The level of commitment and dedication displayed by School Principal Paul Guzzo and his staff to support their students is evident the moment you walk through the doors at Bloomfield Public School’s Laurel Elementary School. Whether it’s ensuring a student gets on the right bus or just asking them about their day, the personal attention is a key component to ensuring that they are successful. This support includes providing students with a variety of fun and academically enriching activities, even after the normal school day comes to a close.
Students participating in Laurel’s STEAM “extended day program” engage in a wide variety of activities focused on Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Math, integrating constructive play and physical activity. Laurel staff also has worked to add to the program a focus on students’ physical activity and group problem solving. Laurel teachers are partnered with academic specialists from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Hartford, who engage students in a wide variety of activities focused on a specific theme. In January and February, the theme was “Buoyancy and Boat Design.” Every week individual classes would address the theme in the context of one of seven different subject areas, such as math.
Now, even more Bloomfield students and families will have an opportunity to benefit from the district’s extended learning program with the support of more than $493,000 in grants to Bloomfield Public Schools and Boys and Girls Clubs of Hartford from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.
The effort to develop and implement Bloomfield’s extended learning program – at Laurel and Metacoment elementary schools, as phase one - has been led by a steering committee consisting of central office leadership, seven parent representatives (one from each BPS parent teacher organization), school administrators and teachers, a board of education member, and an after school program partner. The district has also provided stakeholder training and embraced a program development strategy that for the first time included parent forums. During the past year, the district added parent liaisons to its extended learning team and it developed a structure for measuring and supporting ongoing parent engagement.
“Participation in the extended learning program also benefits parents by providing their children with a safe and nurturing learning environment after school” said Guzzo. “Laurel second grade students can participate in the program until 6:00 p.m., enabling them to not only participate in BPS’ extended learning programs but also complete their homework. This means parents will pick up their child and get them home to eat dinner and get ready for bed."
“Extended Learning is a key driver in the district’s mission to prepare our students for college and meaningful careers,” said Bloomfield Public School Superintendent James Thompson Jr. “The additional 45 minutes and the focus on STEAM is already showing promising results academically. We look forward to continuing this partnership with the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.”
The Hartford Foundation has allocated $205,345 to Bloomfield Public Schools toward its extended day program. In addition, the Foundation provided $288,000 to Boys and Girls Clubs of Hartford, supporting the direct service costs associated with its partnership with Bloomfield Public Schools and delivery of partnership programs.
“These funds will allow the district to offer the extended day program in Carmen Arace Intermediate School,” said Sara Sneed, director of education investments with the Hartford Foundation. We’re enthused because the continued growth of the program, with Foundation funds, will increase the number of students participating from 410 students in 2016-17 to 498 students in 2017-18. Our aim is to help ensure that Bloomfield strategically extends these supports for student learning where they will have the greatest positive impact on student success.”
The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is the community foundation for Hartford and 28 surrounding communities. In 2015, the Foundation celebrated ninety years of grantmaking in the Greater Hartford region, made possible by the gifts of generous individuals, families and organizations. It has awarded grants of more than $680 million since its founding in 1925. For more information, visit hfpg.org.