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
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
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.”