Former Mayor John Fabrizi and fellow school administrators Michael Testani and Peter Ziegler head Superintendent of Schools Paul Vallas’ High School Transformation Team. Vallas, the education turnaround specialist, issued a call to action upon his appointment in January to prepare students for college as part of his modernization efforts adopted by the Board of Education. Fabrizi, Testani and Ziegler have penned an essay that highlights the work to poise students for future growth with a focus on relationships with area colleges. The essay follows:
When Paul Vallas looks at the city’s high schools, he sees great and untapped potential. He has a vision for schools that are engaging for students and their families. He has a vision for schools that meet the economic, social, and civic demands of the 21st century. He has a vision for schools that prepare students for success in life.
To achieve this vision, he has assembled the High School Transformation Team to reform Bridgeport’s Public High Schools. With the support of the Board of Education, and educators throughout the city’s high schools, the transformation is well under way.
Since Mr. Vallas was appointed superintendent, the city high schools have instituted a number of new initiatives and opportunities for students, including, but not limited to, collaborative relationships with the University of Bridgeport, Housatonic Community College, Sacred Heart University, Fairfield University, and Southern Connecticut State University, with additional plans to increase collaboration with St. Vincent’s College and Bridgeport Hospital.
These collaborative arrangements are symbiotic–the institutions of higher education have access to the city’s schools to provide authentic clinical experiences for the next generation of teachers, counselors, and social workers. The city’s schools get much-needed extra instructional support in classrooms through graduate interns, student teachers, and other college-student field experiences. And, the city’s high school seniors get to take college classes, on college campuses, at no cost to the student. Mr. Vallas calls it a “win-win-win” situation. It is already happening–here’s the breakdown:
* Dual Enrollment/Early College
* 73 of the city’s high school seniors are enrolled at Housatonic Community College this Fall, taking classes for high school and college credit.
* 5 Bassick High School students will spend part of their day on the Campus of Fairfield University, taking courses alongside college freshmen.
* 3 city students will be enrolled in dual-credit courses at the University of Bridgeport
* 28 city students have already earned three transferable college credits at Sacred Heart University, over the Summer recess.
Additionally, a number of new initiatives are in place that will allow students to gain certification in employment-ready skill areas during and after the school day.
• BAYM will pilot an after-school for-credit program at Central High School that will allow students to earn credits after school while they build their own computer and learn to repair and service computer technologies. Students will have the opportunity to train for and earn industry-standard IT certifications. And, it is expected that the program will evolve into a school-based-enterprise, providing low-cost computer repair services to the community.
• CISCO – one of two industry-standard computer networking platforms, will train city educators to deliver a curriculum that certifies students for entry-level jobs in computer networking systems, and allows them to gain college and employment skills while earning high school credit.
• More than 50 area businesses have agreed to host student work-study interns, who will gain valuable employment skills in local small and large businesses, while earning high school credit for completing unpaid business internships.
• The high school automotive mechanics programs have been re-designed over the summer. Students in these programs will now learn highly marketable automotive skills while gaining college credit through cooperative arrangements with Housatonic and Gateway Community Colleges.
There has been an upgrade to the core academic areas of English, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies. Double-dosing and re-teach initiatives have been set in place, allowing additional instructional time in select core areas to allow students more time to master core knowledge and skills. A credit recovery program has been established to enable students to recover course credit during the school year that they have previously not completed.
Paul Vallas, in collaboration with the Board of Education, has a vision for Bridgeport’s high schools, and that vision is already a reality for many of the city’s students. This fall, schools are on their way to being more engaging for students, parents, and the community. Stay tuned for updates as the transformation continues and expands.
For further information and questions contact John Fabrizi at 203-275-1509.