinator, Cindy Crable, who assumed the role for the 2021-22 academic year. "I truly appreciate all of the teachers at GCPS for bringing their students to campus this year and for helping to make the College & Me experience possible for them."

Prior to Crable, previous College & Me coordinators include: Linda Strider, Nancy Pagenhardt, Susan Newton, Joe Winters, and Greg Weinberger.

Instructors in the College & Me program find their job incredibly rewarding and look forward to the start of the program each year.

"The best part of my day is at the end of the session where I ask, ‘Who had fun being an engineer today?', and I get a big cheer from everyone," said Phil Malone of GEARS, Inc., who uses Sumo wrestling LEGO robots to introduce the students to the idea that it can be fun to be an engineer. "I feel like I've opened their eyes just a little to what could be a fun and rewarding career."

Students in Malone's robotics session work in groups to improve their basic Sumo bot, and then test their creations by running a full-blown Sumo competition.

"The kids take a lot of pride in their creations and have tons of fun cheering for their favorites," added Malone. "We also talk about the difference between science and engineering, and how engineers take the discoveries that scientists make, and create cool things that everyone can use."

Ashley Ruby, GC's advising and academic success director, began teaching for the program this past year.

"What I've enjoyed most about being an instructor is the interaction with the kiddos," remarked Ruby, who teaches a mindful fitness session. "I know many of the parents, and even some of the kids, so it's been fun to appreciate those connections. I am looking forward to continuing with the program into next school year when my son is in 5th grade."

Ruby facilitates discussions and introduces activities that will aid in the students' overall wellness.

"Together we do breathing exercises, talk about nutrition, and enjoy group-based physical activities such as ‘Simon Says!' ", noted Ruby. "At the end of the session, we do a stretch, balance, and relaxation workshop before the group breaks for lunch and continues with an afternoon of swimming."

This past year was the College & Me program's first return to campus since the start of the pandemic.

"The students were very excited to return to campus even if that meant wearing masks, social distancing, and lots of hand sanitizer," Crable said. "It was a great pleasure seeing the first group of students enjoying the pool at the CARC and having a great time being back with their friends."

Garrett College is preparing to host a special Spring Fling event for this year's sixth-grade students that were unable to take part in the program last year.

GC will host Southern Middle School and Northern Middle School students on May 18th and 19th, respectively, with adventure sports, anthropology, biology, cybersecurity, fitness, library, physical education and robotics sessions taking place.

Crable is already looking ahead and in the process of establishing program goals for next year's College & Me students.

"We want to continue to provide a ‘college' experience to foster the goal of college attendance for more of our local student population to attend Garrett College or a college of their choice in the future," noted Crable. "I also hope to be able to build connections between fifth-graders and our GC students."