The “principal” of Iowa State University, Wendy Wintersteen, visited King Elementary Thursday morning to reiterate the promise of the ISU 4U Promise program that benefits students at both King and Moulton elementary schools.
Actually, Wintersteen’s title is president and she has been all-caps BUSY since her appointment to that post by the Iowa Board of Regents six months ago, the culmination of a 40-year career at ISU. But she made time to come to King and meet students who already have ISU on their radar thanks to an innovative program that was established five years ago.
King and Moulton kids accrue 20% of tuition defrayal for each year of attendance at those schools, if they continue and graduate from a DMPS high school and otherwise qualify for admission to Iowa State, subject to the same criteria as all other applicants.
ISU4U was exciting at the time of its announcement and a resurgence of that mood is happening this spring as the first 12 accepted applicants have committed to attend in the fall of 2018. There will be many more to come.
President Wintersteen toured some classrooms at King where each grade level is “assigned” to a different college within the university. The 1st graders, for instance are attached to ISU’s renowned College of Design. The last stop on her itinerary was the 5th grade classroom of Brooke Fry, who happens to be a Cyclone alumna. All of the 5th graders at King and Moulton visited the ISU campus in Ames on April 19th, so Wintersteen was reciprocating where they were concerned.
She told them briefly about Iowa State’s 160-year history as a land grant university.
“Abraham Lincoln began the land grant schools as a way to ensure that everyone had a chance for higher education” Wintersteen said. ISU4U was launched in that same spirit.
Then she made the mistake of inviting questions. There was no shortage.
“How many hours do you work?”
“All the time,” she laughed.
“How many classes are there at Iowa State?”
“What’s the biggest building there?”
“Why is there a chessboard in the library?”
“Do you have to pay for lunch?”
Other duties awaited, so a halt had to be called. Wintersteen said she would bone up on the answers she hadn’t brought along with her when she got back to her office. And rest assured, the 5th graders will be hearing from her soon – from ISU, anyway.
Their promotion (to middle school, the next step on the road to Ames) at the end of the year will be followed by an official letter from Iowa State University notifying them of exactly where they stand in terms of potential for tuition defrayal based upon the number of years they’ve attended King. Same thing goes for the Moulton grads.
“We are still building the ISU4U system,” said Wintersteen’s counterpart at King, principal Kisha Barnes. “The Community Alliance aspect is a key piece in making our families aware of the amazing opportunity and helping them learn how it works.”
Katherine Richardson Bruna is an associate professor in the School of Education at ISU and coordinates ISU 4U. She echoed Barnes about the importance of the program’s Community Alliance, made up of stakeholders including Oakridge Neighborhood Services, Children & Family Urban Movement, Creative Visions and Next Step Adventure.
“Just as important as getting the students hooked on the expectation of college readiness is getting their families on board too,” she said. “We expect to make campus visits a reality for them, possibly as soon as this summer.”
“Principal” Wintersteen and the Cyclones will be waiting with opened doors.