The University of Hartford celebrated its 12-year connection to the Farmington Valley Transition Academy (FVTA) with an on-campus reception and the signing of an agreement that will formalize the relationship between the FVTA and the University on behalf of the College of Education, Nursing and Health Professions (ENHP).
“We’re all here today to formalize a relationship that has grown out of an idea to help a few into a relationship that fuels a program and touches the lives of many people,” Gretchen Nelson, head teacher at FVTA, told the crowd gathered in the Shaw Center’s Regents Commons on Tuesday, Dec. 4. “I am proud, inspired and humbled to be a part of this collaborative relationship.” Nelson went on to provide an historical overview of the FVTA recognizing those who played a role in bringing it to campus and those who facilitated its growth. She also commended the collaborative efforts of ENHP Coordinator of School Partnerships Suzi D'Annolfo, special education faculty members Sheetal Sood and Megan Mackey, and Dean Ralph O. Mueller, who, through the current agreement, are charting FVTA's future through stronger academic relationships.
The FVTA brings young adults with developmental disabilities from surrounding towns to the University of Hartford campus for life-skills and vocational training. Much of that training comes in the form of on-campus jobs and volunteer work such as copying, shredding, and doing data entry in various offices. Nelson said the 31 FVTA students are projected to complete more than 13,000 hours of service on campus this year. The FVTA also serves as a training ground for students majoring in integrated elementary/special education who tutor and teach at FVTA.
The agreement, which was signed by University Provost Sharon L. Vasquez, Simsbury Public Schools Superintendent Matthew T. Curtis, and Farmington Public Schools Superintendent Kathleen C. Greider, provides for:
– promoting best practices in special education in a community/school setting through the collaboration of ENHP and FVTA faculty and administration
– providing authentic experiences where teacher-candidates can actively engage in assessments, instruction, research, and professional collaboration
– facilitating the placement of (a) University teacher-candidates into classrooms and course-related field work and (b) University undergraduate teacher-candidates and graduate students in field experiences and student teaching assignments at FVTA
– including qualified clinical faculty from FVTA to teach in ENHP’s Department of Education
ENHP Dean Ralph O. Mueller introduced University President Walter Harrison, who called the relationship between the FVTA and the University “something we are very, very proud of” and an example of how the University and local school systems “can work together to serve our citizens.” The Institute for Translational Research will provide the context within which future collaboration around research and curriculum development will take place.
Steve Risser, a 2010 graduate of FVTA, also addressed the crowd, saying, “I think the University of Hartford is stronger because of FVTA and I think FVTA is stronger because of the University.” Risser talked about the positive impact FVTA had on his life, by enabling him to work in campus dining facilities and as a manager for the women’s basketball team and the men’s baseball team. He also credits FVTA for teaching him life skills, such as how to navigate the CT Transit System, which he currently uses to get to his classes at Manchester Community College.
Nick Flynn ’14, an integrated elementary and special education major who helps place tutors from ENHP’s Educational Main Street program with FVTA, echoed Risser’s praise of the program, saying it helps students establish friendships and provides an opportunity for education majors to have easy access to a program in their major.
Adapted from UNOTESdaily 12/6/12
Head Teacher of the Farmington Valley Transition Academy (FVTA) recounts the history of the FVTA on campus. Read text of speech.