OUR DISTRICT:  Preparing Students for College and Career

OUR DISTRICT: Preparing Students for College and Career

Hartford Public Schools considers it a duty to prepare all students for what awaits them as adults. Therefore it is a mission to inspire and prepare all students to create their own success in and beyond school.

As part of that mission, Hartford Public School designates October as College and Career Readiness Month. The month-long event raises awareness among high school students of post-secondary school opportunities and ensures students are equipped with information to make college and career decisions.

The first event was hosted by The College of Education, Nursing and Health Professions last week. Over 70 Hartford Public High School seniors came to the University of Hartford to take part in the kick off. As the facilitator of the day’s agenda, Sonia Dinnall, Hartford Public Schools, Executive Director of College and Career Readiness, engaged and connected with the crowd.

Sonia Dinnall, Hartford Public Schools, Executive Director of College and Career Readiness (left) jokes with the choir’s soloist, making sure she gets his autograph before he gains world-renown.

Dinnall emphasized her commitment to student success and highlighted her relationship with the University of Hartford, where she serves as a Board of Visitors member for the College of Education, Nursing and Health Professions.

Speakers included representatives from the University of Hartford and Hartford Public Schools including:

  • David Goldenberg, Interim Dean of the College of Education, Nursing and Health Professions
  • Leslie Torres-Rodriguez, Assistant Superintendent for Instructional Leadership, Hartford Public Schools
  • Michael Maziarz, Principal, Hartford High School Academy of Engineering and Green Technology
  • Gary Lotreck, 2016 Teacher of the Year, Hartford Public Schools
 Dr. David Goldenberg speaks at the Fifth Annual College and Career Readiness Kick-Off Event.

Kadian Hall, a current University of Hartford student and former Hartford Public Schools student also spoke telling students “Your net worth is your network,” highlighting the value of a University of Hartford education and the network you build through internships.

University of Hartford student Kadian Hall speaks at the Fifth Annual College and Career Readiness Kick-Off Event. He delivered crucial tips for future success, reminding the students, sagely, that, “Their network is their net worth.”

“You get experience here, with small classes and access to faculty office hours,” Hall told the students. “The internships you get here separate you from a Harvard graduate with a 4.0 and no experience.”

Kenny Nienhusser, Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership, who studies college access, highlighted the importance of partnerships between the institutions,  “It is great to have the launch of Hartford Public Schools College and Career Awareness Month at the University of Hartford,” said Nienhusser. “Today’s high school students face numerous challenges during their college choice process, and events such as this highlight the importance for K-12 systems and postsecondary education institutions to partner in addressing the barriers students and their families face relative to greater college participation.”

The HPHS Nursing Academy Choir perform at the Fifth Annual College and Career Readiness Kick-Off Event.

The event also included excellent, inspirational performances from the Hartford Public High School Nursing Academy Choir, led by Lisa Clayton.

Mr. Michael Maziarz, Principal, Hartford High School Academy of Engineering and Green Technology, implored the students to realize that their graduation from high school is about more than just themselves; it is about their younger classmates and siblings, about their families and community, and about all of Hartford.

College and Career Readiness Month includes the following important events and programs for college and career minded students and their families:


College Affordability Planning

Sat, October 15, 9:15am – 10:45am

Where Bulkeley High School, Auditorium, Wethersfield Avenue, Hartford, CT, United States


Description Presentation by Mark E. French, Director, Student Financial Aid at the Connecticut Office of Higher Education. Learn how to effectively plan for the cost of college! To register: Lauren Martin, Lauren.Martin@hartfordschools.org or 860-695-8707


PSAT & SAT College-Entry Testing

Wednesday, Oct 19, 2016

Various Hartford Public Schools schools (map)

Every sophomore and junior will take the PSAT. Seniors in qualifying high schools will take the SAT. These tests make it possible for students to qualify for scholarships and financial aid. For more information, students contact their School Counselor.


College Goal Sunday

Sunday, Oct 23, 2016

Where Various locations throughout CT and the greater Hartford region


Description FREE FAFSA support to ALL students and families. Have all your FAFSA questions answered! Register: www.collegegoalsundayct.org/


Free College Financial Planning Workshop

Tue, October 25, 6:00pm – 7:45pm
Bulkeley High School, 300 Wethersfield Ave, Hartford, CT 06114, USA
Please join us for a FREE Educational College Financial Planning workshop that will focus on high school sophomores, juniors and seniors. We’ll discuss the FAFSA form and all the other information you need to understand in order to maximize the amount of financial aid you are eligible to receive! Even if your family is not eligible for need-based aid, we will cover the best strategies on how to pay for college in the most cost efficient basis—without it putting a strain on the rest of your finances. In this workshop, you will learn: – How to increase your college-related tax deductions and tax credits – How to pick colleges that will give you the best financial aid packages – How to send your child to an expensive private university for less than a state school – Which assets are taken into consideration when the U.S. Department of Education calculates your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) – How to pay for college in a failing economy without relying on 529 plans, expensive private student loans or raiding your retirement accounts – How to get ahead by developing a customized plan to meet all the college costs you will incur as a family – How to lower your “out-of-pocket” costs and get the maximum amount of money from each school


District Advanced Placement Orientation

Thu, October 27, 6pm – 7pm

Where Journalism & Media Academy Magnet School, 150 Tower Ave, Hartford, CT 06120, USA


Description Advanced Placement courses provide an opportunity for students to earn college credit while still in high school. Learn about the benefits of AP courses through information and activities! Dinner will be provided. Contact: Jennifer Simmons, Jennifer.Simmons@hartfordschools.org


More than Money Conference

Fri, October 28, 9:30am – 1:30pm

Where Aetna Conference Center, Hartford CT


Description Students will use innovative thinking to learn money-management skills that support positive attitudes as they explore and enhance their career aspirations. (For 5th graders only.) Contact: Tamara Mitchell, MITCT001@hartfordschools.org


Community Conversations about College Readiness

Fri, October 28, 6:00pm – 7:30pm

Where Burr School, 400 Wethersfield Ave, Hartford, CT 06114, USA


Description A family night, elementary students will learn about college and career through exciting games and activities while middle and high school students and their parents connect with college & career and tools and resources. *Food and refreshments will be provided to those who register *Childcare available. Please contact Helene Morneau at 860-695-8646 or at helene.morneau@hartfordschools.org. Please indicate how many children and their ages. Not available for infants under the age of 2. *Exciting games and prizes for students! Contact info: Helene Morneau, Helene.Morneau@hartfordschools.org or (860) 695-8646


Career Tours for Middle & Elementary School Students

Middle school students from McDonough Expeditionary Learning School visited City Hall and the Public Safety Complex to learn first-hand about the many careers available in Hartford.  5th graders from from Milner School will take the tour next week.  Look for the story coming up in the next Spotlight on Excellence newsletter!


For more information visit:



This article is a collaboration between Shannon Hughes-Brown, Collegiate Director of Communication, College of Education, Nursing & Health Professions at the University of Hartford and Deb Zimmerman Herz, Communications, Hartford Public Schools.