GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg offered 48 students at a District junior high a free ride to GW when they begin applying to college in five years.
Trachtenberg spent an hour last month with seventh and eighth graders at Northwest Washington’s Paul Junior High School as part of Teach for America Week.
The students thought he would teach a math lesson, but instead he offered them a tuition-free GW education.
He said, however, that the offer is not without limits – students must first be accepted to GW on the merit of their high school records and test scores.
Rhoda Fischer, special assistant to the president, said Trachtenberg’s promise of a free college education is an investment in the city’s future and an example to other District organizations.
“He hopes this will be an example to other institutions and corporations,” Fischer said.
Paul Junior High opened three weeks late this fall after roof repairs kept it and many other District schools from opening on time. Two weeks after it opened its doors, Paul closed again for more roof repairs. The school did not reopen until Oct. 27, according to a Washington Post article.
Trachtenberg said the Paul students inspired him because they are willing to learn amidst the confusion they faced this fall.
“They gave you faith. These youngsters missed school because of roof problems. They were moving from building to building, yet they were bright and attentive,” he said.
Natalie Gordon, a seventh-grade English teacher at Paul, said the students were excited to receive Trachtenberg’s offer.
“They always do their work and this offer is even more incentive for them. It’s a greater opportunity to seek a college education. Some of them may have been concerned about going to college because of financial reasons,” Gordon said.
“Some thought they could not go to a college as prestigious as GW. Right now, there is no obstacle as long as they continue to do their work. We can tell them they have this scholarship to work for if they get out of line,” Gordon said.
“I told them it would cost about $150,000 . I said that if you go on to graduate from high school and are admitted to George Washington on your merits, we will do what it takes to get you the resources,” Trachtenberg said in The Post.
“I am trying to inspire kids to press on with their studying,” he said.
The University offers four-year scholarships to 10 outstanding District public school students annually through the 21st Century Scholars program.
Trachtenberg said he will not visit other schools in the District to make this offer because “I can’t afford it.”