September 28, 2022
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Hartford Public Schools Honor Career Pathway Success |

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Inside Hartford public schools, a growing number of students are getting exposure to career opportunities in Connecticut thanks to CBIA affiliate ReadyCT and its corporate partners. 

The school system celebrated the career pathway program’s successes this year on June 1 inside the Weaver High School Auditorium. 

Career pathways review: Pratt & Whitney’s Shangari Meleschi, Hartford High student Bryan Ortiz, Hartford High principal Flora Padro, Career Beginnings’ Awilda Rodriguez, Travelers’ Rachel Bader, ReadyCT’s Shannon Marimón, and Hartford Public Schools’ Jesse Sugarman.

Teachers and students sat alongside professionals from Pratt and Whitney and Travelers reflecting on the program’s growth and hopes for the future. 

Rising Hartford Public High School senior Bryan Ortiz is among the success stories. 

He’s one of 27 students, many enrolled in the engineering career pathway at HPHS, who will start an internship with Pratt & Whitney at the end of June. 

“I heard really good things about Pratt & Whitney from the people who interned last year, so I decided I wanted to try an interview with them and I got in,” Ortiz said.

‘Different Mindsets’

A few years earlier if you asked Ortiz about Pratt & Whitney, he probably would not have known about the aerospace manufacturer. 

“I did not see myself anywhere near this when I was a freshman in high school,” Ortiz said. 

“I did not want to do anything. I wanted to go to school and go back home when I was a freshman, but ReadyCT exposed me to really everything—different programs, different mindsets.”

“ReadyCT exposed me to really everything—different programs, different mindsets.”

Hartford High student Bryan Ortiz

Shangari Meleschi, vice president of North American repair operations at Pratt and chair of the industry advisory board engineering pathway at HPHS, said he believes the pathways provide the framework and resources to set students up for success. 

The industry advisory board brings the business voice into the school to help inform instruction in ways that help to develop core competencies in students to better ensure their career success—whether or not their career starts immediately after high school or after a college or credentialing experience.

“I think it puts into context the importance of STEM education early on in a student’s life,” Meleschi said. 

Workforce Pipeline

More than 600 other students also enrolled in pathway programs across the district this year in six different sectors. 

“It offers something traditional school settings do not typically offer,” Hartford High School principal Flora Padro said. 

She said more than 93% of students enrolled in pathway programs stay in passing status throughout the year.

That alone is a win for the district—but the programs have also proven to be a win for the companies involved. 

Travelers second vice president Rachel Bader said the insurance company has hired former pathway students after they graduate. 

“It’s not one and done with the pathway,” Bader said.  “A lot of us employers offer more for the students beyond high school.”

Experiences

In addition to internships that have led to job opportunities for students, companies like Travelers lead educational experiences for the students during the year. 

While the pandemic closed many offices to the public this year, Travelers brought a “field trip” to students.

The company demonstrated drones outside the high schools, and allowed students to compete against each other in an artificial intelligence computer game to predict property damage. 

“I felt like the students were really engaged,” Bader said.

“Employers are here. We have the spaces, we just need the students.”

Travelers’ Rachel Bader

It is those experiences that shape students’ outlooks about fields they may not have thought about previously. 

And word is reaching more of the student body. 

Next year more than double the number of incoming sophomores than outgoing seniors are signed up for the Travelers insurance and finance pathway alone.

“Employers are here,” Bader said. “We have the spaces, we just need the students.”

Pathway Programs 

Businesses and ReadyCT have been involved with programming in the Hartford Public Schools for several years, but executive director Shannon Marimón said the programs are exploding now as more and more companies invest. 

Pathways across the district for the 2022-2023 school year include:

  • Engineering and Green Technology at Hartford Public High School, powered by Raytheon Technologies
  • Allied Health at Hartford Public High School, sponsored by Hartford HealthCare
  • Leadership and Public Service at Bulkeley High School, funded through Hartford Public Schools
  • Computer Science at Bulkeley High School, funded through Hartford Public Schools 
  • Insurance and Finance at Weaver High School, sponsored by Travelers
  • Information Technology at Pathways Academy, sponsored by Travelers
  • Journalism and Media at Weaver High School, funded by Hartford Public Schools 

Strategic Structure

Marimón said the pathways have also developed over the years, and now follow a consistent strategic structure. 

Moving forward, she said the district and ReadyCT know what works. 

“We can learn from each other,” Marimón said. “We don’t have to reinvent the wheel.”

“This is a great recipe to continue for us to do great things.”

Pratt & Whitney’s Shangari Meleschi

Executives at large companies agree. 

“I think there is a lot of talent,” Meleschi said. “I think this is a great recipe to continue for us to do great things.”

Meleschi said he sees the energy in students. He believes the more students that enroll in each pathway, the more they are around like-minded individuals who believe in the careers they are exploring. 



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