Hartford Public Schools and Trinity College: Partners

To Members of the Campus Community:

Less than a year ago, as we announced at the Faculty Meeting on February 8, 2011, Hartford Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Steven Adamowski, proposed to me that Trinity partner with the award-winning Hartford Magnet Middle School (HMMS) to create Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy (HMTCA). HMTCA will be a college preparatory school that will expand the middle school’s program to include high school. HMMS today serves grades 6–8. Starting this September the school will add 9th graders each year so those who start this fall will be seniors in the Academy in the 2014-2015 school year.

During our recent Commencement week the Hartford Board of Education and the Trustees of Trinity College approved this historic partnership and, rather serendipitously, the Hartford Magnet Middle School was named the number one magnet school in the nation for 2011. Principal Sally Biggs and her team won the Dr. Ronald P. Simpson Distinguished Merit Award from the Washington, DC-based Magnet Schools of America Association. Of the nearly 6,000 magnet schools in the country, HMMS most exemplifies a commitment to diversity, high academic standards and achievement and to curriculum innovation. The Tuesday following Commencement some 55 HMMS students were inducted into the National Junior Honor Society in the Washington Room, where Dean Fraden and I welcomed and congratulated the students, their families, and HMMS staff members.

This morning Superintendent Adamowski, Superintendent-Designate, Dr. Christina Kishimoto, Dean of the Faculty Rena Fraden, school Principal Sally Biggs, and I held a press conference at Hartford Magnet Middle School to sign the Memorandum of Understanding and to announce the launch of Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy.

The key provisions of the Memorandum provide ways in which Trinity will assist the Academy to prepare students to gain admittance to and succeed in college.
  • Trinity will advise in the design and updating of the Academy’s curriculum to ensure its college orientation—this year Trinity’s faculty has 10 “Curricular Consultants” paired with departments at the Academy
  • Trinity will co-teach, with Academy teachers, pre- 9th grade writing and study skills summer classes.  This year five sections will be held for the approximately 109 rising 9th graders who comprise the Academy’s first high school class
  • Trinity will co-teach, with Academy teachers, pre-10th grade science and technology skills summer classes, beginning in the summer of 2012 when the Academy will have its first 10th grade students
  • Academy students will be able to take college level courses for credit in their senior year of high school if they meet qualifications to enter such courses set solely by Trinity faculty, and subject to Trinity’s class size limits
  • Academy students will, with the Trinity Registrar’s approval of space and schedules, be able to take their senior year high school level courses on the Trinity campus to experience a college schedule and environment—first seniors will be the class of 2015
  • The Academy Principal’s office and appropriate Trinity personnel, coordinated by the Secretary of the College, will organize interaction between the two schools including student mentoring, student internships, use of Trinity’s facilities for any purpose, attendance at major college events, use of the Academy’s award winning band at Trinity events and so forth, subject of course in all instances to mutual agreement and the Trinity calendar of events
  • Trinity will chair and have representatives on the Academy’s governing council, which includes parents, teachers, students, and administrators
Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy will be a tangible and relevant commitment on Trinity’s part to deepen our connection and service to the community. The Academy will be a living and concrete element of the urban aspect of Trinity’s curricular focus and it will appropriately utilize the College’s intellectual capital and core competencies. Our work in connection with the Academy will become a substantive component of the “DNA” of Trinity College. Our use of “Trinity College” in the Academy’s name symbolizes our institutional commitment to education in the Greater Hartford area and underscores the Academy’s seriousness of purpose in preparing students for higher education. The partnership of a college of Trinity’s caliber with a college preparatory public high school is indeed historic and one that Dr. Adamowski believes will establish a new model nationwide.

At the beginning of the fall semester Dean Fraden will host a meeting of the faculty to consider ways to ensure Trinity’s long term beneficial advisory work to the Academy.  In addition, we will consider how to think creatively over the near and long term to optimize the benefits to the College from this historic partnership with an urban school.

The primary aspects of our engagement will be academic and curricular advisory work and administrative interaction with the Academy. The current plan is to coordinate the overall relationship and provide a “clearinghouse” for special event ideas with Bill Reynolds’ office as Secretary of the College. The direction of our academic work will, of course, be lodged in Rena Fraden’s office as Dean of the Faculty.

The Dean’s office is represented on the committee I appointed last summer to work on forming our partnership with the Academy. Bill has chaired the committee from inception. The committee comprises all divisions and departments at Trinity and includes Paul Mutone, Vice President for Finance; Jason Rojas, Director of Community Relations; and Megan Fitzsimmons, Director of College Events and Conferences, in addition to Associate Academic Dean Melanie Stein (originally Tom Mitzel) and Associate Professor Stefanie Chambers from the Academic division. I plan to add someone from the Dean of Students operation to the committee this summer. And, over the summer we will delineate policies and reporting lines and will be prepared to review them with the campus community at the start of the fall term at the College.

I am very proud of our Trustees for seeing the potential in this education and community partnership. Also, I am especially proud of the faculty members who have agreed to teach the first summer writing and study skills sessions and those who will serve as our initial curricular consultants to the Academy. The following page lists these faculty whose work and relationship building is already in progress.

Yours very truly,

James F. Jones, Jr.
President and Trinity College
Professor in the Humanities