The Robinson Center was chosen to receive the 2003 Brotman Award for Instructional Excellence at the University of Washington!
Dr. Kathleen Noble’s Award Statement
For twenty-five years the Transition School (TS) and Early Entrance Program (EEP) of the Robinson Center for Young Scholars have been the means through which some of the brightest young students in Washington have skipped high school and entered the UW after 7th or 8th grade.
Each year we admit 16 students to TS, which compresses four or five years of secondary school into three academic quarters. Our students are ethnically and economically diverse, and not all come from intact or functional families, but their motivation, determination, and hard work enable most to graduate from TS and enter the UW (as “EEPers”) before they are 15 years old. Many might well have chosen to attend other institutions of higher education had they taken the more traditional route through high school. TS and EEP now set national and international standards for excellence in the educational acceleration of gifted young scholars.
More than 210 EEPers (94%) have graduated thus far, with one or more baccalaureate degrees in fields as diverse as Music, Classics, Biochemistry, Computer Science, and Dance. By UW standards our programs are tiny – but their impact is huge. Over the life of our programs we’ve nurtured two Rhodes Scholars, five Goldwater Scholars, three Dean’s and three Junior Medalists, three NASA Space Grant Scholars, three Bonderman Travel Fellows, and numerous University Scholars. Many EEPers have won Mary Gates Undergraduate Research Training Grants and other scholarships and awards for their academic work, and each quarter, at least half earn places on the Dean’s List.
How did this happen?
In TS and EEP, we – the faculty, staff, and teaching assistants- work together and we work hard to help students broaden their ideas about learning and achievement. We support them in pursuing their dreams, whether those dreams are to dance, to travel abroad, or to be the next generation of bioengineers. We want them to develop a concept of success that allows them to make mistakes and recover, to take risks and explore unfamiliar territory, and to appreciate the hard work that underlies creativity and accomplishment. We want them to acquire a solid working knowledge of who they are and want to become, and a set of values that enable them to succeed. We want them to let go of the need to be perfect while retaining the need to be excellent. We want them to learn how to set goals, complete tasks, and become lifelong learners. And perhaps most of all, we want them to develop compassion and concern for others, and to become excellent citizens of the world.
No comparable programs exist among our peer institutions or in other countries. Colleges and universities interested in starting early entrance programs consult us on a regular basis, and numerous national and international media including the New York Times, the Japan Times, and the Newshour on PBS have featured TS and EEP. Stories about our students often appear in local newspapers and on local television shows. Robinson Center faculty regularly conduct research about TS and EEP and thus far 21 students have served as research assistants on five different projects, all sharing authorship on articles that subsequently appeared in the leading scholarly journals in the field of gifted education.
TS and EEP are completely self-sustaining and we operate on a shoestring budget, yet students routinely call their TS classes and EEP support the best they’ve had at the university. Faculty and staff investment in students’ success is unparalleled. Even though most are part-time, all make an extraordinary effort to stay available to students to help them through their difficult Transition year, and students are encouraged to call us at home if they have questions or problems. And when Tsers become EEPers, these strong personal links support them as they pursue their individual undergraduate goals. We offer them a powerful and nurturing community through mentoring, tutoring, advising, teaching assistantships, research experience, and opportunities for play and recreation. We give students a home where they can help each other as well as themselves, and where they can trust the staff to have their best interests at heart throughout their education and beyond.
We love what we do and we love the students we are privileged to serve. With energy and focus, the Robinson Center faculty, staff, and students are redefining what it means to be an excellent undergraduate at the University of Washington.”