By Alex Caruso
Sacred Heart University announced that they received two grants to help fund a new program focused on helping students in the education department get involved with Bridgeport Public Schools.
The SHU Bridge Portal Program aims to bring together education students and Bridgeport Public School students with an interest in public education.
Dean Michael Alfano of the Isabelle Farrington College of Education is the main developer of this new program. He said, “The purpose of this program is to help address high teacher attrition in the Bridgeport Public Schools and to address minority teacher recruitment in our state’s public schools.”
According to Alfano, the SHU Bridge Portal Program plans to strengthen the relationship between the Farrington College of Education and Bridgeport Public Schools. It also plans to use focused programming to help achieve Sacred Heart’s mission.
With an anticipated launch in the fall 2020, a select amount of Sacred Heart education students will be recruited from Dec. to Jan. to be the first group of people to participate in the new program, according to Alfano.
Students from the Bridgeport public schools will be recruited after the program’s launch. “We hope to cast as big of a net as possible. We will be working in collaboration with our colleagues in the Bridgeport public schools to determine admissions criteria” said Alfano. “It will include overall GPA, but we will be looking at other factors, as well.”
If a student is accepted into the Portal program, they will be required to spend two years in a cohort at St. Vincent’s College as a commuter earning their Associate’s Degree in Liberal Studies.
Dean Maryanne Davidson of St. Vincent’s College helped develop the program alongside Alfano. She said, “The mission of St. Vincent’s College, as well as the mission of the university, are tied closely to meeting the needs of the community of Bridgeport and surrounding towns. The goal of this program is to utilize our resources at the university to support students from Bridgeport to achieve a degree in education and then return to strengthen their community.”
According to Davidson, The graduates of this program will be needed to fill important openings in the Bridgeport school system.
“The creation of these new opportunities for education students in Bridgeport public schools sounds like a very ideal situation for everyone involved and I’m excited to see what happens after the program launches,” said Michael Korn.
Students that successfully go through the program will work in Bridgeport schools as a resident educator in a pipeline of teachers in the Bridgeport school system.
“This program is designed to recruit talented students from the Bridgeport school system who are interested in teaching” said Davidson. “Students are supported, in part, by the Bridgeport school system and will ‘give back’ at the end of their degree.”
In a press release by Sacred Heart about the SHU Bridge Portal Program, Alfano stated that the program directly correlates with the mission of the university, part of that is to help give back to the Bridgeport community by sharing our resources and engaging with our neighbors.
Students also know helping the community is a key part of Sacred Heart.
“I believe it is important to maintain a sense of community at Sacred Heart” said junior Hope Lecours. “I think this program will greatly benefit a lot of people and children around the Bridgeport area, resulting in the strengthening of our entire community.”
Alfano wants the program to make a long term positive impact with the Bridgeport public schools.
“My hopes for the program is that we can form a long-lasting, impactful relationship with the Bridgeport public schools where we can help address a long standing issue-high teacher turnover-utilizing the talent and resources that are available within the city and here at Sacred Heart University,” said Alfano.