A partnership between SHU and Fairchild Wheeler Interdistrict Magnet High School (FCW) in Bridgeport has resulted in innovative benefits. Dr. Lois Libby has been the liaison between the university and the high school. Fairchild Wheeler is a STEM campus in Bridgeport with three schools within the campus: Biotech, Engineering, and IT. The school is at full capacity with 1,500 students. It held its first graduation this year.
A graduate of the IT Masters’ Degree program at SHU, Principal Dr. Victor Black, sought help with curriculum development in the IT and Engineering School at FCW. The resulting curriculum development model has paired university faculty from the College of Education and the College of Arts and Sciences with faculty from Fairchild Wheeler to develop 16 courses over the last three years. With its federal magnet schools assistance grant, FCW has been able to mirror the media facilities in the new SHU Martire Center to build FCW’s Digital Media Program under the auspices of Professor Greg Golda. (See graphic depicting of IT curriculum at FCW.) This summer Dr. Robert McCloud in the SHU Computer Science and Information Technology department introduced all Fairchild Wheeler incoming eighth graders to IT careers and provided professional development to faculty from Fairchild Wheeler in the SHU motion capture laboratory.
The partnership has led to summer mentoring of Fairchild Wheeler faculty to become adjunct instructors for three of SHU’s Digital Media courses, which FCW students can now take for early college credit at their high school. The plan is to request early college credit for three additional courses in Digital Media and IT in the coming year. This pairing of SHU faculty with the high school allows high school students to gain exposure to the Digital Media and IT programs at the college level and to consider applying to SHU. Project Coordinator Liz Crosby has been responsible for administering the Early College Credit program.
FCW students participate in poster sessions showcasing products from Digital Media classes and, in turn, SHU Digital Media candidates are encouraged to go to work with FCW IT students. FCW is currently working with SHU faculty and staff to develop protocols for capstone projects.
The partnership has allowed Dr. Libby to develop information pieces and press releases to advertise the partnership and has afforded graduate education students to serve as interns for summer orientation and school year programs. Cynthia Crudale, a SHU chemistry teacher candidate has served as an intern and subsequently hired to teach chemistry at FCW.
The grant that supported this partnership is ending fall 2016. Dr. Libby looks to write future grants with a team of interested stakeholders to continue the joint venture with Fairchild Wheeler. Clearly, opportunities for FCW students to earn college credit are flourishing. Faculty who have shared experiences in both venues will continue to learn each other as they work with new technologies. It is likely that FCW seniors who have gained early college credit will consider applying to SHU and SHU undergraduates may consider FCW in teaching or consulting career plans.