April 28, 2005 • Volume 13 Number 16

Students of Casey Fullerton '02 stand in the "Boston College" classroom at the KIPP DC: Key Academy.

BC Plays a KEY Role in Washington, DC, School

Anyone who walks into Casey Fullerton's homeroom at the KIPP DC: KEY Academy, a grade 5-8 charter school in Washington, DC, will have little trouble figuring out which college she attended.

The 2002 Lynch School of Education grad has brought a touch of the Heights to the room, festooning it with BC memorabilia including several t-shirts - such as the popular "Superfan" - mugs, glasses, pens, pencils, pennants, posters, a picture frame containing BC postcards of Conte Forum and Alumni Stadium, a license plate, a hockey stick, and a gigantic homemade "Ever to Excel" sign.

Fullerton's style of decor isn't unique to KEY Academy: Each homeroom is named for the alma mater of its teacher, who is encouraged to use materials related to his or her old school as part of the furnishings.

But Fullerton says there's an important purpose behind the collegiate motif at KEY, which stands for "Knowledge Empowers You" and is part of the Knowledge is Power Program network of charter schools. The idea is to get the students - many of who are from lower-income families - thinking about college early on in their academic years, she explains, and in the process inspire their academic achievement.

It's a mission the Rhode Island native, who teaches sixth grade reading and language arts, takes to heart beyond bringing maroon and gold knick-knacks to the classroom. She's used a set of BC brochures for incoming students as samples for a unit on persuasive writing, and invited one of her former BC roommates to talk to her class.

"I wanted to make sure the kids had a strong understanding of what opportunities truly lie ahead," she said.

Fullerton, who began teaching at KEY last year, says she can't help but be encouraged by the response of her "Boston College" students.

"After my ex-roommate's talk, three girls came over to tell me and her that they will be attending BC in the future," said Fullerton. "I would love to take my kids to visit the campus - maybe one day!"

-Sean Smith

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