Fairfield University and Bridgeport Public Schools partner to give high schoolers a boost


Image: Fairfield University flagsAn exciting new partnership between Fairfield University and Bridgeport Public Schools will give qualified city high school students a taste of college, while helping Fairfield teacher candidates hone their skills in the classroom.

The Early College Program (ECP) will offer a chance for 12 promising Bridgeport high school students to take Fairfield University courses for college credit this fall, making higher education more of a reality in the district where only 54 percent of students graduate from high school. The district will cover the $600 tuition fee per course, as well as offer paid internships and student teaching opportunities for Fairfield's teacher candidates.

"We know that there is an urgent need for change here in the city of Bridgeport," said Mayor Bill Finch at a May press conference announcing the plan. "This will give our children the same opportunity as any children across the country."

Bridgeport Superintendent of Schools Paul Vallas said many reform efforts in city schools in America focus on younger children in the early grades and pre-school. "High school kids are almost written off," he said, noting the majority of students who graduate from Bridgeport high schools need remedial courses even at the community college level. "We want to change that."

Interested students must be in good standing and must pass the Accuplacer Assessment exam to show they are ready for college material. At Fairfield, the students will be paired in class with at least one other high school student, an effort to make them feel more at home in a college setting, said Dr. Susan Franzosa, dean, Graduate School of Education & Allied Professions (GSEAP).

Dr. Christine Siegel, associate dean of GSEAP, said the program is a win-win situation because it speaks to the University's mission of community service.

"The ECP program is an important part of a larger partnership between the GSEAP and the Bridgeport Public Schools," said Dean Franzosa. "We will have 20 of our students serving as interns in Bridgeport schools in the fall as well as tutoring projects, and a site-based teacher training grant focused on instruction in literacy. Fairfield students and faculty and Bridgeport students and teachers will all benefit."

For more information on dual enrollment opportunities, contact Aaron Perkus at (203) 254-4000, ext. 2918 or aperkus@fairfield.edu. For information on Fairfield's teacher education programs, contact Christine Siegel at (203) 254-4250 or csiegel@fairfield.edu.

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Media Contact: Meredith Guinness, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2950, mguinness@fairfield.edu

Posted on July 24, 2012

Vol. 45, No. 13