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Oct 8

CREC is an Inaugural Member of The Bridges Collaborative, A Nationwide Initiative to Advance Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Education

CREC announced today that it was selected to join the inaugural cohort of The Bridges Collaborative, a first-of-its-kind grassroots initiative to advance racial and socioeconomic integration and equity in America’s schools. The Bridges Collaborative, which officially launches this week, is coordinated by The Century Foundation (TCF), a national think tank that has helped steer the conversation on school integration for decades....

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Sep 2

Five CREC Locations to Serve Free Breakfast and Lunch to All Students for 2020-2021 School Year

(Hartford, Conn.) The Capitol Region Education Council (CREC) is participating in the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) as part of the National School Lunch Program for school year 2020-21. Under this provision, participating districts and schools provide free breakfast and lunch to all students at all times. All students enrolled at the following schools will receive meals through the School Breakfast Program and National School Lunch Program at no charge. Household income applications are no longer required to determine eligibility for free or reduced-price meals at schools participating in the CEP. All students will be served breakfast and lunch at no charge at the following sites:CREC John J. Allison Jr. Polaris CenterCREC Civic Leadership High School CREC Ana Grace Academy of the Arts Elementary SchoolCREC Reggio Magnet School of the ArtsCREC Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts Middle School (grades 6-8) For additional information please contact:Jeff Sidewater, Food Services Program CoordinatorCREC (Capitol Region Education Council)147 Charter Oak Avenue, Hartford, CT 06106 O: 860-509-3774 F: 860-524-4001Email: jsidewater@crec.org###The Capitol Region Education Council was established in 1966 and is celebrating 50 years of academic excellence. 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 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 18 interdistrict magnet schools. More information about CREC and CREC’s award-winning schools is available at www.crec.org. ...

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Aug 4

CREC Magnet Schools Announce Second Cohort of Teacher Residency Program

(Hartford, Conn.) The Capitol Region Education Council (CREC) has hired 15 new qualified applicants to take part in the second cohort of the groundbreaking recruitment and retention model for teachers of color, the CREC Teacher Residency Program (TRP). CREC began the program in summer 2019 with approval from the CT State Department of Education. Eleven residents who completed year one of the first cohort, are set to begin the 2020 school year teaching in an elementary school classroom. Once accepted into the program, residents begin their 14-month road to elementary certification, starting with a six-weeks of intensive summer courses to prepare them for the year. Residents are each paid a salary, with benefits, as they work side-by-side with a mentor teacher for one year. Residents who successfully complete the certification requirements are then guaranteed a full-time classroom teaching positions in the second school year. CREC’s idea through this program is to prioritize minority candidates’ potential to work with diverse students and minimizes barriers to traditional certification program admission.This year, to expand participation in this program, CREC partnered with the Bristol, Ellington, and Southington school districts to place residents in their school as well. The three districts make the same commitment to the residents, but CREC still provides all the instruction and supervision towards earning their certification.The CREC TRP also received a grant to partially fund and sustain the program, from the NewSchools Venture Fund’s Diverse Leaders investment area. According to the NewSchool’s website, “Our goal is for the PreK-12 education workforce to mirror the racial demographics of U.S. students…NewSchools’ Diverse Leaders strategy aims to close the diversity gap by recruiting, retaining, and supporting Black and Latino leaders in education.”In addition to the grant from NewSchools, CREC TRP has also received some private sponsorship funds from Vistra Energy, a frequent donor to CREC’s Athletics program.This residents in the 2020-2022 cohort of the CREC TRP and their school placements are:Karen Adenken, CREC Academy of Aerospace and Engineering Elementary SchoolJohanna Carrasquillo, CREC Discovery AcademyTobias Ceasar, CREC Museum AcademySashana Forbes, CREC Academy of Aerospace and Engineering Elementary SchoolJoshua Fritho, CREC Academy of Aerospace and Engineering Elementary SchoolYasmin Goodley, Glastonbury-East Hartford Magnet SchoolMiltonette Hayles, Southington Public SchoolsAurora Hill, Glastonbury-East Hartford Magnet SchoolRichard Jernigan, Southington Public SchoolsJovanni Lawrence, Ellington Public SchoolsRe’Shantia Mundle, CREC Academy of Aerospace and Engineering Elementary SchoolOvidio Munis, Bristol Public SchoolsMichelle Straker, CREC Discovery AcademyKevin Taylor, Bristol Public SchoolsTammy Walton, CREC Discovery AcademyPhotos and biographies of the new residents can be made available upon request. Placements for residents going into their second year are not yet complete as the CREC schools fill out their staff for the upcoming school year, but some residents have already been placed in classrooms at CREC Academy of Aerospace and Engineering Elementary School, CREC Ana Grace Academy of the Arts Elementary School, CREC Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts Middle School, CREC Museum Academy, and CREC Two Rivers Magnet Middle School.CREC is thrilled to have these passionate and well-trained educators join the staff as certified teachers this fall. A social-distanced celebration of their achievement is scheduled for Tuesday, August 18, 2020 at 3 p.m. at CREC Museum Academy, 11 Turkey Hill Road in Bloomfield. ###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 changing 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 16 interdistrict magnet schools and two magnet programs. More information about CREC and CREC’s award-winning schools is available at www.crec.org....

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Jun 30

CREC and Partners Receive Award to Manage Federal Head Start Program

(Hartford, Conn.) The Capitol Region Education Council (CREC), along with Catholic Charities, The Village for Families and Children, and Area Cooperative Educational Services (ACES), received a $9.1 million award to develop a partnership that will manage the regions’ federal Head Start and Early Head Start programs.CREC will manage and lead the program, and also led the efforts to secure the award through their Grants and Development Office. The program will serve 426 children, birth through age five, in the Hartford/Middlesex Area. “CREC is excited to have been selected to manage and operate Early Head Start and Head Start programs in the Hartford and Middlesex counties,” said CREC Executive Director Greg Florio. “With the help of our wonderful partners, Catholic Charities, the Village for Families & Children, and our sister regional education service center, ACES, we look forward to providing early childhood education and support services to children—birth to five—and pregnant women. We have planned significant wraparound services to help families give their little ones a great start in life.  And we have just the partners with whom to do this important work.”  “This federal funding will help grow Head Start early education programs, helping hundreds of our youngest learners thrive during these critical early years. We know that kids who participate in Head Start are served by that experience for decades to come – helping them to succeed in school and into adulthood. We’re proud to advocate for increased funding for these programs so they can continue to support Connecticut families for years to come,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Sen. Chris Murphy, Rep. Rosa DeLauro, Rep. Jahana Hayes, and Rep. John Larson wrote in a jointly-issued statement from the Connecticut Congressional Delegation.“We are thrilled to be able to continue to deliver the work to our Head Start and Early Head Start community members in Middlesex County and the ACES region,” said Executive Director Tom Danehy, of ACES, the regional education service center serving the New Haven region. “Providing equity for those in poverty and in need of educational supports helps to level the playing field regardless of one’s racial, ethnic or economic status so that all have access to education, a key to life-long upward mobility. Thanks to Becky Cuevas, our team at Middlesex County Early Head Start, and CREC, ACES is able to continue this work.”“We are very excited about this partnership, which will help us to build on our continuum of services for families with young children, from prenatal care through age five and entrance into kindergarten,” said Marek Kukulka, CEO of Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Hartford. “We express appreciation to our friends at CREC and to all who support our work to provide help and create hope to people of all faiths and backgrounds.”“This is a time of great stress and uncertainty for many families, and so this grant could not come at a better time,” said Galo Rodriguez, president and CEO of the Village for Families and Children. “The Village has a team of dedicated staff with the training and experience to make an immediate impact, and we are grateful for the opportunity to help. We will continue to build partnerships and innovative strategies to ensure all families and children get the support they need.”  The funding for the award comes from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office of Head Start. ###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 changing 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 16 interdistrict magnet schools and two magnet programs. More information about CREC and CREC’s award-winning schools is available at www.crec.org....

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Jun 20

CREC Teacher Wins CEA Human and Civil Rights Award

(Wethersfield, Conn.) The Connecticut Education Association (CEA) announced in June that STEM Coach Clare Neseralla of CREC Discovery Academy is the 2019-2020 recipient of the Harvey Milk – Sylvia Rivera Award for Challenging Discrimination Related to Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation. The award is one of several Human and Civil Rights Awards that CEA hands out each year. Neseralla’s success in starting Discovery Academy’s student Gender-Sexuality Alliance (GSA) club and her work serving on the CREC School Advisory Council on LGBTQI+ Affairs are the reasons CEA chose her for the prestigious award. “I love that my district is taking steps toward inclusion and embracing diversity,” said Neseralla. “Our students love having a space to talk and want to do outreach in our school and the community. I am grateful for all the staff members that volunteer their time to run our five clubs.” The GSA clubs at Discovery Academy meet regularly for over 90 minutes and use literature and classroom lessons to create a safe share-and-talk space for the participating students. All students in grades Pre-Kindergarten through fifth-grade, ages 3 to 11, are welcome to join the GSA clubs. Discovery Academy separates the clubs into three different groups by grade level. The Pre-K through first-grade group, the Community Club, focuses their conversations on compassion, acceptance, and understanding. The second and third-grade group, the Friendship Club, focuses on being good friends, different family structures, and ally support for LGBTQI friends. The fourth and fifth-grade group named their club PEPPA – which stands for pride, encouragement, people, peace, acceptance – and they focus on action by raising money to bring awareness to their cause. In the past, PEPPA has sold t-shirts and held bake sales to fund performances for the school that teach tolerance and bring in community members who work on similar causes to speak to the whole school. “All the Discovery teachers teach compassion in their classrooms,” said Neseralla about the more than twelve staff members who assist in moderating the clubs. “Sometimes, a smaller group offers a sense of belonging where students feel acceptance. Neseralla wanted to be sure that students feel accepted and have a ‘safe space’ to know they can be themselves.”“CREC is a social justice organization that allows all children to be comfortable and accepted for who they are,” said Superintendent Tim Sullivan. “We are a place where diversity is not only allowed, but a place where we actively work to assure that all of us believe on a deep spiritual level that we are stronger because of our diversity. We really are better because we are not all the same.”Neseralla was nominated for the award by Meg Smith, a fifth-grade teacher at Discovery Academy. To be eligible for the award, according to CEA, nominees must have developed or implemented a community-wide, school-wide, or individual program within the school that meets one or more of the following criteria:Furthers an understanding and an appreciation of the achievements of LGBTQQI people. Combats discrimination related to sexual orientation or gender identity in the public school community.Promotes training for educators, based on equity, related to gender identity and sexual orientation.Enhances the lives of LGBTQQI students and/or the children of LGBTQQI parents.The award is named after Harvey Milk, nationally recognized leader of the movement for gay and lesbian rights, who was fatally shot in 1978 and Sylvia Rivera, a transgender activist and important leader in the 1969 Stonewall Riots. “I am thankful that [my child] is at a school that educates the whole child and is not afraid to proudly address issues that most school systems shy away from,” said a parent of a student who participates in the Discovery Academy GSA clubs. “A child is NEVER too young to talk about love, kindness, and acceptance.”The CEA Human and Civil Rights Awards are usually presented in person during CEA's Representative Assembly (RA) annual convention in May. However, due to the situation involving COVID-19, CEA will hold an online RA. CEA also plans to highlight each award winner on their website, www.cea.org. Clare Neseralla###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 changing 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 16 interdistrict magnet schools and two magnet programs. More information about CREC and CREC’s award-winning schools is available at www.crec.org....

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Mar 24

CREC Sponsoring Social Distancing Video Contest

(Hartford, Conn.) On Tuesday, March 24, CREC Superintendent of Schools Timothy J. Sullivan Jr. announced that CREC is sponsoring a video contest for students to promote the importance of social distancing during a global pandemic.“I cannot overemphasize the importance of social distancing… Stay Safe, Stay Home,” Sullivan’s email to CREC families read. “To help emphasize this point, CREC is sponsoring a video contest. We are asking students to write, direct and/or act in a video that sends a strong message about social distancing.”The email included a link to a form for students to submit their video via URL. The form can be found at http://www.crec.org/c/sdvidcontest“It can be a music video, comedy, sci-fi, documentary, animation, Public Service Announcement, etc.,” Sullivan said.The rules for submission are:1) Submit a link of a video that must be posted to YouTube (unlisted), Vimeo (private link), or Google Drive (shared with anyone with link)2) Your video cannot be longer than 60 seconds3) Must be written, directed, and performed by PreK-12 public school student(s) from Connecticut4) Must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, April 5.5) Students working collaboratively must do so remotely Contest winners will be decided by a panel of impartial judges, yet to be named, and the prizes are $400 for first place, $200 for second, and $100 for third. Winning videos and runners-up will be shared publicly, and winners will be announced at the end of April.“We think the best way to get students to listen to the message about social distancing is for them to hear it from each other,” said Sullivan about the motivation for such an endeavor. “The contest lets them find their voice around a critical issue in a medium they have mastered. We see it as a win-win.”An anonymous $700 donation to the CREC Foundation, designated for multimedia enrichment, will fund the prizes.The contest and prizes are sponsored by CREC, but it is open to all students in Connecticut, and CREC hopes that other area superintendents share with their families as well. ###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 changing 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 16 interdistrict magnet schools and two magnet programs. More information about CREC and CREC’s award-winning schools is available at www.crec.org....

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Oct 18

CREC Discovery Academy's Butterfly Garden Recognized by National Wildlife Foundation

(Wethersfield, Conn.) Students and staff at CREC Discovery Academy in Wethersfield successfully created a Certified Schoolyard Habitat® in the butterfly garden outside their school. The National Wildlife Federation (NWF), America’s largest wildlife conservation and education organization, approved the recognition through their Garden for Wildlife program, officially on October 8. Discovery Academy joins over 5,000 schools nationwide that have transformed their schoolyards into thriving wildlife habitats that provide essential elements needed by all wildlife – natural food sources, clean water, cover and places to raise young. The habitat, part of the school’s Bioswale (rain garden) installed in spring 2019, also serves as an outdoor education site where students can engage in cross-curricular learning in a hands-on way. Certification also makes the NWF Certified Wildlife Habitat® part of the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge, a national effort to restore critical habitats for pollinators. “We are excited to have another school join our growing list of more than 5,000 certified Schoolyard Habitats,” said Liz Soper, Director of K-12 Programs for National Wildlife Federation. “Kids can now personally experience nature through hands-on learning in an outdoor environment,” Discovery Academy’s Bioswale is used for scientific plant observations with students. In the spring each year, PreK students release butterflies they hatch in the classroom. The goal was to get the area certified as a wildlife habitat with the National Wildlife Federation. In March, the school’s STEM Coach, Clare Neseralla, applied for and received a $400 mini-grant from the Connecticut Ornithological Association to add more bird and butterfly friendly features to attract wildlife. She also included student-made binoculars and birdhouses. “I saw the butterfly garden as an opportunity to teach the students about native plants and learn more about the environment,” said Neseralla, an avid gardener who also supports the school’s rooftop garden and PreK garden beds. “The observations of wildlife through binoculars opens up a whole new world of nature. Now that the garden is certified we can promote more gardens in Connecticut by sharing this project and placing the NWF signs in the garden.”The butterfly garden is a true homegrown project. A Discovery Academy grandfather, Jim Woodworth, helped select and plant the bird and butterfly-friendly plants. All plants purchased are native to Connecticut from the Connecticut Conservancy annual plant sale at Auer Farm in Bloomfield. Students in Kindergarten and parents helped clear a corner of the bioswale for the butterfly garden.According to NWF, “the Garden for Wildlife program encourages responsible gardening that helps pollinators and other wildlife thrive… It encourages planting with native species like milkweed and discouraging chemical pesticide use. Each of the nearly 200,000 certified locations provides food, water, cover and places to raise young. This makes yards, schools, businesses, places of worship, campuses, parks, farms and other community-based landscapes into wildlife sanctuaries.” CREC Discovery Academy’s website is http://da.crecschools.org ###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 changing 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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Aug 19

Over 3000 Members of Hartford Community Celebrate 5th Annual CREC Back to School Block Party

(Hartford, CT) Hundreds of families from Hartford and surrounding towns attended the Fifth Annual CREC Back to School Block Party on Wednesday, August 14, a free community event hosted by the Capitol Region Education Council (CREC) and CREC Foundation, to celebrate the upcoming school year and prepare students for class with a backpack and school supplies giveaway. This year the lead sponsor was Owens Realty, who provided the largest financial contribution to the event. To commemorate the fifth anniversary, CREC closed a portion of Charter Oak Avenue to make extra space for the event. “I’ve always said it’s my favorite event of the year. It’s so important to give back to the region and to make sure kids are ready to go back to school and feel ready to go back to school,” said CREC Executive Director Greg Florio.Hartford Fire and Police departments, Our Piece of the Pie, The Governor’s Prevention Partnership, Access Health CT, Southside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance, and Girl Scouts of CT were among more than 30 local organizations that offered information and resources to parents throughout the event. The block party kicked off at 3 p.m. with free balloons, snacks, and activities that included a “Hope Line” where children wrote their hope for the school year. Over 75 free haircuts provided by Puerto Pelo by Mary and Connecti-Cuts, a fitness workout led by Sudor Taino, raffles, field games, origami tutorials, a puppet show, and ice cream provided by Ice Cream for a Dream were among the event’s attractions. The Back-to-School Block Party’s main event was the giveaway, with 1,200 backpacks filled with school supplies given to children from the Hartford area. Hot 93.7 broadcasted live from the Block Party.“No matter what school a child attends, we are committed to helping them start the school year in a positive way,” said Superintendent of CREC Schools Tim Sullivan. “It’s our number one goal.”El Bori and Rolling Dish food trucks were stationed on the closed street offering affordable, $5 prix fixe menus to the attendees.In addition to Owens, contributions from sponsors, including Aetna, Voya Financial, the Ryan T. Lee Foundation, Global Atlantic Financial, Air Temp, Downes Construction, Friar Architecture, and from CREC employees, were used to purchase the backpacks and school supplies. Members of the community also dropped off donations of school supplies at the CREC “Fill-A-Van” event at the Rocky Hill Walmart on July 25 and 26. The event was free and open to anyone from the Greater Hartford area.###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 16 interdistrict magnet schools. More information about CREC and CREC’s award-winning schools is available at www.crec.org....

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