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Western Bridges Gap to Help Students Succeed

 As educators across the country struggle to better prepare young students for college, Western has developed a program that is proving to get the job done.

“Building a Bridge to Improve Student Success” is a partnership between the university and Danbury and Bethel high schools. Educators collaborate to test high school juniors and seniors and then develop a curriculum to help them succeed in college. Students who participate are much less likely to enroll in remedial math and writing courses at the university, and the number of students in the Bridges program who continue past their freshman year continues to grow.

The program is supported by the state as well as private donors, most significantly Praxair in Danbury, which over the past two years has given $100,000 to the program.

More recently, Bridges educators have realized that to achieve the broadest success, work must begin in the middle school and primary grades.

Recent program additions for students at Bethel Middle School and Rogers Park Middle School in Danbury include:

  • A Young Writers Conference held in the summer
  • Regular middle school field trips to the university for lessons in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)
  • A week-long Camp College that immerses students in STEM activities
  • A junior meteorology program

Administrators are working with Danbury school officials to include students from Broadview Middle School in the program.

The university’s President’s Club support has boosted Bridges to become the premier college-readiness program in the Connecticut State University System, serving as a template for the other CSUS schools.

Future support would help Bridges involve even more students, said Dr. Abbey Zink, WCSU interim dean of the Macricostas School of Arts and Sciences.

“The great thing is we have enough data to show this program really works,” Zink said. “The more we can expand it, the more students we can support in their college careers.”


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