3rd-grade teacher gives students college T-shirts to inspire big dreams originally appeared on goodmorningamerica.com
A third grade teacher from Texas is sparking dreams of higher education at her school.
Margaret Olivarez, an educator at Copperfield Elementary School in Texas, told "Good Morning America" that her students come from "very low-income" families.
When she noticed the kids didn't have shirts to wear for the school's weekly "College Shirt Wednesdays," she asked universities across the nation to donate them.
"I want [the students] to know that the possibility of getting into college is there," Olivarez said. "Nothing should hold them back of their dreams."
Olivarez said she started sending emails asking for T-shirts to be donated to her third grade class.
More than 30 colleges including Duke, Texas State, Barry, Notre Dame, University of Minnesota, Dartmouth, Texas A&M and the Air Force Academy sent over shirts for Copperfield's 425 students, ages pre-K through 5th grade.
Now each Wednesday, the entire school wears a college T-shirt.
"They look at the color and some look at the mascot on the shirt and they'll pick out which ones they like," Olivarez said, adding that she gives lessons about each college campus.
"I show them where they can end up if they stay in school and get good grades," she said. "[The parents], a lot of them haven't finished high school so to see their child is inspired to go to a university--it gives the opportunity to dream big and reach that goal."
Cynthia Cuartas, a parent to three children who attend Copperfield, said she witnessed Olivarez's project grow larger than ever imagined.
"It is truly a testament to the power of action behind an idea," said Cuartas, who is mom to Santina, 10, Absalon, 8 and Sofia, 6. "My oldest, Santina, was one of the first interviewed to share her student perspective on the project. She loved to see first hand how doing the footwork yielded results."
She went on, "As a parent, when my children were bringing home their college shirts and telling me about 'College Shirt Wednesdays,' it was another positive concept that could peak interest in all of the kids and start the conversation about future plans."
Copperfield principal Georgie Arenaz told "GMA" that Olivarez has made a difference in the community.
"She's planting that seed that can go anywhere," Arenaz said. "She's teaching students about different universities, about college across the country...not just the students in her class, it's all the students in our school."