By LAURiE LAWLESS
Although Norwalk Community College linking with J.M. Wright Technical High School is out of the picture for right now there are still other programs that are geared to help the Norwalk area’s high school students.
“What was really important to me when I came here in August of 2004, was to really make close connections with the local public schools,” said NCC President, David Levinson.
In December of 2004, the Lifetime Learners program organized a community education event to inform people of the Bush Administration’s “No Child Left Behind” policy.
“It was a really good way of connecting with the community,” said Levinson.
In 2006, NCC received a grant from the state to start working with Norwalk high school students. Since then the various programs have developed and more grants have been given specifically to NCC for expanding their high school reach programs.
The current programs are as follows: Connecticut Collegiate Awareness and Preparation (ConnCAP), Briggs NCC Academy and School to Career. Each of these is funded through grants given out by certain state departments. The School to Career program, for example, is funded by the Connecticut Department of Labor.
Each of the different programs is different, but all of them help students achieve the same thing; good grades, good study habits and good self discipline.
The ConnCAP program brings in students from low-income families and students whose family has little to no college background. These students come in right after they graduate from eighth grade and attend after school tutoring sessions at NCC as well as six weeks over the summer taking non-credit courses in English, math, social studies and science. If these students stay in the program, by the time they get their junior year in high school, they are able to start taking courses for credit and can get a jump start on their Associate’s degree.
Students enrolled in this program go on field trips, meet with mentors and visit local colleges.
“They need the structure. They need the immediate feedback on what they’re doing right now,” said Gail Howard, NCC director of cooperative education.
The Briggs NCC Academy began as a programs geared specifically towards juniors and seniors at Norwalk’s alternative high school, Briggs. This year the program expanded from just Briggs to Stamford, Milford, Greenwich and Fairfield alternative high schools. This program allows good standing students to begin taking developmental credit classes at NCC in the English or math department. Each class has a co-teacher from their high school, who sits in on the classes and can coach students during the week while they are not at NCC. The grant for this program was attained by Briggs High School through the Connecticut Department of Education.
“The Briggs program has been very successful in changing the atmosphere at Briggs. I think the principal at Briggs, Alaine Lane, can agree with me,” said Howard. “It’s given all great students the idea that there is a pathway up…into personal and career success.”
The School to Career program works with Briggs High School and Stamford Academy. This program offers students a course in career planning and career exploration activities such as career days and job shadowing. This program also offers what Howard said was a “small amount of money for a few students” to get students into certificate programs. Certificate programs are a yearlong credit or non-credit program, which can lead to a job that pays better than the normal part time college job, like retail. These classes can be taken at night and can lead to jobs such as a vet tech, a dental assistant, a computer technician or certified nurse’s assistant. According to Howard, having a certified career can allow self sufficient college students to make more money to pay for school with less help from their parents.
“I think it’s critical for every kid to be college ready. Whether they go to college or not is something I guess they will decide,” said Levinson. “If we can bridge the gap between where students are coming from and the sense of the developmental issue, a student who graduates from a high school in Norwalk shouldn’t be placing into a developmental course, in an ideal world.”
By LAURiE LAWLESS