Fairfield University and Diocese of Bridgeport Partner to Transform Curricula
The Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions (GSEAP) has entered into a multiyear partnership with the Diocese of Bridgeport Catholic Schools and Apple Inc. to integrate technology across the curriculum and address individual student learning needs.
“We are transforming the paradigm because we have to change the way we think about how we can educate and how we can instruct,” said Diocese of Bridgeport Superintendent of Schools Steven Cheeseman, EdD. “It’s challenging us to change the way we think, to try different approaches, and to keep the focus not just on the material and content —but also on the students and their need to be successful.”
The Personalized Learning Initiative will infuse Catholic schools in the Bridgeport Diocese with technology in order to create more time for teachers to spend with students in small groups or individually. “The first thing we want to do is make sure our students have the opportunity to learn at their own pace, to meet their needs, and to acknowledge their gifts.” Dr. Cheeseman continued, “The second thing we want to do is to give students the opportunity to have a choice in how they learn and how they demonstrate mastery of the learning.”
The education program has been described as a student learning management system that is adaptive and responsive to individual student needs. Students will have the opportunity to rotate through stations that include working online, working in small groups with the teacher, and working independently. New innovation labs at each school will feature Lego robotics kits, 3D printers, green screens, and a coding program.
Fairfield University’s educational technology faculty Josh Elliott, EdD, and Jay Rozgonyi, along with graduate students, will support the diocese’s initiative. Beginning this summer, an educational technology certificate program will be available for diocesan teachers.
“We are very excited to partner with the diocese on these innovative initiatives," said GSEAP Dean Bob Hannafin, PhD. "It may sound counterintuitive, but these tools, in the hands of skilled and caring teachers, can create learning environments that are actually more personal, not less.”
Beginning in the fall of 2018, the program will launch with six schools in year one: Assumption Catholic School in Fairfield; St. Gregory the Great in Danbury; Holy Trinity Catholic Academy in Shelton; Catholic Academy of Stamford, Upper School; Our Lady of Fatima in Wilton; and St. Joseph Catholic Academy in Brookfield. Eight schools will be added the following year in phase two, and the remaining Diocese of Bridgeport Catholic Schools will be introduced to the model in phase three.
“Academic excellence is part of our mission,” Dr. Cheeseman said. “We have no choice, if we’re going to educate children, except to do it in a way that respects their gifts and talents and leads them to excellence and growth.”
A second component of the partnership will include the creation of a high school “academy” with an emphasis on computer science, and nursing, and health studies. The Egan School of Nursing and Health Studies will partner with the School of Engineering to offer two, four-course sequences leading to a certificate, for high school juniors and seniors in the diocese.
GSEAP will also train and certify 12 new teachers to work in the district who will receive spiritual direction from Fairfield’s Center for Ignatian Spirituality. Fairfield undergraduates enrolled in service learning courses will also have the opportunity to work in diocesan classrooms.
In addition to partnerships with Fairfield University and Apple Inc., a generous grant of $5 million from a private donor will make the launch of the program possible. Consultants Christian Brothers and Catapult will help with the strategic rollout and instructional plan.