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Teachers at Bloomington's Irving School, along with parents and alumni, should go to the head of the class for their extra efforts to encourage students to think about college.

Setting goals is important, even at an early age. Picturing themselves attending college could even motivate youngsters to work harder and challenge themselves in school.

Irving School isn't the only school that encourages elementary school pupils to think about college. But those efforts take on extra importance because of the neighborhood served by Irving. More than 70 percent of students at Irving come from low-income households, according to the state school report card.

Children from homes in which no family members have a college degree might not think college is for them - even if parents or teachers talk about the importance of a college education.

But the efforts at Irving School can help students overcome adversity.

Little things can mean a lot.

Even something as simple as posting pennants from colleges that former Irving School students have attended can make a difference. The pennants show young students that others with similar backgrounds have continued their education beyond high school. It makes a dream look more like a possibility.

The relationships children build with Illinois State University students through a mentoring program also helps make college more real. The College Mentors for Kids program even includes trips to campus.

Irving teachers have shown their commitment to their pupils extends beyond the classroom by creating a scholarship fund with fund-raisers and payroll deductions.

With this extra effort, the Irving staff should be able to add more college pennants to the walls in years to come.

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