At only 9 years old, Jose Maria Tovar already knows what he wants to be when he grows up – an architect. Everyone at Guzman Elementary in Donna where Tovar goes to school knows it too.
The third grader made it clear when he came to campus on a Monday decked out in a nice shirt, tie, hard hat and a roll of paper that resembled a blueprint. “I want to be an architect because I want to design buildings like apartments, restaurants and other businesses,” Tovar said.
Tovar and several other K-5 grade students dressed up that day to kick off the school’s new Success Suits Me program. “I like to dress up nice and wear suits,” fourth grader Jordan Quiñones said. “It makes me feel special.”
The school got the idea from the previous year. “Last year we had students and teachers dress in professional attire for one day and we noticed a big difference,” Curriculum Specialist Maria Elena Peña said. “They were walking straighter and with much more confidence. We really liked what we were seeing and feeling.”
So, to continue the momentum, Guzman Elementary launched the Success Suits Me program. Once a month, students, teachers, administrators and staff are encouraged to wear career-type clothing. The turnout for the month of September was impressive.
“We got great results,” Peña said. “We saw a lot of our boys in blazers, ties, vests and slacks. Our girls were in really nice dresses. Our female teachers came in suits and high heels while the men wore ties.”
The adults made it a point to compliment the students which made the day even more extraordinary. “The students were telling their teachers that they felt important so that’s a confidence booster right there,” Peña said. “It’s wonderful to see the kids with this kind of confidence and an attitude that they can do anything they set their minds to.”
The teachers also noticed that the children were behaving differently. “Something happens when the students are dressed up,” Peña said. “They walk instead of run and display good posture by sitting up straight. So, there was a positive change in their behavior.”
The children were also trying harder in the classroom. “Everything is inter-related where they feel like they’re professionals and want to do better by meeting their goals,” Peña said. “That’s what this program is about. We want to inspire them to start thinking about college and a career. What better way to experience what it feels like to have a career than by dressing the part.”
The school hopes to get more student involvement as the news about the program spreads across the campus.