Courant: Hartford Public Schools Ignites Love of Learning and Prepares Student for Engineering Career
Hartford Public Schools Ignites Love of Learning and Prepares Student for Engineering Career
by Filomena Prokop
February 4, 2015
© Hartford Courant
New students and parents invited to second annual Education Expo, Saturday, Feb 21 to learn about the best an urban education has to offer.
As Hartford Public Schools prepares for the second annual Education Expo, students and parents are sharing their stories of success to encourage new students to explore education opportunities.
Andrew Prokop, a former Annie Fisher Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Magnet School student and current University High School of Science and Engineering (UHSSE) ninth grader, is well on his way to a career as an engineer. While many students do not start thinking about career goals until their junior or senior year of high school, Andrew’s mother, Phyllis Prokop, says Hartford Public Schools has helped him set goals for higher education and beyond. Andrew’s goal is to continue his education with classes at the University of Hartford and then at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to become an engineer.
“STEM has met and exceeds the goals for Andrew’s education,” said Phyllis. “It has sparked and continues to ignite his love of learning as well as his goals of going into an engineering career, whether it be in biomedical engineering, structural engineering or a technology based career.”
Every parent dreams their child will have a successful future, and the Prokops credit the Hartford Public Schools’ magnet program for directing Andrew to his pathway of success.
“We are thrilled to have made the decision to leave our local education system and become part of the magnet program,” said Phyllis. Now is the time for new students to learn about all of the education opportunities available through Hartford Public Schools.
Families are invited to learn about the Hartford Public Schools selection process at the upcoming Education Expo to be held Saturday, Feb. 21 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Expo will be hosted at Hartford Public High School, 55 Forest St., and includes information about Hartford District and Magnet School options.
Resources available at the Education Expo will showcase Hartford Public Schools’ unmatched diversity and the greatest number of theme-based schools in the entire Hartford region. The most comprehensive tool, the “Future Guide,” is available for any family at the Hartford Public Schools Offices at 960 Main St., community libraries and also online at hartfordschools.org/schools/choice. This year, Hartford Public Schools has created an animated video to help make the selection process easier. The video walks families through the nine-step school selection process and is available in four languages: English, Spanish, Bosnian and Karen (Burma).
“The city is your campus at Hartford Public Schools,” said Executive Director of School Choice at Hartford Public Schools, Enid Rey. “You can see the future from here at HPS – more themed school options, award-winning Hartford Magnet schools, and innovative district schools that are changing how education works for kids and families. Here you will find the best an urban education has to offer with new, user-friendly tools that help families best match their child’s goals and aspirations.”
The diversity of the campus was a benefit the Prokops say could not be found in their local school system. “The multi-cultural community had a strong appeal to us,” said Phyllis, who believes an education should represent a realistic version of society.
Diversity is also represented in Hartford Public School themes. “When we saw the information on Annie Fisher STEM, we were intrigued and very interested because we thought it was a perfect fit for our son – hands on actives, LEGO’s, math, science and experiments [are all part of the specialized curriculum],” said Phyllis. “We were hooked from the minute that we met Ms. Brady and saw the school. It is a state-of-the-art facility, with all the newest equipment.” Information and teachers from every school will be available at the upcoming Education Expo for future students to make connections just like Andrew did with Melony Brady, former Annie Fisher STEM Magnet School principal and his first teacher, Ms. Tamika Knight.
Phyllis says Hartford Public Schools is the best fit for Andrew because he is a “very visual, hands-on, detail-oriented student. He accepts challenges and likes to succeed in all that he tackles. The inquiry-based approach to teaching gives students the freedom to explore beyond textbooks and the classroom.” Through his Hartford Public Schools education, Andrew has had an opportunity to participate in a variety of activities beyond the classroom, including: the Connecticut Pre-Engineering Program (CPEP) designed for young engineers; the FIRST LEGO League, an interactive science and technology program; SeaPerch, in underwater robotics program sponsored by the Office of Naval Research; John Hopkins summer enrichment programs; and Odyssey of the Mind, an international education program that teaches creative problem solving.
Phyllis says Hartford Public Schools also helped her son transition into high school. “This year is a transition year for us as Andrew is now at UHSSE and he is thriving there as well. STEM has prepared him to undertake a rigorous curriculum, and he has set goals to be in the top 10 percent of his class – if not in the top one percent. He has already joined the robotics team and plans to start taking advanced placement courses at the University of Hartford. During various school programs, they had mentors from UHSSE to assist students, develop a connection and bond with high school students. This helped Andrew bridge the transition from STEM to UHSSE.”
When asked about other concerns, Phyllis mentioned the commute to a school outside of her local education system. She said, “We thought that it was going to be too stressful, but Andrew usually gets home in 20-35 minutes. He uses the time on the bus to complete homework and socialize with other students.”
At the second annual Hartford Education Expo, all families of children entering pre-kindergarten through grade 12 are eligible to apply for tuition-free education, and will have the opportunity to question principals and staff members of each school about curriculum, school theme, academic expectations, transportation and other subjects that may help them make their decision. They will also be able to fill out the school selection application for both district and magnet schools on-site and identify the schools they would prefer to have their children attend. The deadline to submit applications is Friday, Feb. 27.