Pilot program aims to break stereotypes for minority middle schoolers through new experiences

SEATTLE — A group of 26 minority students from Washington Middle School got to experience college life this week at Seattle University. It’s one of several opportunities they’ve had this school year as part of Inspirational Workshops, a program funded by King County Best Start for Kids in cooperation with Seattle Public Schools.

“I see things differently than I had in the beginning,” Seventh grader Kamilo Jahn told KIRO 7.

On Wednesday, the students toured the Seattle University campus and had a discussion with the director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs. The Inspirational Workshops program consists of first-period daily course at Washington Middle School. And throughout the year they students have gotten out of the classroom, including a trip to Washington, D.C.

Last week, they went to Microsoft’s campus in Redmond to learn about jobs in the tech industry.

“Some students who I took to Microsoft would've never had that experience before,” Inspirational Workshops Director Theresa Hardy told KIRO 7. "What I believe is: When you show them what change looks like, that's how you really create change.”

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Hardy got three years of funding from King County Best Starts for Kids to implement her program.

And she worked with Seattle Public Schools. Administrators chose the 26 kids for the program at Washington Middle School.

At Seattle University, the middle schoolers shared their passions, dreams and goals. One student talked about wanting to become a fashion designer and another talked of his love of math.

Kamilo Jahn told KIRO 7 the college campus visits have had a big impact.

“Before the class, I didn't really know much about college, so I blew it off,” Jahn said. “But now, after going to here and to Seattle Central, I just felt like college is the right place for me.”

Hardy is looking to expand Inspiration Workshops to Meeker Middle School next year. And if she can get more funding beyond the King County Best Starts for Kids, she wants to expand it even further.