I read your excellent article on Take 5 (“Take 5 at 20,” March-April) and wanted to chime in with one more testimonial to the power and importance of the program. As a pre-med student in 1997, I completed a program titled “Methods of Bringing About Change in Modern Society.” During my Take 5 year I learned about Teach For America, the teacher corps that places recent college grads in our country’s most underserved urban classrooms.
After graduation I put medical school on hold and instead joined TFA. I taught science in West Baltimore and then North Philadelphia for four years before founding and serving as principal of KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) Philadelphia Charter School, an open-enrollment college preparatory middle school in one of America’s poorest urban zip codes.
To date, 100 percent of our 8th graders have earned acceptance into college preparatory high schools, and now in its sixth year our school continues to prove that demography does not define destiny.
We have been approved to open a second school this summer, KIPP West Philadelphia Prep, and we have plans to open eight more KIPP Philadelphia schools over the next six years. If we reach this goal, we will increase the number of students who are prepared for college in North and West Philadelphia by 36 percent.
As none of this would have happened if not for Take 5, I wanted to take an opportunity to thank the University for continuing to believe in the program. Imagine the possibilities if more universities offered programs like it.
Marc Mannella ’98
The writer is the CEO and founder of KIPP Philadelphia Schools.
I enjoyed your article on the Take 5 program being 20 years old, but in some ways, I think you undersold the program. The five-year option has existed at Rochester for more than 20 years. It’s just for the last 20 years, it’s been free.
I joined Rochester in the Class of ’63, but in my sophomore year, adjusted my schedule to graduate in 1964. This was largely at the recommendation of my father (a sociology professor at Colgate), but the option was listed in the catalog and supported by my advisor. Now that all is said and done, I recognize that I hurt my average (I’m not a good liberal arts student and I had special problems with my German class), but I do believe that the Rochester educators at that time were correct that I, as a chemical engineering major, should have a broader education.
So, give yourselves double credit:
1) For recognizing that a broader education is valuable for scientists and engineers;
2) For allowing this to happen tuition free for the last 20 years.
Charles Bash ’64
Editor’s note: While the Take 5 program has been offered as a tuition-free fifth year to all undergraduates in Arts, Sciences, and Engineering since the mid-1980s, Mr. Bash is correct in pointing out that the University had earlier programs aimed at allowing students to broaden their liberal arts education. In particular, the former College of Engineering and Applied Science offered an “Enriched Program” option that, with the consent of academic advisors, allowed students to extend their studies over five years. Of course, students were expected to pay the tuition for the fifth year.
An editing error in a tribute to Pei-heng Chiang ’52 in the March-April issue resulted in our publishing the wrong date for Chiang’s death. She died Jan. 3, 2008. We apologize for the error.
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