- The team consisting of Bassick’s principal, teachers, parents, and community members that visited Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School in the Bronx in December met and unanimously decided they want to move forward in exploring Bassick’s ability to become a true community school. Meetings with different constituencies have started with the goal of having a series of exploration meetings facilitated by community school experts in March 2017. CommPACT will be supporting “knowledge sharing” sessions to all stakeholders (community, parents, administrators and teachers) over the next few months.
- Three of the original Freedom Riders, Dion Diamond, Joan Browning and Rev. Reginald Green, spoke at Bassick to kick off Black History Month. They told their stories of how they became active in the civil rights movement and of some of their experiences. They shared photos that also spoke volumes. They were asked to compare their activism to issues of today. They encouraged the youth to know their history, to vote, and to stand up against discrimination of any sort. This is part of our community partnership work and came about because of Wiley Mullins, CEO of Uncle Wiley’s Seasoning, who sits on the Bridgeport Public Education Fund. Seven classes came to the library for an intimate experience with these three history makers. All three are bonded through their experiences. All three were jailed as a result of their activism. Students asked about how their families dealt with this since many found out through reporters that their children had been jailed. Students in attendance were referred to as the next Freedom riders by the guest presenters. A history lesson students will remember.
- Bassick has started to host monthly Community Collaboratory meetings. The kick-off meeting on January 25 met with overwhelming success with 30 people from across widely different sectors coming. This is a gathering of all those in our community who are working with students and families. Our community partners all provide important pieces to fostering student success. But often it is hard to know all that is going on and to create a strong collective impact. The collaboratory is designed to connect the dots, build opportunities, strengthen the networks of people doing great work, and to help community partners be embedded in the fabric of the school. The format was exceedingly well received and geared to providing networking, showcasing best practices and building pathways to maximize collective impact.
- CommPACT continues to support the Agents of Change program. January kicked off a 3 month weekly teen leadership program. Concurrently CommPACT will help support a parent leadership and advocacy against violence program.
- The Real Dads Forever fatherhood initiative, with facilitator Doug Edwards, graduated a class on November 22. At graduation, Terri Williams, Department of Corrections, spoke to the group about the vital role of men in the lives of children recognizing each one in the class has committed to learning more and being better able to create healthy relationships with families and with all children in our community, including non-biological relationships of being nurturing men. Each of the “dads” shared what they had learned. Telly Martin’s family attended including one of his sons who was home from college. He told the group that while he is proud of his children and their choices and lives, through this program he was surprised with how much he learned that he can share with his family and other men. Three of the men had perfect attendance.
Bassick alumni Virgilio Lopez Jr., Vice President and Sr. Market Manager at People’s United Bank
Over 60 ninth grade students were inspired by Bassick alumni Virgilio Lopez Jr. On March 30, 2016 Virgilio told his story and shared about his own struggles, asking the question of students, “What will be your story?” He shared about how lives change on decisions each person makes. He pointed out the windows to areas he lived in and streets he roamed. He told a parallel story of his life and the life of one of his friends. Students were mesmerized as he told the story of his friend Lulu (Luis Gonzalez), a highly talented athlete with scholarship opportunities, confident, good looking and very popular. Virgilio also said that Lulu was defiant. “While most of the time he was easy to get along with there were times when Lulu crossed the line with teachers and kids. He had that side to him.”On February 10, 1990 Virgilio found out how life can change in an instant. That was the night that he went to a party and came home to get a phone call that Lulu had died from being shot outside of the Vega Alta grocery store, owned by Lulu’s parents at 1160 State Street. He was just 16. It remains an unsolved murder but Virgilio and his friends will always suspect that October 30, 1989 may have been the beginning of Lulu’s demise. That was a night that all his friends were running the streets. It was mischief night so they were egging cars and people. They suddenly realized they were being followed and were accosted at gunpoint. Lulu talked back to the gunman, in his defiant way. Lulu didn’t make it to ring dance, prom or graduation. He carries a photo of Lulu on his cell phone and the students were eager to see the face of this young man they had learned a little about.
Virgilio shared a little about his home life and what he saw as many “contradictions.” He was told to do one thing and told about values but that was often not what the adults around him did. He did go on to college. He wasn’t well informed and he passed up valuable scholarships. He and a friend went to Rutgers where he had another life changing event. This time it was because of working in the cafeteria. He got to know some of the kitchen staff and remarked on how they seemed happy and didn’t cuss, though he would consider their jobs monotonous and very hard. They took him aside and told him that he needed to believe in more than himself and needed to live a principled life. He later went to UConn to finish his degree but he left Rutgers with a deeper understanding of who he was and what he valued. Today he sees his job and his life as” being in service.”
He challenged students, “What will your story be 4 years from now? 8 years? 12 years? What would you tell students like you if you could come back? Would you be candid and honest? Will you finish shit race or will you drop out and call it quits? Will you show up? Will you be indifferent, defiant or selfish?”
He said, “Every mistake you have ever made is an opportunity to learn from.”
He oversees all the Bridgeport branches of the bank. At one, he realized that is where he and his mom would spend at least a half hour in line once a month to cash an assistance check. Today he manages the staff there. What a difference. He shared what he looks for when he interviews for a job and listed enthusiasm as number one.
This speaking event has come about in partnership with Eileen Lopez-Cordone who is a Bassick graduate (as well as Board Member of Bridgeport Public Education Fund, founder of the Greater Bridgeport Latino Network, and in Community Relations for UI). She is working with us to put together a team of Bassick alumni committed to expanding the vision of students regarding opportunities and their future.
- CommPACT is currently working with the team of Bassick administrators (principal/assistant principals) to develop a “CommPACT Academy” room in the main building for community and parent engagement and to support the initiatives of the three academies (Arts, Business and STEM). The CommPACT Academy room will provide career information using speakers from the community, expanding mentorships for students and using community resources for enriching academy work. Parents will be invited to all events. This will also include bringing in college and trade school information, financial literacy and other skill development for both families and students.
Bridgeport Youth Summit
On April 1, over 1500 students and young people attended “Port of Opportunity,” a youth summit for ages 12 – 25, in three tracks (middle school, high school and out of school youth) running from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm. The day was to showcase careers that young people probably don’t know about, share very real possibilities for significant salaries, empower youth voices for policymaking, inspire youth to dream, and to let youth know that Bridgeport is a city of opportunity.
The event included workshops. Speakers included city and state representatives, Mayor Ganim and Senator Chris Murphy. Dr. Aldolf Brown (Doc Brown) was the keynote speaker who was inspirational and wove many messages together with humor, dance and music. In between laughing, skits, and dancing from their seats he had them thinking about respect, achieving goals and literally as well as figuratively being challenged to look in the mirror, using Michael Jackson’s song as a theme.
The venue’s skyboxes were used by various businesses including the trade unions to showcase job opportunities. Healthcare careers were featured as fast growing and highly diverse career areas. A college fair gave students exposure to higher education options. Homeland Security had their command post set up to demonstrate diversity of their careers.
Mike Daly, CT Post Editor described the event as, “….there was the buzz of a crowd of 1,500 teenagers from city high schools and middle schools, the thump of the DJs and the rapid-fire inspirational patter of keynote speaker, Dr. Adolf Brown on a day that the arena packed the electricity of a combination tent revival, college fair, career day and, well, an early start to the weekend.”
CommPACT was involved in several ways. A city-wide t-shirt design contest was held at in February to not only feature student’s artistic talent but to use this as a way to start excitement about the event. Kingsley Ossei, a Family and Community Cadre member at Bassick as well as coordinator for My Brother’s Keeper and CT Against Violence, Donna Pfrommer of United Way, and Demetri Smith, a Bassick graduate, worked collaboratively with Jocelyn Ault with this part of the event. Without Demetri, the design that ended up being very popular would not have happened. He has the vision of a teen and the knowledge of the popularity of “beast mode” messaging the 8th grade artist, Tyler Garner, created. He worked with the design to adapt it to t-shirt use. The visioning concept that is used by CommPACT became integrated as a way to help students speak out about what they felt is needed to support youth- with three questions: 1) What would you do if you had $1 million to use for youth? 2) What would you change about your neighborhood? 3) What you do to improve your school? The feedback has been enlightening and shows the depth of caring students have for their community. It will be reviewed and integrated into the policy statements from workshop participants.
This event is part of a comprehensive initiative for collaboration across the city, something that is recognized as a Bridgeport weakness. Many of CommPACT’s community partners as well as the schools and students were engaged in this. Bassick was there in force with Principal Marjorie Coble leading the effort and volunteering hours with her husband the night before. Bridgeport Prospers is a community-wide collaborative of stakeholders working in concert to have a positive, measureable and sustainable impact on outcomes for all children and families from cradle to career. The goal of the conference is to help youth start to understand the value they have, to focus on their assets and to become motivated to engage in their future as well as that of Bridgeport. Bridgeport Prospers is based on using the nationally recognized STRIVE Together Collective Impact model and what the CommPACT team saw in Cincinnati as part of their success with their Community Schools initiative. There has been tremendous coordination between different non-profit members, the business community, the school district, police and city government. Strong relationships have been built across Bridgeport, showing that there is tremendous support for our youth, not just in the schools.
Bridgeport’s Public Allies are in the planning stages for an event with a local business/non-profit job expo, skill building workshops (in resume writing, interviewing and networking for job success), and developing a job shadowing/mentorship program. The Public Allies team will work with school staff, community partners and parents to put in place an enriched program that is sustainable and able to give greater exposure to students and expand their ideas of careers as well as their knowledge of career pathways and education needed. Caregivers will be encouraged to attend with students so both benefit from greater understanding of the careers and educational pathways. Bassick was chosen as their school to partner with on the basis of CommPACT’s engagement with the Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition and Bridgeport Public Education Fund.
Bassick is partnering with and utilizing the highly trained counseling staff of the Greater Bridgeport Council of Churches program called Janus Center (which is focused on crisis intervention and high risk students) to increase intervention and support students who have been identified at Bassick as most in need of one-on-one support to keep them in school and to help reduce what is stopping them from learning. We are also exploring partnership between the school and Janus Center staff to help bring mindful practices into the In-School Suspension program. CommPACT’s Jocelyn Ault sits on an advisory board for Janus Center to help coordinate efforts. The Janus Center staff have been trained and will be using the ASPIRE survey as a tool to positively impact their work.
On March 17th, using a St. Patrick’s theme, PT Barnum residents and community leaders hosted an ASPIRE event at the Gary Crooks Center, part of their large apartment complex. They had a nutritional cooking demonstration by Cooking Matters hosted a dinner and did ASPIRE surveys. PT Partners is a collective impact initiative helping develop leadership skills with a team of residents in this large public housing complex to transform their neighborhood into a community of opportunities through empowering residents to take the lead in an assets-based model to uplift the financial security and quality of life for individuals, families and the community. At the event on the 17th, 30 surveys were added, bringing their database to 200. The information is wide ranging: 34 Assets, 48 Skills, 45 Professions, 30 Interests, 30 Relationships, 14 Environments. Because of the skills of the leaders, ASPIRE surveys were able to be done in both English and Spanish.The point of the event was to bring residents together and to start to build trust and understanding of this as a community building tool. Over the last several months, CommPACT has been working with PT Partners, training their community leaders to use the ASPIRE asset based model, to reach out to residents and build knowledge of and access to their own community assets. This public housing center is a feeder community to Bassick High School and two of the leaders are parents of Bassick graduates with children/grandchildren on track to go there.
Other Collective Impact Activities
- In Bridgeport, CommPACT is partnering with PT Partners (PTP), a community initiative that supports approximately 1,000 low-income residents in public housing at PT Barnum Apartments. A team of six residents have become parent-leaders and will be using ASPIRE as a way to map family and community assets and to use the six points of engagement to strengthen the relationships between residents as well as to better engage community resources. PT Barnum Apartments is a housing project that feeds directly into Bassick High School. PT Partners (PTP) uses innovative approaches fostered through several community partnerships to improve resident, family and community outcomes within and around a severely challenged public housing neighborhood. Kate Kelly, who works for Fairfield County Community Foundation to specifically support PTP, saw CommPACT’s family engagement initiatives as a perfect fit for their goals of combining the best of people-based and place-based strategies to strengthen and maximize success and empower resident families. ASPIRE becomes a collective impact tool for them to engage families and empower them to access needed community-based services.Jocelyn Ault, CommPACT’s Family and Community Engagement Specialist, has met with the parent-leadership team three times over six weeks to provide training on how to use ASPIRE and understand the strengths of their community. Each of the people engaged have gained greater appreciation for their own assets as well as having an increased sense of their collective strength. It was exciting to hear them discuss how so many of them have skills that use math and to realize that students tend to not see the connection between “real life” and their math lessons. They understand how this can invigorate lessons and that they can be advocates for education and resources to classroom teachers as well. Kelsie Lindgren, a Quinnapiac University intern working for PTP will help the team start to gather residents for ASPIRE sessions and to create innovative uses for the assets that are uncovered. These parent leaders will start to do community ASPIRE surveys kicking off at an event on March 17.
- CommPACT collaborator Kingsley Osei (of CT Against Violence and My Brother’s Keeper) has been instrumental in helping CommPACT have an influencing voice at the table to promote the importance of family and community engagement and support that the mayor’s office can give to policy, funding and to promote educational initiatives. He and Jocelyn Ault, CommPACT Family and Community Engagement Specialist, worked with an education transition task force of community members created by newly elected Bridgeport Mayor Ganim.
- Bridgeport Prospers is a community-wide collaborative of stakeholders working in concert to have a positive, measurable and sustainable impact on outcomes for all children and families from cradle to career. Focused on building collective impact, the collaborative is planning a Youth Summit on April 1st for young people 12-25. This is a conference to help youth start to understand the value they have, to focus on their assets and to become motivated to engage in their future as well as that of Bridgeport. This is using the nationally recognized STRIVE Together Collective Impact model. Kingsley Osei (CT Against Violence and My Brother’s Keeper) is partnering with Jocelyn Ault of CommPACT in a t-shirt design contest which has them working with the arts department in the Bridgeport district, the United Way of Coastal Fairfield County, as well as community arts programs to engage students and the community. Demetri Smith (Bassick graduate) and Mid Nite (Bullard Havens graduate) helped the Youth Summit Planning team determine the t-shirt design winner. Kudos to all the students and teachers who worked on this! Tyler from Curiale School, under Mr. West, the art teacher, submitted the winning design.
When Bassick High School mourned the sudden passing of Security Officer Garrett Bynum Jr. due to health issues, Kingsley Osei and the Connecticut Against Violence team brought a Celebration of Life to Bassick to honor Officer Bynum. Osei brought his unique combination of skills including his talent in the world of hip hop and his heritage of celebration of life ceremonies through growing up in Ghana. Principal Peggy Moore worked with Osei to set up two programs in the auditorium so that all students could share their memories and lift up Garrett Bynum as a person who made a difference through his example. As reported by News 12, Mayor Joe Ganim reflected that his title may have been Security Officer at Bassick High School, but he is best remembered as a mentor and role model to young people.
For more information about Connecticut Against Violence, please see their website at Connecticut Against Violence
It doesn’t get any better than when visitors are greeted by an enthusiastic team of Bassick 9th Grade student ambassadors escorting them from the front door up to the third floor. On October 22, 2015 the Bassick 9th Grade Academy greeted over 40 visitors who came to the ribbon cutting ceremony for their newly renovated family-staff-student-community collaborative rooms. When Stephanie Milfort, of the Janus Center, came into the new Cyber Café, she said, “I feel like I have just been led up the Bassick Red Carpet!” Everyone was impressed by the students’ spirited welcome. Peggy Moore, Bassick’s Interim Principal, did the honor of officially cutting the ribbon and Kathy Silver, the 9th Grade Assistant Principal, cut the cake to celebrate.
The newly renovated spaces are designed to foster innovative ways to engage with families and students and to bring the resources of the community into the school for the benefit of both. CommPACT shepherded and invested in the design project in partnership with Bassick’s 9th grade Family and Community Cadre. The Cadre is a team of parents, staff, students and community members who are actively working together to identify and help implement meaningful student-staff-family-community engagement.
From our experiences, we have learned that amazing things can happen when a school has a space designed to meet their families’ unique needs, as they define them. The Bassick campus has some distinctive challenges to overcome in being welcoming. In keeping with this concept, the CommPACT team worked with 9th Grade Assistant Principal Kathy Silver, the 9th Grade Family and Community Cadre, and Insalco’s, Evan Golden to create spaces to nurture partnerships and expanded family and community supports. Over the summer the District installed a new roof to stop the leaking and all the rooms were freshly painted.
The unveiling was enthusiastically embraced and the rooms were absolutely jammed as everyone tested the furniture for comfort and function. Each room, the Parent/Staff Lounge, the Cyber Café and the Refocus Room, was designed with a distinct role to promote student, family and community engagement and collaboration. Feedback from Parent Interest Surveys will be used to help focus priorities. Programs planned so far include family nights, after school enrichment programs using community partners and local businesses (many showed up for the ribbon cutting), and mentoring. Community partners will add their expertise by providing social and emotional supports. To help students and families better understand workforce opportunities, we will be hosting a Bassick Alumni program where alumni will talk about their journey and success. People who have sat in these same seats have gone on to do amazing things and these discussions will enable both students and families to be inspired and learn more about career pathways in our community. It will also provide a way for Bassick graduates to give back to their Alma mater with their time and talent.
In addition to designing places that foster parent and community engagement, the 9th Grade Family and Community Cadre and CommPACT are using the following research-based “best practices”:
1) Implementing a VISION for the 9th grade. This includes using multi-point feedback already gathered around the question, “What would you like to see in the 9th grade 5 years from now?”
2) CommPACT and CREC facilitated a 9th grade “welcoming walk-through” performed by parents, students, staff, UCONN education students, and community members. It is critical that the physical barriers to engaging families as partners in education are broken down. Next steps include implementing improvements derived from this multi-perspective feedback.
3) Expanding partnerships by helping our families and school community form a stronger “whole family”, two-generational approach to tackle issues. The problems of youth are rarely independent of experiences with the adults in their lives and the places in which they live, learn and grow. By using shared assets to support both students and families, we can improve outcomes and strengthen our community as a whole.
Bassick High School Sees Dramatic Improvement in Attendance
Bassick High School has seen great results by having resources to focus on student emotional and social development along with classroom enrichment. It is truly an exemplar. Sal Hanaif, the CommPACT Climate and School Success Specialist, has worked intensely with students who were identified with classroom behavioral problems by the staff. His impact is clearly seen in dramatic improvement in attendance and a great reduction in students who have disengaged from learning. In only two quarters, 65% of the students he worked with had at least a 30% improvement in attendance. Almost 50% of the students had a 50% or better improvement in attendance. For the 24 students in this cohort who had failing grades, 10 reduced their failure rate by at least 50%.
• Three rooms were designed with input from the 9th grade academy and have now been set up to promote family and community engagement and to foster expanded usage including parent/staff meetings, after-school and evening enrichment for students and families, collaborative programming with community partners, and mentoring. The new rooms were inaugurated with a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony attended by over 40 students, community, parents and staff members.
• The 9th Grade Family and Community Cadre (made up of students, parents, staff and community members) is dedicated to working collaboratively to develop and implement strategies to support family and student engagement. Monthly meetings are currently focused on:
1) Finalization of spring Visioning and work to develop and implement action steps to support 9th grade academy hopes and dreams for becoming a place where students and families thrive.
2) Use of observations and recommendations from the May Welcoming Walk-through process to create a culture and environment that will increase family engagement.
• The 9th grade piloted a Parent Survey to determine what they see as their needs and highest priorities to help determine programming in the newly designed rooms. This survey is now being adopted on a school-wide basis to both determine community partnerships/programming which will most benefit families and to evaluate the best way to spend priority funds.
• ASPIRE Survey: mapping of community and parent assets to support family and student engagement will be a focus starting in January for the 9th grade team with staff training and ongoing parent ASPIRE sessions.
• A partnership has been formed with PT Partners (PTP), a collaborative approach to improving resident, family and community outcomes within and around a severely challenged public housing neighborhood which feeds into Bassick High School. Through this partnership we will be building a stronger parent empowerment alliance and will help transition “parents as partners” from the 8th grade feeder schools into Bassick’s 9th grade. In November and December, parent leaders will be trained in ASPIRE to then start mapping assets and building community capacity with the residents of this housing neighborhood.
• Bassick graduates have gone on to do amazing and inspiring things. Bassick alumni, led by alumnus and United Illuminating Community Development Specialist Eileen Lopez- Cordone, are being inspired to form a speakers group and to pass along their stories of perseverance, overcoming obstacles, and their own journey to success to help students and families understand the rich and varied opportunities and pathways for graduates and to inspire them to put in the hard work to achieve their dreams as well as the practical pieces of getting and holding jobs.
Connecticut Against Violence (CAV)
On September 4th, Connecticut Against Violence (CAV) founder, Kingsley Osei partnered with CommPACT and others, to kick off the school year for 9th grade students, from five Bridgeport schools, with a dynamic program to bring awareness about what students can do can do to take charge of their lives, make good decisions and to prevent violence. “Preparing Our Youth For A Better Tomorrow,” the 3rd Annual Connecticut Against Violence Back to School Youth Summit, was a huge success with over 300 students, parents and community members coming together to promote behaviors and choices that will help keep our youth safe. DJ Santo and G Money brought music and energy that had the students feeling the positive messages. This event was an exemplar of community partnership including the Bridgeport School District, Housatonic Community College, Bridgeport Police Department, as well as several political and church leaders, and community organizations (almost 100 people helped make this happen). In addition to a line-up of speakers for the day, there were breakout workshops for students to do small group work on identifying and building assets and preventive skills.
Michele Femc-Bagwell led parents and community members through an ASPIRE workshop, mapping the tremendous assets and resources of the community through the six points of community engagement. Parents and community members were excited to find pathways to connect community assets and provide resources to benefit both our families and our students. The day was a reflection of what happens when we capitalize on and build relationships. Michele was later honored by Mayor Bill Finch for her work with CAV.
Rite Aid Vice President, Shawn Jackson, was the keynote speaker and provided students with inspiration by telling his own stories of growing up in Bridgeport, walking the streets they are walking, and growing up with having a father in jail. He told about being pressured to get involved on the streets. His message, “The way you think will drive your behaviors and your behaviors will drive your outcome,” got their attention.
Leadership Changes at Bassick
Bassick High School in Bridgeport has experienced many leadership changes over the five years that CommPACT has been engaged with the school. When determining support for the 2014-15 school year, we sought support at all levels for our initiatives. This included meeting first with Interim Superintendent Fran Rabinowitz. With the reorganization of Bassick into four grade-level academies, it was determined that focusing on the 9th Grade Academy would have the greatest potential impact.
Working with the newly appointed 9th Grade Academy Interim Principal, Kathy Silver, and the team of teachers (they voted to bring us in) our work focused on student and family engagement and creating a positive climate. Sal Hanaif was hired as a part time Climate and School Success Specialist. With his fantastic credentials in teen development and family engagement, we knew that he could partner with the staff to work with students and their families and create a climate that would foster learning and student engagement.
Ever since gathering information from parents, grandparents, staff, and the community on what a vision for family and community engagement in the 9th grade would look like, the Family and Community Cadre has been working to identify key themes in the feedback and to create an overall vision statement that will help guide action steps to achieve that vision. There’s a team of students, parents, staff and community members on the Cadre. They have also had an ASPIRE night to gain a better understanding of resources that the families and community can bring to benefit students at Bassick.
Bassick 9th Grade Academy Family and Community Cadre member, Kingsley Osei, not only is an integral part of the Cadre, but he produces programs that promote non-violence and brings them to all the schools including Bassick. Kingsley is the founder of Connecticut Against Violence. He was recently honored at the 4th Annual Bridgeport ReEntry Awards Ceremony with the Professional of the Year Award.
Freedom Riders Event
Bassick High School students, staff and parents literally got “on the bus” to attend the January 21st Bridgeport Public Education Fund and Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition hosted event called “Freedom Riders.” Three of the original Freedom Riders, Rev. Reginald Green, Joan Browning, and Dion Diamond, spoke about being 19 years old and their experiences in the 1960’s civil rights movement.
Kathy Silver organized a district bus to take students from Bassick to the event at the Holiday Inn. CommPACT provided student, parent and staff tickets. The long term goal is to keep the dialogue about advocacy and history going. Students made signs and as the bus drove to the front door of the Holiday Inn, they were greeted by our community partners from Bridgeport Child Advocacy and Bridgeport Public Education Fund as well as Freedom Rider, Joan Browning. Later when asked about hopes for the future, Ms. Browning said that seeing the bus with the kids with their signs was a highlight and that is what gives her hope. Bassick students had the opportunity to ask the Riders questions about their experience and views.
The evening’s event concluded with the whole room of 300 people holding hands and singing “We Shall Overcome” and it turned out that our students had never heard this song. After the meeting space is created for the 9th Grade Academy, there will be a movie night featuring a viewing of the Freedom Rider’s documentary. At one of the tables where students and families were seated was a local friend of Rev. Green who wants to attend the viewing with his grandchildren. Others in the audience who were activists at the time have offered to come and share their experiences that night. Rev. Bennett gave a “shout out” to CommPACT and thanks for providing so many the opportunity to attend the event.
In partnership with the CommPACT Community Schools Collaborative, stakeholders at Bassick high school have been invigorated around ideas on how to engage families and community support for the 9th Grade Academy. To make the area more welcoming and useful, the team met with designer, Evan Golden of Insalco Corp. to look at how to maximize the use of the spaces. Before going into education, Kathy Silver, the 9th grade Principal, first studied to be a designer so she is very involved with helping to shape the design. She, along with her staff and the Family & Community Cadre will look at the plans and start to think about more innovative ways to bring parents and the community into these spaces.
Also, the 3rd floor of Bassick was in desperate need of some TLC and so December 10th and 13th, students, staff and community members came together to begin to beautify spaces. They began with cleaning the walls, painting and adding murals with inspirational quotes.
Bassick High School in Bridgeport has been a focus of CommPACT work for five years. During the last two years the emphasis has been on Family and Community engagement as designed by the Parent Cadre and driven by feedback from parents through surveys and conversations. A Parent Resource Center was formed with computers, Rosetta Stone, meeting space, space for community resource information, and a children’s play area so that parents can bring younger children while they participate in activities designed for them. The District has now hired a Home School Coordinator to staff the Parent Resource Center and carry on the work started.
For Back-To-School night, families, staff and community members gathered in the Parent Resource Center. Even parents from other schools came to see what was happening here. Community members from programs last year came to explore how they could help this year. Back-to-School night was the kick-off for this year’s Bassick Book Club started last year by Joanne Kennedy, PTSO President. CommPACT donated books based on the desires of families, students and staff who were polled at the end of last year. Both families and the librarian were excited to see books that were deemed “highly desirable” out on the tables for families to select from.
Bassick has been re-engineered this year into four academies to bring a smaller scale and focus to each grade level’s team. The schedule and layout of the large campus has been designed to form small learning communities and to help students become more connected to the staff. The 9th Grade Academy, led by newly promoted Principal Kathy Silver, will be submitting a detailed proposal to focus on family and community engagement with the 9th grade. This is a key transitional year for families and students where the opportunity to have meaningful engagement can translate to students’ staying in school and engaged in their education.
The 1st Annual Bassick Block Party was launched. This was the brainchild of a 10th grade teaching team (Steve James, chair of the Parent Cadre, Kailey Barney, Marilyn Camacho, and Bernadette Bray). At their team meeting they came up with this idea for family and student engagement and then marched right into the Parent Resource Center to engage support and help to make this an event to remember.
The goals were to:
• Support the concept of CommPACT- by creating a fun event that would bring Community, Parents, Administrators, Children and Teachers together and create interactions that would foster and build relationships.
• Celebrate what is positive about Bassick and show off Bassick and student skills/achievements. Rising 8th grade families were also invited to give visibility of the positives of Bassick to incoming students.
• Bring community partners in to help give support to students and their families.
• Provide a team building experience between staff and with families and students.
• Engage parents at Bassick in a fun environment that benefits their children- create a “something to do at Bassick” day to boost Bassick Pride.
CommPACT jumped in with critical support; a grant to help underwrite costs for things that wouldn’t be donated. One of the sticking points with creating any event is the need for security and custodial staff and often the costs of these derail projects. With the grant in place, then the team worked to get a tremendous amount donated and partnered with community partners to set up information tables with give-aways.
Donations included: popcorn and cotton candy machines with all the supplies, lawn games, a grill and wash stand to meet necessary hygiene standards, a DJ complete with a sound system, and a myriad of other little components that made the day a huge success. Over 110 people volunteered, wearing bright green t-shirts with Bassick Pride on the back. They were easy to spot helping out all over the campus and their actions showed their pride in the school and their desire to make the day a success.
Of the volunteers, 70 were students, with some starting Saturday morning by 8:00 for set up and staying after 2:00 pm doing cleanup. Many students, when they left, expressed regrets that they couldn’t stay. Some of the volunteers donated expertise with face painting and henna hand painting. Others were willing to jump in and do whatever would help out.
The Bassick High School’s Parent Resource Center.pdf officially opened with its first informational program for the Bassick community-Explore the Road to Home Ownership: Simple Steps to Owning Your Own Home presented by Terrence Floyd and Millie Rochet of People’s United Bank.
It was exciting to see the year unfold at Bassick and there was daily activity in the center. The numbers of people coming dramatically increased when we started to offer computer training. We offered 14 different kinds of training programs and these were based on the parent surveys that were done. Starting in April we did the A.S.P.I.R.E. Survey ™and captured 150 surveys. The majority of the ASPIRE surveys were from staff and community members. A push to get parents involved is important for next year as well as to have teachers use it to connect to resources. Our parents and community members got involved as volunteers. We had 54 volunteer visits from 21 different people. One person was here 23 times to teach computer skills and volunteered over 75 hours.
- Resume Tips.pdf
- Rosetta Stone.pdf
- Food Drives.pdf
- Healthcare Enrollment.pdf
- Computer Skills
- Building Credit.pdf
- Father’s Program.pdf
- Motivating Teens.pdf
The staff of the Parent Resource Center works collaboratively and as an active participant on the Bassick School Governance Council. They represent the many interests of the families and staff that make up the school’s community. This is important because research has shown that:
- Partnerships among families, school and community members can make a powerful contribution to greater student success.
- No matter what their income or background, students with involved families tend to have higher grades and test scores, better attendance, and higher rates of homework completion.
The School Governance Council serves as an important role to the school administrator by:
- Bringing together parents, school staff, students and community leaders to work together to improve student achievement and
- Assisting the school administration in decisions impacting students’ education in areas such as:
- Analyze data and school needs;
- Review the school’s resources; and
- Advise the principal in making programmatic and operational changes.
Learn more about School Governance Councils! Visit www.ct.gov/sde/SGC
Bassick High School
|Address:||1181 Fairfield Avenue|
Bridgeport, CT 06605