Stamford Achieves, a nonprofit organization that serves as an advocate and catalyst for closing the achievement gap in Stamford Public Schools, today announced that it will launch a pilot summer bridge program designed to support the significant number of students that enter high school unprepared for the academic and social challenges awaiting them. Stamford’s economically disadvantaged population is particularly vulnerable. The new Beyond Limits Scholars Program (BLSP) will focus on basic skills training and exposure to available school and district support resources.

Participation by Stamford Achieves in the High School Call to Action Committee (HSCAC) served as an impetus for this initiative. “We have been closely tracking the eighth-to-ninth grade transition, and the success of freshmen in the public high schools,” said Andy Sklover, Director of Education and Advocacy for Stamford Achieves. “Given the urgency expressed by the HSCAC, it became abundantly clear that many students need additional assistance.”

The BLSP will begin on August 18 with a dynamic week of programming at the University of Connecticut’s Stamford campus. Approximately 30 students from Stamford’s middle schools are registered to participate in the free pilot program. Scholars were selected by a committee of middle school principals, guidance counselors, and teachers, and were required to complete an application, a program agreement, and an interview at their middle school. Participants who successfully finish the week-long program in August will be provided with additional academic, social and emotional supports throughout their 2014 – 2015 freshman year.

Thomas Pereira, Dean of Students of Westhill High School, along with teachers and guidance counselors hired by Stamford Achieves, will oversee the program. BLSP staff will also be present at the comprehensive high schools to further support its scholars, along with upper classmen who will serve as peer mentors. “As the Dean and a former ninth-grade teacher, I see the transition that our middle school students face as they move from middle school to a larger and less structured environment,” said Pereira. “It is a significant problem when many struggle with the self-direction and autonomy that high school demands. Our goal with this program is to ease the transition by exposing students to a number of different activities geared towards transitions. Hopefully they will build enough of this capacity to help them to become more self-directed learners, and peer leaders,” he said.

Thomas Pereira

Thomas Pereira, Dean of Students at Stamford’s Westhill High School, and Program Coordinator of the “Beyond Limits Scholars Program,” speaks to students and families at the program orientation in June.

Photo credit: Jack Rosenfeld.

The BLSP curriculum will include topics such as: organization and time management; note taking, study and research skills; self-efficacy; career exploration; personal goals and long-range planning; leveraging technology and social media etiquette; as well as overviews of the high school curriculum, grade requirements, guidance departments, schedules, policies and procedures.

“The concept behind the BLSP is personalization,” said Dr. Michael Fernandes, Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Schools and Chair of the HSCAC, which comprises more than 50 volunteers focused on redesigning and improving the district’s high schools. “Along with their parents, the BLSP will educate students about their high school experience, and provide them with ‘go to’ resources for academic success, like individual and small group meetings, peer mentoring, and special events, to give meaningful connections and support for their transition to high school,” he said.

Dr  Michael Fernandes

Dr. Michael S. Fernandes, Assistant Superintendent for Stamford’s secondary schools, speaks to middle school students and their families about the transition to high school, at the “Beyond Limits Scholars Program” orientation on June 9, 2014.

Photo credit: Jack Rosenfeld.

“Data, locally and from across the country, highlight the academic and social challenges of transitioning to high school,” said Sklover. “The good news is that the Stamford Public Schools are focusing on this issue and have demonstrated a commitment to identifying and implementing effective solutions. We are pleased to be launching this pilot program in collaboration with the Stamford Public Schools, Stamford YMCA, The Ferguson Library, Stamford Public Education Foundation, The Mayor’s Youth Employment Program, Future 5, and the University of Connecticut – Stamford Campus. In addition to the resources of Stamford Achieves, we gratefully acknowledge the support of Amanda & David Russekoff, the Lone Pine Foundation, The Per and Astrid Heidenreich Family Foundation, and Purdue Pharma.”

Andy Sklover

Andy Sklover, Director of Education and Advocacy for Stamford Achieves, meets with students and parents at the “Beyond Limits Scholars Program” orientation on June 9, 2014. Photo credit: Jack Rosenfeld.

For more information about the Beyond Limits Scholars Program, including information for businesses and individuals interested in providing resources or partnering with Stamford Achieves, please contact Andy Sklover, Director of Education and Advocacy at: blsp@stamfordachieves.org, or call (203) 561-5631.

About Stamford Achieves

To ensure a quality education for all students, Stamford Achieves engages with individuals, families, civic and religious organizations, associations, and corporations to identify, develop, support and promote initiatives that can narrow and ultimately eliminate the persistent achievement gap. For more information, please visit our website: www.stamfordachieves.org, sign-up for our newsletter, visit us on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/stamfordachieves, follow us on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/sachieves or send us an email at: info@stamfordachieves.org.

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Disclaimer

Stamford Achieves (SA) acts only as an intermediary between employers posting internship and job opportunities and student candidates. All hiring and compensation for work performed by students is handled directly between the student and the employer. SA also reserves the right to refuse to post or remove internship or job postings.

We do not guarantee or take responsibility for (a) the truthfulness, accuracy, quality, safety, morality, desirability or legality of employer information and position listings, (b) the ability of employers to offer internship and job opportunities, or (c) the hiring, recruiting or other practices of any employer. Students are urged to perform due diligence in researching employers when applying for or accepting employment.


For Students:

An internship, particularly for students at least 16 years of age, is a great way to get to know yourself a little better while building skills that will make you better prepared for the future. Internships can help you understand how a professional organization functions in the real world. While interning, you will have the opportunity to assess and refine your career goals. It is a “trial period”, an opportunity to test ideas about your interests and potential professions – whether it’s entertainment, non-profit, technology, health – without requiring a lengthy commitment. Just remember, no matter what you do and how long you do it for, do it to the best of your ability.

Some internships are “salaried” positions and some are strictly volunteer. Either way, you will likely gain valuable experience. Please note that most are highly competitive and you should pay close attention to the application deadlines.

Many organizations do not advertise the availability of internships or jobs and so it often requires some initiative on your part. With this portal, Stamford Achieves is seeking to aggregate internship and job opportunities for Stamford’s high school students.

Although we would ultimately like to post all student internship and job opportunities that is simply not realistic. Therefore, it is recommended that you conduct an internet search, look out for postings and check newspaper listings. Also, please use your networks – guidance counselors, teachers, parents, relatives, family, and friends – anyone who may have contacts within businesses or organizations that interest you.


For Employers:

The City of Stamford benefits tremendously from a large and diverse group of employers. These employers can and often do offer our high school students internship as well as job opportunities. However, employment opportunities are not typically aggregated so as to streamline the process for both the prospective employers and students. This portal is designed to be a simple and efficient way to maximize our tremendous resources.

We welcome your feedback as to how we can make this portal as productive and efficient as possible so please do not hesitate to email us at info@stamfordachieves.org and thanks so much for participating.

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