Sacred Heart University received two grants that will fund the upcoming SHU Bridge Portal program. This effort will bring together Sacred Heart education students and, eventually, Bridgeport Public School students interested in careers in public education to create an educator pipeline development program.
“The goal of this program is to re-engage Sacred Heart with the Bridgeport public schools,” said Michael Alfano, dean of the Isabelle Farrington College of Education.
Alfano partnered with Maryanne Davidson, dean at St. Vincent’s College at Sacred Heart University, and Robin Cautin, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, to brainstorm ways in which Sacred Heart can come together to benefit and give back to the Bridgeport community.
The program aims to first engage SHU education students, then Bridgeport high school students interested in teaching. SHU education students may start as master’s level “residents” as early as fall 2020. Concurrently, SHU and Bridgeport Public School officials will look to identify Bridgeport students interested in becoming professional educators. Those students will enter a cohort at St. Vincent’s College and work toward their associate’s degree. The cohort will then transition to Sacred Heart’s education program to earn their bachelor’s degree. Once the students complete their undergraduate degree, they will work toward a master’s degree in teaching, while simultaneously working in the Bridgeport schools as a “resident” educator. The program will serve as a teacher pipeline for the Bridgeport school system with a goal of retaining teachers within the district.
The program will also help efforts to create diversity and resiliency within the teaching community. “Often you see that the teaching population does not represent the community they are teaching in. The program can help bring in talent of diverse backgrounds that come from within the community,” said Alfano.
“This program directly correlates with the mission of our University, part of which is to share resources and better the community. Bridgeport is one of the most underserved cities in the country; our efforts should be to engage and help our neighbors,” he said.
The program is set to launch in the fall of 2020. It will begin with students who are enrolled in the education program at SHU, and then it will slowly start to recruit students who have an interest and commitment to giving back to the Bridgeport community. Sacred Heart has a history of involvement within the community, and this program will be mutually beneficial for the students at Sacred Heart and in Bridgeport.