Rene Roselle, clinical professor working at Bulkeley High School, wrote in the school’s application for this award, “In preparing a nomination for the Richard W. Clark Award for Exemplary Partner School Work, I thought ‘I wish the committee could spend some time with me at Bulkeley High School and then they could see.’ The magic of a partnership is hard to put into words.
“Bulkeley has approximately 1,500 students in grades 9-12. Students represent 42 different countries; 18 different languages can be heard in the halls. The school is approximately 69 percent Latino, 23 percent black and 8 percent white. The city struggles to meet the needs of children living in poverty and learning English while trying to test well on standardized tests,” Roselle continued.
“Administrative turnover, restructuring and resource allocation pressure us. Hartford has had seven superintendents in 10 years, three acting and four appointed. The city has endured state takeovers and failed bids to privatize,” Roselle wrote. “Through it all, the University of Connecticut Neag School of Education and Hartford have remained strongly committed to each other. The Neag School has placed 157 students at Bulkeley High School in four years and 400 students across our three-year program in the same amount of time. That is what we call a critical mass!”
A teacher preparatory academy, such as Bulkeley’s, serves as an example of long-term and in-depth partner work.
Established at the high school in collaboration with the Neag School, the academy provides support for current students and hope for the future. Its primary purpose is to recruit, support and prepare students interested in education.
The goal of this pathway is to provide a rigorous curriculum and field experiences through meaningful, creative and engaging learning opportunities. The academy emphasizes the importance of collaboration between a student and their teacher in the learning process, demonstrating best practices and ensuring all students are ready for postsecondary opportunities.
The academy option opened Aug. 31, 2009, to students who were entering grades 11 and 12 at Bulkeley and completed the application process. The option is part of Hartford’s All Choice initiative.
As the first program in Connecticut that pointedly focuses on preparing high school students to become teachers, implications may be far-reaching for Hartford and the state. In a time of teacher shortages, the program hopes to increase the pool of highly qualified candidates who will be able to fill the vacancies in critical content areas, increase the diversity of applicants and encourage students to return for careers in the city of Hartford as educators or other professionals who will benefit the community.