Janus’s backwards-directed face, in this instance, is taking in the district and Patterson High’s 100-year history as they celebrate their centennial this year.
But its the forward-facing side that brought about this gathering on the eve of the new academic year.
Doug Curry of No Excuses University (NEU) was the guest speaker, and he talked to Patterson teachers about the NEU philosophy. The district is looking to expand its adoption of NEU, which, at its core, promotes college and career readiness in every child—no matter their family’s background. Las Palmas and Apricot Valley Elementary Schools have already been officially accepted into the the organization’s network.
Your students “don’t all need to go to college,” said Curry. “But I’ll tell you this: 100-percent of them better have a plan. … If they don’t have a plan, the world will give them a plan, and it won’t be good.”
Integrating the NEU philosophy involves barraging kids with a wealth college symbolism and information starting in elementary school, and working with them through middle and high school to create the plan Curry refers to—one that will earn them a livable wage.
“I graduated from high school, and I simply took one step and I went to college, and it was no big deal,” said Curry. “I had this protective cocoon, and my daddy was going to make sure I was going to go to college anyway.”
Curry expressed, however, that educators, parents and adults in the community need to understand that many kids are born into generational poverty or grow up in families in which education is not a priority and college does not even show up on their radar as a possibility.
“It’s the responsibility of the adults in your school and your community to create exceptional systems in order to make [sure these kids have a plan post-graduation],” said Curry. “It’s not the kids’ responsibility. Yes, it is, but they don’t control your schools. The ones who control the schools are the adults.”
Alfano hopes to disseminate the NEU philosophy beyond just the school district to all of Patterson, following in the footsteps of Curry’s community of Amarillo, Texas. PJUSD has already made steps in that direction with the hiring of a community navigator to help adults who need to receive their GED or learn English work through those processes.
That evening school administration again gathered to hear Curry and NEU’s message, this time with city officials and community representatives present, which included, among others, Mayor Luis Molina, City Manager Rod Butler, Modesto Junior College’s president Jill Stearns, Teri and Arnold Regalado (owners of the local McDonalds) and Center for Human Services Program Manager Laura Elkington.
“We’re excited,” said Alfano. “I definitely want to see if we can go district- and community-wide. People want to have to do it too. That’s the other piece of it.”
Nathan Duckworth can be reached at 209-892 6187 ext. 24 or firstname.lastname@example.org.