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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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May 1

CREC receives state approval for new Teacher Residency Program

(Hartford, Conn.) On, Wednesday, May 1, CREC’s new Teacher Residency Program was approved as an item on the consent agenda at the Connecticut State Board of Education meeting. The CREC Teacher Residency Program is an alternate route to elementary certification program that embraces a different approach to attract and retain minority teacher candidates. Ten residents chosen from the applicant pool will be assigned to ten master teachers in CREC schools to begin their 14-month road to certification starting in June 2019. Residents are each paid $32,000 per year with benefits to be mentored by their master teacher for one year. Residents are then guaranteed a full-time classroom teaching position in the second school year upon completion of the certification requirements. “For far too long we have been trying to simply recruit more teachers of color, and what we decided is that we need to certify more teachers of color,” said Tim Sullivan, Superintendent of CREC Magnet Schools. “So this program is designed to help overcome some of the obstacles that have kept people from getting certified and give them an opportunity to get certification and work in the schools. We are most excited for the opportunity to create teachers from our own schools, instead of trying to recruit them from elsewhere.”Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree, and preference will be given to applicants of color who graduated from Hartford Public Schools, CREC Magnet Schools, or the Hartford Region Open Choice Program.CREC’s idea is to prioritize minority candidates’ potential to work with diverse students and minimizes barriers to traditional certification program admission.“I thought to myself, ‘Yes! Someone understands the financial obstacle and time constraint many people of color face while pursuing graduate school,’” said Cyemone Douglas, one of the initial applicants and an Associate Instructor at CREC Montessori Magnet School, about her reaction to learning about the program. “I always had a passion to teach, but time and financial constraints prevented me from pursuing my certification.”Coursework will be required of the residents in the summer, after school hours, and on weekends. Courses were designed and will be delivered by practicing CREC educators and administrators, prioritizing skills necessary to be successful in a diverse classroom.“I am very proud to have been an active participant in the development of the CREC Teacher Residency Program,” said Lisa Cordova, president of the CREC Education Association, CREC’s teachers union. “Along with district administrators, CREC teachers, and support from the Connecticut Education Association, we spent close to two years developing this comprehensive program we have before us that addresses the continuing need to have teachers of color instructing CREC students. “ Application and rolling admissions for the program are open now until June 21, 2019. More information and the application link can be found at http://www.crecschools.org/careers/c_r_e_c_teacher_residency_program. ###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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Apr 24

CREC Athletics Receives $100,000 Donation from Vistra Energy to Fund Middle School Sports Program

(Windsor, Conn.) On Wednesday, April 24, Pete Ziegler, vice president of plant operations for Vistra Energy, a national energy company, presented the Capitol Region Educational Council’s (CREC) athletics program with a check for $100,000 at a ceremony at CREC Academy of Aerospace and Engineering. This is the fourth consecutive year that the company has made the generous donation to support the continuation of middle school sports at four participating CREC schools for the 2019-2020 academic year. “Vistra Energy is dedicated to strengthening the communities where our employees and customers live, work, and, serve. As part of this commitment, we’re honored to continue our support for CREC Athletics and its numerous youth development programs,” said Ziegler. “At Vistra Energy, we understand the value of working together as a team to achieve a common goal. The programs offered by CREC Athletics teach critical skills – including teamwork, self-confidence, and leadership – among countless other life lessons that students can use in the workforce and as leaders in their communities.”During the donation ceremony, Ziegler met student athletes, listened to essays read by four award-winning student athletes, and participated in a ceremonial check presentation.“Youth sports in our country continue to move towards privatization, and more and more, family finances are now deciding which children will or will not have opportunities to participate,” said Jonathan Winer, CREC Athletic Director. “This further emphasizes the importance of the generosity of Vistra Energy as they allow our CREC athletic program to provide opportunities for all students through school-based, cost-free middle school sports.”Funds from the donation are also being used to continue the Vistra Energy Citizen-Athlete Scholarship Award for graduating seniors. Desaray Chapman, a three-sport athlete from CREC Academy of Aerospace and Engineering, is this year’s winner and will receive a $1,000 scholarship for each of the next four years. Chapman will attend Bay Path University in Longmeadow, Mass. in the fall.The other senior scholarship finalists to present their essays were Colby Gray of CREC Academy of Science and Innovation, Samuel Agyei of CREC Metropolitan Learning Center for Global and International Studies, and Samuel Darko of CREC Civic Leadership High School. They were selected for their ability to meet challenges both on and off the playing field. Vistra Energy is a premier, integrated power company based in Irving, Texas, combining an innovative, customer-centric approach to retail electricity with a focus on safe, reliable, and efficient power generation. Through its retail and generation businesses which include TXU Energy, Homefield Energy, Dynegy, and Luminant, Vistra operates in 12 states and six of the seven competitive markets in the U.S., with about 5,400 employees. Vistra's retail brands serve approximately 2.9 million residential, commercial, and industrial customers across five top retail states, and its generation fleet totals approximately 41,000 megawatts of highly efficient generation capacity, with a diverse portfolio of natural gas, nuclear, coal, solar, and battery storage facilities. The company is currently developing the largest battery energy storage system of its kind in the world – a 300-MW/1,200-MWh system in Moss Landing, California.Also, Vistra’s power generation subsidiary, Luminant, operates two power plants in the area: Lake Road Power Plant in Dayville and Milford Power Plant in Milford.CREC offers eight different middle school sports for grades six-eight at CREC Academy of Aerospace and Engineering, CREC Academy of Science and Innovation, CREC Metropolitan Learning Center for Global and International Studies, CREC Civic Leadership High School, and CREC Two Rivers Magnet Middle School. Middle school athletes and their mascots with Jonathan Winer, Pete Ziegler, and CREC Schools Superintendent Tim Sullivan.2019 Vistra Energy Citizen-Athlete Scholarship Award Winner Desaray Chapman reads their essay.Vistra’s Pete Ziegler offers his admiration for CREC Athletics.###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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