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Capitol Region Education Council

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CREC Metropolitan Learning Center Leo Club Raises Funds for Guide Dog Harness

(Bloomfield, CT) The CREC Metropolitan Learning Center Leo Club recently sponsored a highly successful fundraising campaign to purchase a harness for a Fidelco guide dog. “It is this level of thoughtfulness and kindness that creates the opportunities to help communities. MLC Leos have engaged in projects at local and international levels through this awareness and commitment,” said Constanza Paramo, liaison for the MLC Leo Club and the Bloomfield Lions Club.Club members sold wristbands inscribed in Braille with “MLC Leo” that allowed students to dress casually for the day rather than wear the required school uniform. Proceeds from the “dress down” fundraiser will cover the cost of a guide dog harness with a plaque saying, “Donated by MLC Leos 2017.”Fidelco guide dogs undergo 24 months of intensive training before they are given to a vision-impaired person to assist them with their independence and freedom. The harness will be given to a dog once it completes its training.The MLC Leo Club, which was founded in 2011, is proudly sponsored by the Bloomfield Lions Club for the purpose of developing young student citizens willing to serve communities at local and global levels. Leo Club members are characterized for having a personal drive and keen willingness to support school and community causes that make a positive difference in people’s lives. Prior to the Fidelco campaign, the MLC Leos made a significant contribution to the rebuilding of the “Jose Acevedo Elementary School” in the Philippines which had been devastated by the Haiyan Typhoon. ###The Capitol Region Education Council was established in 1966. Working with and for its member districts, CREC has developed a wide array of cost-effective and high-quality programs and services to meet the educational needs of children and adults in the region. CREC brings nearly five decades of experience in education, regional collaboration, and operations to provide innovative strategies and products that address the changings needs of school districts and their students, corporations, non-profits, and individual professions. CREC regularly serves 36 towns in Greater Hartford, offering more than 120 programs to more than 150,000 students annually. CREC manages more than 35 facilities throughout the area, including 17 interdistrict magnet schools. More information about CREC and CREC’s award-winning schools is available at www.crec.org.

CREC Co-sponsors Statewide Symposium on Childhood Trauma and Mental Health

(Hartford, CT) Approximately 100 school, mental health, and community leaders from across the state gathered at the University of Connecticut campus in Storrs on Wednesday, May 24, 2017 to discuss childhood trauma and the impact it can have on a child’s education, as well as possible strategies for responding to children who have experienced trauma or have behavioral health issues. The event, “Symposium on Trauma-Informed School Mental Health,” was the result of collaboration between the Capitol Region Education Council, the state Department of Education, the University of Connecticut Collaboratory on School and Child Health and Neag School of Education, the Ana Grace Project, Clifford Beers Clinic, and the Child Health Development Institute. The symposium’s main goals were to increase awareness among participants of important issues in childhood trauma, discuss creation of a common framework for addressing trauma, violence and mental health needs among children, and to stimulate the development of a trauma-informed school mental health plan.“We are excited to have this collaborative effort on behalf of students and families in Connecticut. This is our first united approach to determine how to best meet the needs of students with mental health needs and those impacted by trauma. We know that our school districts are anxious to become part of this initiative and to be at the table. Hopefully this is the first step in this process,” said Deborah Richards, CREC Director of Student Services.When asked about the value of hosting this type of event, Dr. Sandra Chafouleas, Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor in the Neag School and Co-Director of the UConn Collaboratory on School and Child Health, indicated that “we are excited to facilitate important conversations about the what and how of a trauma-informed lens in our school systems. Collaborative efforts such as this symposium form an essential piece of moving toward why it might be important to how do we collectively work together to make it happen.Following opening remarks by Connecticut State Department of Education Commissioner Dianna Wentzell and a kick-off discussion hosted by the Child Health and Development Institute’s Jeff Vanderploeg and Alice Forrester of the Clifford Beers Clinic, participants broke into groups, with each breakout session using a similar set of questions to focus on issues pertaining to a different topic in school mental health: workforce development; financing school mental health and accountability systems; promotion, prevention, and early identification; and interventions that bridge schools, families and communities. Participants later re-convened to summarize the big ideas, with plans to integrate the discussions into a document to drive next steps in facilitating a statewide framework for trauma-informed school mental health. CREC will continue its collaboration with the co-sponsoring agencies in order to continue this work across the state. ###The Capitol Region Education Council was established in 1966. Working with and for its member districts, CREC has developed a wide array of cost-effective and high-quality programs and services to meet the educational needs of children and adults in the region. CREC brings nearly five decades of experience in education, regional collaboration, and operations to provide innovative strategies and products that address the changings needs of school districts and their students, corporations, non-profits, and individual professions. CREC regularly serves 36 towns in Greater Hartford, offering more than 120 programs to more than 150,000 students annually. CREC manages more than 35 facilities throughout the area, including 17 interdistrict magnet schools. More information about CREC and CREC’s award-winning schools is available at www.crec.org.

CREC Transition to Employment Programs Break Barriers for New Arrivals and Job-Seekers

(Hartford, CT) Communicating used to be a daily struggle for 29-year-old Freily Medina when she first arrived in Hartford from the Dominican Republic five years ago. She relied heavily on bilingual people to help her talk to doctors, run basic errands or simply navigate her new surroundings.Determined to learn English, Medina went to CREC Transition to Employment Services (TES) where English language and GED courses are offered free of charge. She enrolled in Family Literacy ESL, a beginner-level English class, and took advantage of the free Early Childhood Education classes at their safe and secure onsite facility for her two young children.For me, this program is like my light in this country because I learned English here. When I have appointment for my kids, I don’t need interpreter. If I need to call on the phone, I can call. I feel very happy with me because my English is not a barrier for me anymore. For me, this open doors,” said Medina, who has since completed Intermediate and Advanced English classes, obtained her driver's license and citizenship, enrolled her oldest daughter at the CREC River Street school tuition free through a scholarship, and will be graduating from Manchester Community College with a Medical Office Assistant certificate in June.CREC Transition to Employment Services is a subset of CREC Community Education, which has been around for more than 20 years. They not only offer English and GED classes free of charge, but also provide much needed resources and supplies such as winter gear, hygiene products, back packs, clothing, diapers, baby formula, Thanksgiving meals, Christmas toys, furniture, and much more, all donated from local organizations. In addition, participants receive hot and nutritious meals from House of Bread and professional attire from Dress for Success for job interviews and career fairs. Perhaps most important of all, students are provided with the highest levels of holistic support and best-in-class case management services, which are key in helping meet their needs, allowing them to stay focused on completing their education.  The office’s new location is on the third floor of the Coltsville Armory Dome building at 55 Van Dyke Avenue in Hartford. The new facility has been recently remodeled, and is equipped with a large conference room, Smart classrooms, student cafeteria, family room, and is a certified Pearson testing site. Medina said there are few places like CREC TES where someone could find so many services, great classes, and an amazingly supportive staff all in one place.“For me, this is perfect place if you want to grow and start over in this country,” she said.Currently, students can enroll in Family Literacy ESL, Intermediate English, Advanced English or GED classes. The Advanced English Class is combined with a Medical Office Assistant certificate program at Manchester Community College. All free of charge.“We are the bridge for people. While many of our students had careers in their native countries, we help them develop their English skills and guide them in continuing their professions here,” said Sixmaritt Pagán-Peña, Program Coordinator and Case Manager at CREC Transition to Employment Services.Pagán-Peña said she brings in representatives from Central Connecticut State University to advise students on the steps they need to take to transfer credits from their country of origin or the classes needed to, for example, practice law or accounting here in the U.S. English and GED classes are offered in fall and spring semesters. Students who complete the advanced English class and go on to the medical office assistant course at Manchester Community College also get help finding an internship, which sometimes leads to a fulltime job.Pagán-Peña keeps photos that former students send her or post on Facebook – a photo of a student’s green card, another of an ID badge from a student’s new job at Charter Oak Health Center, a picture of a student’s name engraved on a stethoscope.“I absolutely love my job!” says Pagán-Peña, adding that she gets energized seeing students’ progress and growth throughout program. After spending just a few minutes with her, it quickly becomes very obvious that this is her passion and that her students’ success is what drives her every day.Goodwill Industries recently presented a Community Partner of the Year Award to CREC Transition to Employment Services for their success in helping people obtain their GEDs. TES has been managing a GED program in partnership with Goodwill for about five years. TES attributes this successful partnership to the kindred spirits and mutual goals demonstrated by both organizations. CREC and the Goodwill organization share the same level of standards and expectations for serving the community. Flor M. De Hoyos, Program Manager, had this to say: “We don’t do this work for awards or recognition. We do it because of our passion for improving our community and creating opportunities for others. We are very humbled by this award, and are forever grateful to Goodwill for their support and partnership.”For more information, follow them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CREC.TES or call 860-509-3638. ###The Capitol Region Education Council was established in 1966. Working with and for its member districts, CREC has developed a wide array of cost-effective and high-quality programs and services to meet the educational needs of children and adults in the region. CREC brings nearly five decades of experience in education, regional collaboration, and operations to provide innovative strategies and products that address the changings needs of school districts and their students, corporations, non-profits, and individual professions. CREC regularly serves 36 towns in Greater Hartford, offering more than 120 programs to more than 150,000 students annually. CREC manages more than 35 facilities throughout the area, including 17 interdistrict magnet schools. More information about CREC and CREC’s award-winning schools is available at www.crec.org.

CREC Two Rivers Middle School Students Visit Iowa State University for Insight on Space-Bound Algae

(East Hartford, CT) A group of eighth graders from CREC Two Rivers Magnet Middle School, whose algae experiment will fly into space this summer, visited Iowa State University recently to get some insight from algae experts. The students toured the campus and visited the Center for Crops Utilization Research facility to learn more about the work that ISU is doing with bio renewable resources for fuel."The trip was an incredible opportunity for the students to experience a real world application of science research. They not only got a feel for the precision needed to conduct experiments, but they also got a better sense of just how broad the fields of science and engineering are," said Kennan Poulakos, Environmental Theme coach at CREC Two Rivers Middle School.The students’ experiment, "How does microgravity affect algae growth?” was selected to fly aboard a SpaceX-12 rocket to the International Space Station in late summer of 2017. The students are among 21 groups whose experiment will fly as part of Mission 11 of the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program.The students connected with Dr. Martin Gross at ISU while researching algae for their experiment. Dr. Gross agreed to help the students and flew them to Iowa for a dry run and to show them the innovative programs that ISU does with bio renewables, especially with corn and ethanol production.Of the five students who worked on the experiment, three of them made the trip to Iowa: Jack McCann of Vernon, Angel Soto of East Hartford, and Kieran Yanaway of South Windsor.The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) is a program of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) in the U.S. and the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education internationally. It is enabled through a strategic partnership with DreamUp PBC and NanoRacks LLC, which are working with NASA under a Space Act Agreement as part of the utilization of the International Space Station as a National Laboratory.###The Capitol Region Education Council was established in 1966. Working with and for its member districts, CREC has developed a wide array of cost-effective and high-quality programs and services to meet the educational needs of children and adults in the region. CREC brings nearly five decades of experience in education, regional collaboration, and operations to provide innovative strategies and products that address the changings needs of school districts and their students, corporations, non-profits, and individual professions. CREC regularly serves 36 towns in Greater Hartford, offering more than 120 programs to more than 150,000 students annually. CREC manages more than 35 facilities throughout the area, including 17 interdistrict magnet schools. More information about CREC and CREC’s award-winning schools is available at www.crec.org.

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