Iowa Alumni Magazine | December 2007 | People

Hawkeye Dreams: Kaylene Treslo

By Kelly Stavnes
Teacher Kylene Treslo instills in her students an appreciation of the UI and all its myriad opportunities.

Treslo

A ten-foot-tall inflatable Herky towers over the third-graders as they shuffle into Miss Treslo's classroom. Inside, black and gold pennants, posters, and banners cover the walls — and not just because Kylene Treslo, 05BA, has an undying love for the Hawkeyes. It's because she wants her young students to realize they potentially have a future at the UI, too.

Last year, Treslo started teaching at Anne Fox Elementary, a school in Hanover Park, Illinois, that's performed at or below district and state standards for decades. With learning issues, economic barriers, and problems at home that impact their ability to do well at school, most students are at risk for dropping out of higher education later in life.

Not if Treslo and her fellow teachers can help it. Thanks to their efforts, the school became part of "No Excuses University," a national network of elementary schools that emphasize college as a positive, attainable goal for students who may not have otherwise considered it a realistic dream.

For her part, Treslo makes college more tangible for her class by incorporating the UI into lessons. Her students learn about the UI's history and campus, follow the Hawkeyes in various sports, and receive rewards for exemplary work with a chance to sit in the classroom's special "Iowa chair." They also have their own Hawkeye T-shirts and stuffed Herkys.

"My students may be the most dedicated nine-year-old Hawkeye fans in the universe," Treslo says of the third-graders, who bring Iowa-related news clips to class and often draw Herkys on each others' birthday cards. "They talk about succeeding in school so they can one day be Hawkeyes."

So far, the strategy appears promising. Test scores already show improvement and students are performing at increased levels. Treslo's ultimate hope is that many of her students will become the first in their families to attend college.

The latest in a family of educators, Treslo always knew she wanted to teach. When she received the opportunity to meet a need at Anne Fox, she felt lucky to fulfill her dream in such a rewarding way. Says Treslo: "It's been wonderful passing my passion for Iowa on to my students."