Bryant Elementary and Helena College partner together to show kids a world of possibilities

Posted at 5:23 PM, Feb 28, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-29 17:31:06-05

HELENA — Bryant Elementary is right across the road from Helena College. Two groups of differently aged students, learning very different things. Or so you would think. Two sisters, one working at Helena College and the other at Bryant, created a program that gets fifth-graders into college classrooms.

“They think it’s a ways off but it comes up before they know it. And so, just seeing that education is so accessible to them and there are so many different routes they can take is really just the most amazing thing to see,” says fifth-grade teacher at Bryant Elementary, Taylor Hassler.

In its third year, the program provides a space for fifth graders to be honorary Helena college students. This all began when Executive Director of General Education and Transfer at Helena College, Robin Kiesling, reached out to her sister Taylor Hassler when Hassler began teaching fifth grade at Bryant.

“My sister and I who, Taylor, who’s a teacher, we’re talking about how neat it would be to do something with an adopting, sort of adopting a fifth-grade class, and exposing them to all the different things for careers that as they’re thinking and going into middle school they can start exploring,” says Kiesling.

Every month, the students from Bryant take on a new subject such as math, English, or art at Helena College. When MTN visited, the fifth graders were taking part in science lessons. One group was creating goo while the other was utilizing microscopes and taking a look at brains and eyeballs.

The classes give them the opportunity to see what learning at a collegiate level looks like. Kiesling says that fifth grade is a great time for these students to be exposed to new possible career paths as they enter into middle school and eventually high school.

“I think the more exposure we can give to these students I think the better they’re suited to go on in their education. And that’s really what we’re trying to do is just expose them to all sorts of different things to see what they like,” says Kiesling.

At the end of the year, the Bryant students get to “graduate” where parents and family get to watch them receive an honorary degree.