Hartford Public Schools First Day Tour 2015

Today the Hartford Public Schools kicked off its first day of school with a number of events across the district, including a bus tour with people from all corners of civic life. While summer isn’t officially over, this marks a change in the academic season. School is back in session in the city!

Letters 1The tour started at Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School in the Blue Hills neighborhood (North End) of the city. Students there were greeted by a large group of men of color, primarily Black men, encouraging kids coming into school on the first day. This effort was organized by Pastor AJ Johnson. The Hartford Courant made a small slideshow of some of the activities at MLK, Jr. school. Celebration at the MLK school definitely stole the show today.

The bus then made its way over to Hartford Public High Public School (HPHS). (That’s where I met up with the tour.) The stop focused on serious engineering work done by HPHS students to build and send a renewable energy outfit to Nepal and then a brief showing of a previous robotics project.

Students spoke in detail about the energy project, which Vanessa de la Torre at the Courant picked up as a story a few weeks ago. Read about it here.

Mike Maz and Students 2The principal of HPHS Academy of Engineering and Green Technology, Michael Maziarz (pictured) spoke about his academic goals for the school this year – increased graduation rates, reduced suspensions, more internships. Afterwards, I spoke with a few seniors about the upcoming school year. They were excited about taking an AP class, writing for the school newspaper, and reflecting on how long they have been at HPHS. The thing they seemed most excited about was being in the senior class (translated = the kids in charge).

Finally, the bus made its way to Breakthrough Magnet School in the city’s southwest corner. Breakthrough is one our partner schools for the Trinity College course ED200: Analyzing Schools.

We were greeted by a couple hundred students and their teachers in the parking lot. The kids and teachers made a gauntlet through the entire first floor hallway so we had to greet just about every kindergarten student on our way through the school!

The principal Julie Goldstein and founder Norman Neumann Johnson reflected on the creation of the school (it started as local charter school) and their recent award from the Magnet Schools of America organization as the best magnet school in the country. Parents talked about why they felt invested in the school and what their kids got out of attending the school.

Now the cameras disappear and the work begins for another school year in Hartford.

Have a great “first day of school” story? Feel free to comment!