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Asylum Hill Church to Host Immigrant Advocate


HARTFORD — Champions of immigrant and refugee’s rights will gather at Asylum Hill Congregation Church this June to hear a keynote address from Mandy Manning, the 2018 National Teacher of the Year.

Manning will deliver the keynote at a forum focusing on the problems and triumphs of immigrant and refugee students. Manning has spent the year advocating for refugee and immigrant teens.

The event will be held on June 9 at 11:45 a.m. in the church 814 Asylum Ave.

Contributed Photo:
Mandy Manning

The Council of Chief State School Officers praised Manning for her exceptional work in helping children to “overcome their fears and seek out new experiences.”

In her classroom, Manning emphasizes connections between her students and the community helping them to process trauma, celebrate their home countries and culture, and learn about their new community. When she was interviewed on CBS This Morning last year, Manning said she loves teenagers because “there’s so much possibility all the time.”

Two leaders in working with immigrants and refugees in Connecticut will respond to Mandy’s  remarks: Chris George, executive director of Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services, a New Haven nonprofit that helps to resettle refugees throughout the state; and Homa Naficy, executive director of The American Place at the Hartford Public Library, which provides a range of services, including ESL classes and citizenship preparation, to immigrants and refugees.

George, like Manning, began his career as a Peace Corps volunteer. Manning served in Armenia and George in Oman. Naficy, on the other hand, was born in Paris to Iranian parents and was named Connecticut Immigrant of the Year in 2001.

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Mothers United to Hold Forum on Families and Trauma


HARTFORD — Mothers United Against Violence will hold a forum on May 23 about families living with trauma.

The free event will be from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Parker Memorial Community Center at 2621 Main St.

Families will get the opportunity to share their experiences coping with trauma and how they have been able to remain hopeful for a better future for their families and their community, organizers said.

The event will feature performances by Lance James and Youth Impact. Catering will be provided by Refined Twist.

Mothers United is a community organization in Greater Hartford that seeks to provide spiritual support, closure and social justice for victims and families impacted by violence.

The group is a part the Community Safety Coalition, which comprises of several local nonprofit agencies responding to the rising incidents of crime in Hartford. These organizations are working together to address the increased violence in the city.

Organizers said the goal is to create healthy communities through the reduction of urban violence and trauma in Hartford.

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East Hartford Summer Camp Invites Applications


EAST HARTFORD — East Hartford Parks and Recreation is now accepting applications for six different summer camps.

The summer camps are open to children and teens from three-years-old to 15-years-old. The camp will be held at different sites throughout the town  and will begin the week of June 24 and run for seven weeks, except for Camp Munchkin, which is for three and four year olds.

All summer campers will participate in a variety of activities including theme weeks, arts and crafts, sports, nature activities and more. Some campers will visit pools, where they will receive free swimming instructions. There will also be off-site field trips at places such as Jump Off, CT Science Center, Dinosaur State Park, bowling, batting cages and movies.

Breakfast and lunch will be provided for all campers through the Summer Meals program.

Camp brochures are available at the Parks and Recreation office at 50 Chapman Place or online.

Registration is available on a weekly basis for all camps. Pre-registration is required for all camps at the Parks and Recreation office.

For more information, call Parks and Recreation at 860-291-7160 or visit www.easthartfordct.gov.

Posted in East Hartford, Hartford, YouthComments (0)

Hartford Agency Receives $2 Million for Reentry Programs


HARTFORD — The Community Partners in Action recently received a $2 million grant to help reintegrated ex-felons into the Greater Hartford community.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration awarded the five-year grant to the agency to offer reentry services for individuals diagnosed with substance use disorders or co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders.

Congressman John Larson applauded the award, saying that too many formerly incarcerated citizens are struggling to find the resources necessary to put them on a path to success.

“These programs are critical to helping citizens recently released from prison access basic needs, along with employment and treatment services that will help them live independently and contribute to our society,” Larson said.

This is the first SAMHSA grant for Community Partners in Action, said Beth Hines, the organization’s executive director.  The agency is a statewide organization that promotes recovery and restoration for those who have been incarcerated.

She said the award will expand the agency’s Resettlement program, which lost 80 percent of its funding in 2016 when the state eliminated its non-residential programs.

The Resettlement program, Hines said, will now be able to serve an additional 275 people returning home from prison. The program will provide pre- and post-release case management services.

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Real Art Ways Debuts Documentary on First Filmmaker


HARTFORD — When Alice Guy-Blaché completed her first film in 1896 Paris, she became the first female filmmaker. But she was erased from the history books.

Until now.

A new film directed by Pamela B. Green and narrated by Jodi Foster tells the untold story of Guy-Blaché . It’s called, Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché . It follows her rise from a Gaumont secretary to her appointment as head of production a year later, and her subsequent illustrious 20-year career in France and the United States. It also details her founding of her own studio and as a writer.

The documentary is 103 minutes long and is considered to be a “vital effort to right past wrongs and fix the messes made by men.” Be natural will open at Real Art Ways on May 24 and will run until May 30. Check her for show times here.

Posted in A & E, Hartford, Neighborhood, TravelComments (0)

Know Good Market Returns for Fourth Season in Parkville


HARTFORD — Hartford residents will have a chance to sample a variety of cuisines on Thursday at this year’s Know Good out-door market in Parkville.

The Know Good Market will be held on May 9 at 30 Bartholomew Ave. — between 1429 Park St. and the Tradehouse on Bartholomew Ave — in Hartford from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The market, now in its fourth season, is on the second Thursday of every month from May through November with a holiday bazaar on Dec. 7. The Company — Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner — sponsors the family-friendly event.

Photo: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

This year’s market will feature returning favorites like Samba Cuisine, Mercado, Craftbird, Taco Tequila and a rotating cast of greater Hartford’s best street food vendors. Hog River Brewing Co. will be open next door as well as local artisan and craft vendors purveyors.  A host of local DJ’s will be back on the loading docks stage as well.

Organizers said the market is designed to create space for a shared cultural experience in Hartford and offer an experience of raw community celebration.

The “community focused environment”, they said,  welcomes about one thousand patrons every month and seeks to engage the community’s heart and stomach.

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Study: Hartford Ranks High Among Millennials As Best Place to Live


HARTFORD — Millennials like Hartford.

That’s according to a new study by real estate search portal Homes.com, which ranked the top 50 US metropolitan areas to live for Millennials (ages 20 to 34), Generation X (35-54), and Baby Boomers (55 to 74).

Hartford was ranked as the eight best city to live in after Orlando, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Boston and Washington, D.C., respectively. Hartford beat St. Louis, providence and Seattle, according to the study.

The ranking came after averaging scores on Millennial share of the local population, entry-level jobs available per 100,000 people among other factors.

Hartford’s top 10 Millennial ranking was driven by the fact that there were more than 5,500 entry-level jobs available per 100,000 residents.

For Generation Xers, the city ranked 21. And it was based on factors such as school quality, generation population share and management jobs per 100,000.

For Babyboomers, the city ranked 18. The rank came after factoring share of local population, healthcare availability and retiree tax-friendliness.

Posted in Hartford, NeighborhoodComments (0)

We Need a New Approach to Educating Connecticut Children


By Matthew Borrelli
M

To Beth Bye, Connecticut Commissioner of Early Childhood:

My goal is to present data that supports the conclusion that there is a cadre of families and children that for decades has not been able to benefit from a regular education. The evidence will support the position that the present Pre-K-12 structure of our schools has exhausted its ability to meet the needs of these children. That their needs are as well defined, and unique as those which were the bases for the enactment CGS 10-76, the special education law. That a response equal in intensity, is required to remedy their plight.

I put together these talking points to hopefully show you that the present Pre-K-12 system is working well for those children that we commonly describe as middle-class (School Synchronized). Conversely the same system has for 40 years failed a cohort of children throughout the state in both suburbs and cities that have been labeled lower-socio-economic (School Separated).

I wish to present a review of the many interventions that the state and local towns have implemented to change this outcome, which sadly have all been to no avail for this cohort

I then wish then to speak about the role of special education, which came about in the late 60s and at the same time, the beginning of Choice programs and what effect they have had on outcomes.

I wish to recalibrate the definitions that we use, and to correct the notion of dealing with Correlation as Causation

Although much of this is apropos to general education; I hope to drill down through the facts to the basis of how children learn in their earliest years and show the correlation between home and school as the link and the linchpin for successful learning.

(School Synchronization vs School Separation)

I would also like to review the actualities in two towns, one in West Hartford and one in Bloomfield which I think will prove some of my contentions. Last, I wish to talk about a concept I have deemed PAINES and how school learning relates to children being ready, and willing so we can make them able.

Historical outcomes of school achievement:

  • All national and state testing shows achievement is laddered along economic lines.
  • All towns in Connecticut have shown achievement that fluctuates in a narrow channel, not one town has ever shown consistent growth over a period of many years that would take it out of its District Reference Group.
  • When skills are tested at the high school through either the SAT or the CAPT in alliance districts; only 30 percent of the students achieve at grade level expectation yet 90 percent of the students graduate.
  • Two thirds of the students entering community college require remedial courses prior to taking community college level courses.
  • The ratio of on goal to non-goal students has been approximately 70/30 passing on goal in the suburbs and 30/70 in the urban near urban centers. This has not changed in 40 years.

Interventions

Over the years the state has intervened trying to create a rationale for this bifurcation of scores looking at the possible reasons why this disparity exists:

  • Horton versus Meskill more equal spending would create more equal results
  • Brown versus Topeka, Sheff in Connecticut, racial balance could be the answer
  • Hundreds of changes in curriculum
  • Changes in instructional methodology and the addition of technology
  • Variations of class size
  • More minority representation
  • The creation and additional funding in a group of towns called Alliance Districts
  • Nutrition programs
  • Extended day, school year
  • Rigorous teacher evaluations
  • The introduction of resource rooms

All of the above related to some correlation, but none have created any change in the outcomes because none of them apparently have been causal.

Town exemplars

I would like to show two towns as examples:

The first is Bloomfield; this is a town whose population is majority white but whose school population is almost totally minority. Its board of education is totally minority. Its superintendent who is an excellent superintendent is minority as are many if not most of the administrators. Minorities represent a large number of the teaching staff as well as minorities representing most of the ancillary staff, so we apparently have a situation where race is not a factor and racial bias should not seem to be applicable.

When we look at Bloomfield’s scores we have the same scoring as  towns like Manchester or Vernon with approximately 40 percent of the children on goal and 60 percent not.  The ratios of on goal to other is the same as in  Manchester and Vernon with these towns being a much more racially mixed as a town, school system and faculty. I believe we can argue successfully that the striations in test scores in a town like Bloomfield, which parallels the other alliance districts and is not based on race, it is not based on the lack of minority representation, although they do face racial problems in the sense that some of the highest scoring children are demeaned with terms like “what are you doing are, you trying to be white?”

The next town is West Hartford and truly a tale of two cities. Crossing Farmington Avenue is a little bit like the Mason-Dixon Line. The north end has always been a highly professional, highly educated, highly scoring element of town. In the 70s and 80s this area was a strong blue-collar middle-class community and then in the 80s as the real estate market changed a lower socioeconomic group emerged and the disparity between North and South scores exacerbated.

West Hartford is a town where all things, all resources, all processes were completely evenly divided. West Hartford did not hire a South end Principal or North end Principal or teacher or aide or custodian. There was a single West Hartford standard. There was a single evaluation process of teachers. Everything was the same systemically North and South, and yet the scores always showed a difference. There is a cohort of children that we could not educate, and all of the interventions listed above did nothing to change the ratios because they were not causal.

Change that had effect

The only significant systemic change came in the late 60s through the federal government and we should be proud to be one of the first states that passed a Special Education law CGS 10-76. It was the first time that we recognized that the school system at its best had limits and that there were children based on genetic organic and neurological reasons that were outside of the norm.

The term of art used at that time was these children were “significantly different from the norm.” We saw the causes through medical eyes and recognized that these children were well beyond the scope of our ability to deal with. A whole new system was developed and it has produced a very different kind of result over the last 40 years than in the prior time.

Questionable change

At the same time, the idea of “choice” raised its specter. It was an action taken by successful students’ families to put them in a different context than their neighborhood school would provide. As neighborhoods changed and more needy learners moved in, the children who were more able wanted to exit. It was the beginning of the class flight.

This movement has grown by leaps and bounds, choice has been expanded, charter schools have been developed, magnet schools and been offered and the results are very interesting. Applicants’ families have better scores than their non-applicant families left at the public schools.

This success has been attributed to the fact that privately run businesses, beautifully architected schools, and themes make a difference. The success though has not been in any way proven to be a product of curriculum or architecture or themes since all of those interventions have been tried for the last 40 years in the public schools and they have not worked.

Why do they appear to be working in this situation? The population quality? We have taken middle class families (school synchronized) out of poor neighborhoods and created a middle class school for them.

Cause

This brings us to what is causing learning and failure; and to the conclusion that the pre-K-12 system can only educate well those children who come to us ready and willing to learn (school synchronized).

If we look at who is learning, and, who would be learners in any school district, we would readily identify those typified as middle-class(S-Sync) like the children in your home and my home. This cadre of ready and willing children with middle-class values and upbringing would score on goal in any school system under any teacher in the state of Connecticut without a question. It doesn’t matter what the curriculum is, it doesn’t matter the age and beauty of the school. These kids are coming to a place called school, which is an extension of their lifestyle.

If you would look at your expectations about being a good daughter or son what you need to do to be good, to learn, we’d find clearly that there is a close relationship and commonality between their home and school. The closer the synchronization between the two, the closer to we come to having a 24/7 educational environment.  So much of what we do at home parallels what happens in school.

Now let’s take a look at the Latino child on Park Street. Most of the homes are probably parented by adults who are near literate to illiterate, many whom may be Spanish-speaking with some English. The neighborhood is Spanish-speaking. The ability to live in the community is easy. Now we bring that child to school and that child gets five hours a day, 180 days of English-speaking — a different lifestyle, a different class of education.

Many of the traits that are acceptable in the community are not acceptable at school. We even modify the immersion by speaking Spanish during the day. If you look at the separation between the home and community mores and the schools’, it is that difference that causes the educational domain to stop and start. It is not continuous as in a typical synchronized home. So in effect, the child is educated three hours a day in this school environment with almost no echoing after that and so when we look at why there is not a product that goes beyond language. It goes into lifestyle.

School separation

As I promised, let’s talk about young children.

I want to present the concept I call PAINES. Yes I claim that children are PAINES when we look at the learning process. We have to look at a total child: P physical, A for academics, I for intellect, N for neurological, E for emotional (how you see yourself) and S social (plays well with others). The paradigm is simple, if everything is normal, if you come to school meeting all of your developmental needs on target A = I.

Therefore if you are a typical child in the third grade you will be scoring on a third grade level. If you’re brighter than normal, you will score on a higher level.  If A doesn’t equal I we must ask why. What would cause an educational deficiency? And that’s where we get into (P) physical reasons (N) neurological reasons (learning disability) or it could be E) emotional poor self-concept or (S) social, the inability to get along with others –and this is how we think in special education.

So what we’re dealing with at the youngest age are two factors: home and school. Home provides the readiness through its lifestyle and its culture and language, its mobility and safety, medical and physical care, and in a safe environment what we presently call a middle-class environment(school synchronized), it creates a readiness to learn.

The family helps the child as its first educator. In many cases the mother is the primary teacher  and converts readiness to willingness, and in the best situation, eagerness to learn when that child enters school and school parallels and extends the home. We are extremely capable of making that child able, and in West Hartford and other suburban towns 70 percent of the kids come from those kinds of homes and they are successful; in Bloomfield only 40 percent, in  Manchester only 40 percent,  in Hartford 30-40 percent.

Yet all our efforts have been focused on the able (school) part. We now offer preschool universally, but the kids who are ready and willing would probably be no different in a half-day program than in a full-day program, but for the children from the other homes the need is vital. We developed resource rooms, but they are rooms for families who come to school. They are drop-in centers. They are not evangelical. They do not seek the missing families, (school separated).

I suggest to you your first step is to develop a program to seek out and evaluate these impoverished homes using the Special Ed model.

We need to service the causal element, which is the separated home life style.

I would ask you to look at programs like Gen-2 and prepare the way for a massive intervention which would probably need legal changes to intervene in these homes at the earliest age possible, given that the mother is the primary teacher. Illiterate mothers, who are under tremendous stress, families living in poverty, living in abusive settings cannot provide readiness, cannot make a child willing, and we have proven we cannot make that child able.

Even in a Greenwich there is that group of kids that the highest scoring system in Connecticut fails.

If you do not get into these homes there is no reason to believe anything will be different, because children who are coming to us unready become unwilling and stay unable. There is so much proof that curriculum instructional changes, architecture, STEM, all of those make learning for the willing learners more interesting, but children from school separated homes are unable to gain any benefit from these interventions.

The vision you must have is that we need to get into the homes more than we ever have in the past. We must educate, counsel and support the parents. We must also enact laws that protect these children.

We must train these primary teachers, (mothers) emotionally and educationally to be more able to play their parenting role; that plus a change in how we educate these children Pre-K =12 is what is required to fulfill our State’s obligation to offer every child an appropriate, free, public education.

Matthew Borrelli of Manchester is a longtime Connecticut educator who has served as an interim superintendent of schools in Bloomfield, Waterbury and Hartford school systems and has served in administrative capacities in a number of districts including South Windsor, West Hartford, New Haven and Hartford.

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Agency to Host Session on Business Access to Capital


HARTFORD — This summer, small business owners will have access to training that will help them grow.

Thanks to a partnership with the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving and the Boston-based organization, Inner City Capital Connections.

ICCC will host an information session on Wednesday, April 24 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Trinity College. The goal of the event is to inform and encourage business owners in Hartford to take advantage of the free program.

The ICCC will bring its 40-hour executive leadership program to Hartford for the first time this summer.

The program aims to help position small and medium sized businesses in economically distressed areas for long-term growth through capacity-building education, one on one coaching and access to capital.

The program will kick off with an all-day training seminar on May 29, followed by a series of online webinars where participants learn strategy, entrepreneurial finance, marketing, and capital options.

The program also offers one-on-one coaching with local and virtual mentors ranging from small business bankers to top consulting firms. The program culminates with a national conference in Boston this November where participants will connect with different capital providers.

Organizers said the program was designed for urban entrepreneurs. Businesses must have been in operation for at least two years to participate.

For those interested in attending the information session, register here.

Those who want to apply should apply here.

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Choral Group Offers Opportunities for High School Singers


HARTFORD — The New England-based choral group Voce will conduct a day-long program of intensive workshops, coaching and performance opportunities for high school singers prior to its final concert of the season.

The final concert will be on May 11, 7:30 p.m. at St. Patrick – St. Anthony Church, 285 Church St. in Hartford.

About 150 students are expected to participate in the program, which is sponsored by the Nicholas B. Mason Charitable Trust.

Organizers said this program will help students understand what it’s like to sing as a professional.

 “The program is designed to give students the opportunity to work directly with Voce Artistic Director Mark Singleton and Voce’s professional singers,” said Andrew Brochu, a choral teacher at Avon High School who sings with Voce as a tenor and serves as its Education Coordinator.

“Participating students, their choral teachers and Voce members will have a chance to hear and perform together. It is essentially a day of learning through collaboration. We hope that this festival shows students that they, their teachers and professional singers are all life-long learners.” 

The initiative, called the Voce Music Educators Festival, takes advantage of Voce’s large roster of music teachers who worked together to design the workshop. 

Voce’s concert on May 11, entitled “With OneVoice,” will close with individual performances by the student choirs and a finale featuring all of the students singing with Voce. 

Voce will perform works by Eric Whitacre, Ola Gjeilo, Paul Mealor and Ēriks Ešenvalds.  The concert will also premiere a setting of “Loch Lomond” commissioned by Voce from composer Michael Merrill. 

  Tickets can be purchased on-line at www.voceinc.org.

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