Grantee Corner  |  Capitol Region Education Council

Two students remotely control robots while four other students watch
Academy of Science and Innovation students race their robots

An adult points at a screen a child is working on with a joystick
An Academy of Science and Innovation student uses a flight simulator to learn how to fly with FAA flight certified instructor, Doctor Polselli

Three students in lab goggles lean over a desk with paperwork
Academy of Science and Innovation students explore genetic testing in an early college course offered in partnership with the University of Connecticut

Two students work on a dummy in an ambulance
Civic Leadership High School emergency medical technician students practice patient assessment skills in the school’s emergency medical services lab

A student wearing lab goggles and gloves looks at a beaker in blacklight
Civic Leadership High School students conduct fingerprint analysis while studying forensic science

Two students sort nonperishables in a kitchen
forensic science CLHS Picture 3: Civic Leadership High School students cultivate civic leadership through service-learning experiences where students have the opportunity to give back to the community

Two students wash off dinosaur toys in a bin
Enfield PK STEAM Academy students work to uncover dinosaurs from baking soda, eggs, and ice to determine whether water or vinegar was most effective

Two girls excitedly work near a shuttle made of cardboard boxes
Enfield PK STEAM Academy students build a space shuttle, pick where their shuttle is going, and make sure their asteroid blaster is working

Three boys send a toy car down a ramp
Enfield PK STEAM Academy students build a ramp in the play lab out of large blue blocks and test different cars to see which would go down the ramp the fastest

Three boys work on a mask made of paper and ribbon
Metropolitan Learning Center students create El Dia de las Muertos displays to honor family members

Two girls work on a poster with markers
Metropolitan Learning Center students explore the process of volcanic eruptions and their impact on surrounding communities

Teenagers hand out ice cream to a group of students outside
Metropolitan Learning Center faculty and students serve ice cream to children at an orphanage in Sing Buri during a field study in Thailand

Christine Ruman, CREC Project Director

The Capitol Region Education Council (CREC) is a Regional Education Service Center for Connecticut’s greater Hartford region. CREC magnet schools enroll more than 8,000 students from 80 Connecticut towns. Consistent with CREC’s mission of “Equity, excellence, and success for all through high-quality educational services,” these magnet schools intentionally draw students from different racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. CREC’s work is grounded in four core values: expect excellence, demand equity, act with courage, and embrace collaboration. 

Interdistrict magnet schools in the Hartford region were created as a result of the landmark Sheff v. O’Neill civil rights claim made on behalf of school-aged residents in Hartford. On July 9, 1996, the Connecticut State Supreme Court held that public school students in the City of Hartford attended schools that were racially, ethnically, and economically isolated in violation of the Connecticut Constitution. The state was placed under a mandatory court order to remedy the racial isolation and disparity in educational opportunities. To attain this goal, the state created a system of interdistrict magnet programs and the Hartford Region Open Choice Program, which provides Hartford students the option to attend schools in suburban districts. CREC manages 16 magnet schools and the Open Choice program. 

Through MSAP funds, CREC, in consortium with Enfield Public Schools, is converting a pre-K school from a traditional program to a science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) magnet program, and is significantly revising three whole-school secondary magnet programs with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM); public service and leadership; and global citizenship and changemaking themes. Using the interdistrict model, the schools are designed to create equitable, diverse learning environments by fostering meaningful interactions among students.

The Enfield PK STEAM Academy enrolls Hartford and Enfield residents and operates as an Open Choice Magnet School. Classroom environments are based on exploration, inquiry, process-based art, building purposeful play scenarios, literacy, numeracy, music, and movement. The theme continues in a STEAM-themed outdoor classroom and a play lab. As students move through the curriculum, they have opportunities to use scientific dispositions, which capitalize on the young child’s natural curiosity and desire for independence while encouraging collaboration and communication.

The Academy of Science and Innovation serves students in grades 6-12. The school offers rigorous coursework in three pathways: biotechnology, computer science and robotics, and environmental engineering. In middle school, students explore all pathways and gain strong foundational content knowledge that will enable them to succeed in the areas of scientific research, engineering, and computer science. As coursework advances, students apply their learning in real-world, cutting-edge, professional environments through community partnerships and internship programs. The school has an award-winning robotics team that has won national and world championships. 

The Metropolitan Learning Center for Global and International Studies is an authorized 6-12 International Baccalaureate (IB) World School. All students participate in IB programming. Units of study are grounded in global concepts that challenge students to keep the world in mind as they learn. Global leadership and social justice themes are embedded throughout the curriculum and school culture. Students are empowered to affect change in the school, the local community, and the world. International field trips and service projects bring classroom learning to real-life contexts. 

The Civic Leadership High School is an early college, public-service-themed school serving students in grades 9-12. The school offers coursework in four pathways: public service; environmental science and community engagement; law enforcement, fire science, and emergency medicine; and law, government, and homeland security. Coursework leads to public safety certifications, and partnerships with local universities, provide students the opportunity to earn up to thirty college credits. Students apply their learning through semi-annual public service days and internships.

Project Director Christine Ruman has more than 20 years of experience evaluating, managing, and monitoring federal, state, and private grants. She has 11 years of experience with public school choice programming and desegregation efforts, including as the project director for CREC’s 2010 MSAP grant. Prior to joining CREC, Ms. Ruman served as an Education Consultant in the Sheff Office at the Connecticut State Department of Education. In that capacity, she was a member of the team charged with developing and implementing the Comprehensive Management Plan to meet desegregation requirements per the Sheff v. O’Neill stipulated agreement. Ms. Ruman expanded the Hartford Region Open Choice program, managed the regional lottery, and developed and managed the Academic and Social Supports grant to suburban school districts enrolling Hartford resident students.