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'I Know I Can' program inspires children

Second graders begin early career exploration and college awareness

Posted: November 4, 2012 - 1:07am

From Monday through next Friday, the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education and the University of Alaska College Savings Plan will again partner to bring the message of “I Know I Can” to second-grade students in Juneau schools.

Since 2007, “I Know I Can” has encouraged children and their families to think about and discuss college and careers early in their school experience. Research shows children can learn to think of themselves as having higher education and related career opportunities as early as age 8 and the discussion sparked by I Know I Can helps open their minds to the multitude of college and career options available to them.

This fall, volunteers will visit schools in 34 communities to share a colorful storybook about dreaming for the future and working hard toward career goals.

Participating Juneau schools include Gastineau Community School, Glacier Valley Elementary School, Mendenhall River Community School and Riverbend Elementary School.

Volunteers with a variety of postsecondary education credential, including apprenticeships, specialized occupational training from military service, as well as vocational or collegiate certificates and degrees, will share the “I Know I Can” story with over 1,500 second-graders in participating schools.

This fun children’s book tells the story of a group of animal friends trying to decide what they want to be when they grow up. Through the story, children learn that working hard in school and preparing for college will help them achieve their dreams.

After hearing and discussing the story, students draw pictures on postcards of what they want to be when they grow up. The postcards are mailed back to students two years later as a reminder of their goals.

Each student takes home their own copy of the book which includes extra activities designed to stimulate family conversations about college preparedness.

Students also have a chance to win a $1,500 UA College Savings Plan scholarship account.

Bonnie Carroll, marketing director of the UA College Savings Plan, said the program helps youngsters think about the many exciting opportunities ahead in their future.

“Young children love to think about what they’re going to be when they grow up, and we must be sure they know the steps to take in achieving their goals,” Carroll said. “We know many jobs may not require a four-year college degree, but most careers require some level of postsecondary training and workforce education beyond high school. Families need to start saving for these future expenses.”

“‘I Know I Can’ lays an early foundation, providing positive encouragement to help second-graders imagine their dreams and discover how to make their dreams a reality through hard work and a strong education,” said Shelly Morgan, K-12 specialist with ACPE.

The UA College Savings Plan funds Alaska’s project, with operational and staffing support from ACPE.

“I Know I Can” was established by a national nonprofit organization based in Ohio.

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