You. Will. Go. To. College.

Got it, pre-kindergartener? That message is about to become part of your curriculum in New Haven—and part of classroom time every month, every year, through 12th grade.

Officials unveiled that ambitious plan Monday at a press conference in the Hill Regional Career High School auditorium.

They announced that they’ve hired an outside outfit that has drawn up a curriculum for pre-K through 12 grades for teachers to drill the idea into all kids that they’re headed for college.

The plan is called “Pathway to Promise.” The mission is building a “college-going culture.”

It’s the newest part of New Haven Promise, which will offer up to a free ride to in-state colleges for New Haven public school kids who keep up good behavior and grades. The program, backed by Yale and the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, issued 110 partial scholarships last year. “Promise” is a central component of New Haven’s ambitious school-reform drive.

“Pathway” has two parts: the new pre-K-12 curriculum; and a “peer leader” effort in high schools to shepherd students through the last phase of getting into college.

The “Pathway” piece addresses one criticism leveled at “Promise,” Mayor John DeStefano said at Monday’s announcement.

Some have suggested that “Promise” scholarships will go to higher-achieving kids who would have already qualified for other college scholarships if necessary. “Pathway” aims at working with students, families, and teachers from the moment kids walk into school for the first time to focus on setting goals and learning the ropes to attend college—so “Promise can be for everybody,” as DeStefano put it.

“Scholarships,” said Superintendent of Schools Reggie Mayo, “are not enough.”

The Promise program enlisted a not-for-profit company called College Summit to develop the new curriculum.

The new “Pathways” effort involves handing teachers at every grade level ideas for how to spend six hours a month distilling the college message in their classrooms. Teachers will have leeway to decide how to break up those hours over the course of the month, Mayo said.

Paul Bass PhotoCollege Summit CEO J. B. Schramm was asked Monday how those lessons will take shape at the earliest age, pre-kindergarten. Press on the play arrow at the top of the story to watch his response.

He said teachers at that level will start by urging children to think of life career goals—like becoming a fireman, say, or president of the United States. Then the teachers will try to connect those goals to five “core” concepts of how to succeed, and eventually tie all that to attending college after high school.

“You don’t start planning for the future in the future,” Superintendent Mayo said. “You start planning today.”

Kids got a glimpse of the program at a citywide College Day held in schools last May. Now they’ll be doing monthly activities that aim to build college-going ambitions at all ages.

At the same time, the district is expanding the number of high schools that run the “peer leader” programs, where seniors are tapped to help other students get on track for college. Three more high schools—Hill Regional Career High School, New Haven Academy and Hyde Leadership Academy—have been chosen to be the next to implement the program, according to Emily Byrne, director of the college-scholarship program New Haven Promise.

The program first launched three years ago as a pilot at Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School, where seniors like Marc Lewis spread the college-going gospel to their peers. Metropolitan Business Academy and Hillhouse High spent the last year planning and are rolling out the program this fall. The rest of the city’s 10 high schools will adopt College Summit programs over the next four years, Byrne said.

Monday’s news means New Haven is on its way to become the first in the state and “one of the first in the nation” to adopt a “comprehensive pre-K to 12th grade college-going curriculum,” Byrne said. The idea is borrowed from charter schools like Amistad Academy, where college pennants mark the names of homerooms.

New Haven’s pre-K to 12 program is being paid for by private donations, including $2 million from Yale-New Haven Hospital and $300,000 from Wells Fargo Bank. The money supports College Summit’s contract with the school district, which was $290,000 in the first year and up to $650,000 in future years.

Byrne said the pre-K to 8 curriculum took shape over the past eight months. A committee of teachers, guidance counselors, principals, assistant principals and central office staff joined Byrne and College Summit to work out the details. They came up with a series of “goals, key milestones and monthly curricular activities that teachers will be implementing on a classroom-by-classroom basis.”

The result is a program “that you could literally lift to any other district in the nation,” Byrne said. She said College Summit, which previously ran college-going programs only in high schools, plans to shop the curriculum around to the school districts it contracts with in 10 states.

“I Think I Can. I Think ...”

Melissa Bailey Photo“We want teachers to be talking about college early and often,” Byrne said.

Byrne said each of the city’s middle schools has selected a teacher or administrator to take the lead on the college-going campaign. As part of the program those teachers get trained together then fan out to their schools to spread what they learned.

Students in every pre-K to 8th-grade classroom will start a college-going journal this month, in which they will keep notes on a series of college-themed activities over the year.

The plan focuses on five “core understandings”: financial awareness, self-advocacy, college 101, academic excellence and the college-to-career connection. The activities are broken down for three groups: pre-K to 3rd grade, 4th to 5th, and 6th to 8th, Byrne said.

For example, to learn about goal-setting, the curriculum suggests kids read “The Little Engine That Could” by Watty Piper. Teachers then ask students to repeat, “I think I can, I think I can,” then set a goal for themselves.

Older students will identify a career they’re interested in, and figure out what courses they’ll need to take in high school to make that happen.

The plan also calls for teachers to arrange a visit to college campuses for even the pre-K to 3rd grade group.

Promise spokeswoman Betsy Yagla said that won’t happen in every school, but if a teacher feels it is important he or she can make it happen. The activities are meant to be cost-neutral suggestions, she said. If a teacher has a better idea that meets the same objective, he or she can do that activity instead.

Perhaps a more likely activity is for kids to take virtual tours of colleges through the Web. That’s suggested for pre-K to 3rd grade. The eldest kids will be thumbing through college course guides, according to the plan.

Byrne said teachers don’t have to do all the activities laid out in the curriculum. “It’s meant to be a guide,” she said.

The curriculum aims to give kids “consistent messaging” on college-going, which will “provide a sound structure for building an aspiration toward college-going in all of our public school students.”

College Summit forbade the Independent from publishing the curriculum because it is copyrighted.

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posted by: Morris Cove Mom on September 26, 2011  11:47am

I’d also like to see New Haven raise the bar in all grade levels, for all subjects.  My daughter recently had her 6th grade math teacher tell the class that ‘this is what we learn in Russia in 1st grade’.  Ouch!

posted by: brutus2011 on September 26, 2011  2:11pm

I was very glad to read this article.


Because our kids (all kids do, really) need encouragement.

Like plants need watering.

This is good. (even though I don’t approve of NHPS management at all)

But I very much approve of this kind of message.

I just hope it isn’t some kind of election stunt.

posted by: r a on September 26, 2011  2:36pm




posted by: Ora on September 26, 2011  2:59pm

Why do we need someone to tell teachers to think college on all grade levels? If Mayo wants that, well heck, figure it out with your other administrators and put it together! You are out of control Reggie and John. Earn your keep! Will you please?

posted by: Noteworthy on September 26, 2011  5:00pm

I’m wondering the same thing. Why do we need outside consultants to tell our teachers and administrators to be drilling college into kids heads? Are they drilling vocational school in there too? Not every kid is geared to a traditional 4 yr. college. I wouldn’t be surprised to find this consultant on DeStefano’s contributor list already. Price of admission.

posted by: teachergal on September 26, 2011  6:02pm

NH needs to pay someone to come up with a curriculum to encourage kids to go to college? Teachers have been encouraging kids to work hard so they continue their education past 12th grade for years. Any good teacher has been reading books about jobs at the elementary level for years and it is part of the curriculum.  And at the upper levels the focus changes on how we address this topic but pursuing a career after graduation is always a topic discussed by teachers and students frequently.

I see kids who think that pursuing a real job is a waste because they can make much more money doing illegal jobs w/o college. How do you change that mindset? When I would talk about college and the need for good teachers my students would laugh. No interest in doing something like that. Not enough money and teachers are disrespected. I used to work for a principal who was disrespectful to kids and adults. The kids would say after she left, you’re going to take that??? Hmmmmmm!

I just can’t believe how the NHBE just continues to come up with ways to waste the taxpayers money. We need to hire outsiders to come up with ideas on how to motivate our students to go to college??? UNBELIEVABLE!!!

posted by: Ora on September 26, 2011  6:11pm

PS. I love this video, starts out with the mayor and everyone else laughing and slowly disintegrates to the mayor looking anxious,doesn’t clearly like the answers this guy is giving and looking at you (Paul)and not to happy for asking actually fair questions.
The guy was kind of worming his way through and clearly was fluffing on the answers.

posted by: oh great, a new curriculum on September 26, 2011  6:49pm

I’ve been with the district long enough to know that this will last about 3 years. Everything lasts about three years.

The old adage of “This too shall pass” remains the only constant in New Haven.

Stupski, anyone?

Good to Great, anyone?

posted by: robn on September 26, 2011  7:17pm

“You don’t start planning for the future in the future, you start planning today.”
18 year tenure Superintendent Mayo

posted by: Puzzle Pieces on September 26, 2011  7:23pm

So…Deloitte Services LLP is a one million + donor to College Summit, the non-profit that NHPS has spent BIG MONEY to bring into the schools to do things we already do.  Plus, they micromanage our guidance departments and english teachers to the point of STRESS AND MADNESS.

What is interesting about this Deloitte connection?  Ask Chicago Public Schools.  They are currently being audited by Deloitte.  This financial advisory and consulting (robbery) firm is telling CPS how they should cut costs. 

We can only safely assume that they’re lined up for us next.  Break the union, subcontract out teaching to prefab, store bought, uninspired curriculum that gets big corporate sponsorship and bam! you’ve cut costs.

Sickening.  And sad.

posted by: LOL on September 26, 2011  8:40pm

The publicity stunts just keep on coming ...

However, I blame New Haven’s taxpayers, who keep electing DeStefano mayor, who in turn keeps Mayo as superintendent.

posted by: Ora on September 26, 2011  9:30pm

OK, sorry for going on about this, but this guy is babbling and I wouldn’t hire him to consult with on how to clean my microwave. Sorry sir but you are just not cutting it. I bet the mayor gave you a snoot full afterwards.
OK,I have a great idea! The mayor should record the words “going to college, going to college, going to college” and sell the cd’s to moms in birthing classes.

posted by: MonJah on September 27, 2011  12:35am

Let’s visit this program again in 10 years.

posted by: What the? on September 27, 2011  2:40am

Incredible.  Consultant is just a fancy word for someone who wants to be paid for the work of others.  This district really has to pay a private company to do what, guidance counselors, administrators and other already do?  There are two goals here:  political campaigning by King John, and marketing by College Summit.  The consultant said this program could be used in any district, get it?  ... They dragged high school principals away from leading to be props at this bull.  Even King John was annoyed by the consultant who was completely unprepared. ...

posted by: Vote Him Out on September 27, 2011  12:40pm

Why don’t they have the 3 curriculum superintendents AND 4 Curriculum Supervisors who are being paid, I assume, to supervise the curriculum?
If we are paying for an outside company to do this what exactly are we paying:
Dr. Damaris Rau, Imma Canelli, Dr. Iline Tracey, Patricia T. D’Amore, Karen DeFur, Kenneth Mathews, Richard Therrien, for? All of these people fill positions thet fall under ‘curriculum development’.
I didn’t research the $, but my guess is there is $1M in annual salaries, anyone want to answer these questions for me. PLEAsE?

posted by: dana b on September 27, 2011  1:19pm

The punctuation in this story’s headline is proof that more people, including NH Independent staffers, should go to college.

posted by: anon on September 27, 2011  2:09pm

On another article on the Independent, “Poor Richard” aptly named this constant barrage of negativism in the comments section the “Kerekes Effect”. The comments by his supporters seem to focus on the same hate, hate, hate and blame, blame, blame, never acknowledge anything good or positive that happens here, and be sure to blame the mayor for EVERYTHING.

If Kerekes is the real leader his folowers want us to believe he is, I think it is time for him to step up and set a more positive tone. Is it really such a bad thing that New Haven teachers are promoting a college going culture to a group of young people who may not be hearing that message at home?

posted by: Vote Him Out on September 27, 2011  2:20pm

All names and positions provided by NHPS web site:

As a side note: I accidentally first went to New Haven Unified school district, in Union City California’s web site. THERE you can access that district’s budget -Not on New Haven CT’s site, that would be too transparent.

posted by: Frank M on September 28, 2011  5:22am

College Summit forbade the Independent from publishing the curriculum because it is copyrighted.

“copyrighted” really ? is this the age of wikipedia and google ?

Students and parents try:

posted by: retired teacher on September 28, 2011  8:46am

How are New Haven children supposed to go to pre-school when the majority of the seats are occupied by out of district children?  These wealthy towns surrounding New Haven choose not to provide these services. Could the reason be the tuition received for these children whose parents can easily afford private school ?  It would be interesting to track how many of these preschoolers go on to kindergarten.  I’m tired of hearing how many New Haven kindergarteners are unprepared for school when they have no opportunity to go to pre-school?

posted by: what the? on September 29, 2011  4:33am


I am a Kerekes supporter and I support educators creating a college-going culture, although all kids will not go to college.  In fact, only 30% of the people in this country actually have a college degree.  My concern is that King John and Superintendent empty suit both have already said that 80% of New Haven Public School graduates attend college.  If that percentage is accurate, isn’t there already a college-going culture in NHPS?  My other concern is that the company is being paid a lot of money to have un-certified, untrained people come in and tell certified counselors and administrators what to do.  Getting a week’s training from College Summit does not make a person an expert, or even competent.  Would you want to fly in a plane whose pilot received one week of training, or do you want the licensed pilot?  The most important variable in creating a college-going culture is the parent.  Parents who are committed to making sure their children go to college will engage in certain, identifiable behaviors that steadily increase the likelihood that their kid will attend and graduate from college.  Unless this program attempts to organize parents and work with educators, it will just be another give away to private business.  I wonder who wrote the superintendent’s remarks for him.

posted by: clifton graves.jr. on September 29, 2011  12:42pm

While I have serious issues with the motive and shortcomings of the “Promise ” program,I nonetheless applaud the efforts of citizens like Ms, Shani, to enlighten the public on the necessity of “raising” the proverbial “bar” for our children and parents….In my opinion the program is way too narrow in focus-it clearly needs to be expanded to include those wanting to attend voc-tech schools….That said….we as a community need to find ways to improve the overall quality of our schools…...and “promise” all of our children…parents..and teachers that a better day is coming…..that quality education for the many..not the few, will be our priority…

posted by: r a on September 30, 2011  6:54am

I like the comment above that blames the New Haven Taxpayer for electing DeStefano, well there you have the answer.

Eighteen years is way too long, and New Haven and the taxpayers have suffered immeasurably from the economic incompetence and arrogance of an incumbent who does not have a clue on the real fiscal and social ills that we face.

We need a new man in city hall.  I know Jeffrey Kerekes and he has been at every budget meeting for years downtown, he has spear-headed the NHCAN Movement which has focused on the problems of the city and how to address them.  Here is a man who truly has New Haven’s welfare as his first priority.

Come out and vote, it is distressing to see the abysmal turnout and apathy of the cities voters, “One Vote Can Make A Difference”, it always has and always will—because it is the voice of the individual who is a committed active citizen.

New Haven needs an new man and a new start.  Kerekes for Mayor!  I ask all who desire better to vote, to learn more about Mr. Kerekes platform go to