Governor Malloy: Gov. Malloy Views Turnaround Initiatives During Visit to Commissioner's Network School

{Governor Malloy Press Release Masthead}
 May 12, 2014
(HARTFORD, CT) — Governor Dannel P. Malloy today visited the Robert J. O’Brien STEM Academy in East Hartford, where parents, teachers and administrators expressed high hopes for improved student outcomes as part of the Commissioner’s Network.
“The hard work and commitment already displayed by the teachers, administrators and parents at O’Brien is a critical component of how we turn around a struggling school,” said Governor Malloy.  “It takes everyone pulling in the same direction to achieve results.  By concentrating on STEM, the work done by everyone at O’Brien will ensure that we are preparing more of our children for 21st Century jobs.”
The Commissioner’s Network is Connecticut’s lead initiative to turn around some of the most chronically low-performing schools in the state.
“The NAEP scores released last week show that Connecticut's efforts are having a positive impact on student achievement, but much more work remains to be done. To the credit of the teachers, parents and administrators on the Planting Seeds for Achievement Committee, O’Brien submitted a comprehensive, thoughtful plan to improve outcomes for its students," State Department of Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor said.  “We welcome O’Brien into the Commissioner’s Network and look forward to working with members of the O'Brien school community as they implement the strategies outlined in their turnaround plan.”
O’Brien, serving kindergarten through Grade 6 students, has demonstrated some progress in improving student achievement in recent years. East Hartford Public Schools and O’Brien’s teachers and school leaders share a desire to accelerate this progress. Together, they believe that the school can become a statewide model for transformation and student achievement with the additional focus, funding and flexibility provided by the Commissioner’s Network.
“We are thrilled to be a part of the change going on in Connecticut schools.  The plan at O'Brien school has been crafted by teachers and parents to put students’ needs first,” Superintendent Nathan Quesnel said.  “I am proud of what we have accomplished and thrilled at where we are headed.”
A cornerstone of O’Brien’s turnaround plan is the expansion of the STEM program and providing more opportunities for students to put their learning into practice through hands-on expeditions. Teachers will have the advantage of more time to collaborate with colleagues to design curriculum while also receiving more high-quality professional development opportunities.
In addition to the academic and teaching strategies, the turnaround plan creates a new Family and Community Outreach Coordinator at the school. The coordinator will foster meaningful family and community engagement opportunities and facilitate better communications between the school and families. O’Brien will also receive a new, full-time social worker will help to address students’ nonacademic needs.
This year, Connecticut is investing more than $15 million in Commissioner’s Network schools. This is the third group to join the network, bringing the total to 16 schools serving nearly 10,000 students.
Acceptance into the Commissioner’s Network authorizes intensive interventions and enables the supports needed to dramatically improve student achievement through bold, research-based reforms. It qualifies schools for additional flexibility, autonomy, and resources, such as grants and other funding, in exchange for greater accountability. The Commissioner of Education selects schools to participate in the network for three to five years.
For Immediate Release: May 12, 2014
Contact: Samaia Hernandez
Office of Governor Dannel P. Malloy
860-524-7314 (office)
860-770-8298 (cell)
Contact: Kelly Donnelly
Director of Communications and Community Partnerships
State Department of Education
860-713-6525 (office)
860-983-1550 (cell)