Houston public charter school first graders tour HBCU virtually

On Friday, Oct. 16, Bloom Academy, a high-performing Houston public charter school serving 100 percent Black and brown students, hosted a college tour at Howard University, an HBCU, for 24 first grade students to provide early exposure to college.

Students explored various buildings on campus, learned neat historical facts and got to know famous Howard University graduates. The first graders were especially excited to have learned that Chadwick Boseman, their Black Panther, attended Howard University.

Ms. Brooke Williams, a proud HBCU alumna and lead tour guide, selected Howard University as this week’s virtual field trip who believed it was incredibly important to expose all of her students, most of whom hail from the historic third ward, to the world around them.

“HBCUs provide a place for young people of color to feel affirmed, develop pride in who they are and what they will be, and gain the knowledge and skills necessary to impact the world,” said Bloom Academy Lead Teacher Ms. Brooke Williams.

“HBCUs are institutions of learning made with people of color in mind – not as an afterthought by way of one designated center or building on campus that you often find at other universities. HBCUs create a community that endures long after graduation. My students need to be grounded in why they are in school now, and the college options that exist for them in the future.”

Bloom Academy teaching fellow Hayley Washington said, “being a new team member at Bloom Academy, and serving in the role as the first grade teaching fellow, has been an awesome experience. Coming up with inventive and engaging virtual field trips, is one of the highlights of my week – because we refuse to let our children’s goals, dreams and aspirations be hindered by the four walls around them during remote learning.”

One Bloom Academy first grader said: “I want to go to Howard because the buildings are beautiful! But don’t tell my momma because she went to Prairie View University and wants me to go there too!”

With so many students across America learning virtually due to the constraints of the pandemic, Bloom Academy has become a model in showing innovative ways to engage students at an early age to the college experience, and helping them explore various opportunities and college paths.