By Monica Maccera Fillpu
On Thursday, October 10th, the CT State Department of Education (SDE) hosted a public hearing at Wilbur Cross High School for the purpose of hearing testimony relevant to Common Ground High School’s application for charter renewal. You can read more HERE about the charter renewal process.
We educators are perpetually critical of ourselves – always looking at what we can do better for our students. While that is an important part of continual improvement, the public hearing was a wonderful reminder of the impact Common Ground High School has had on the New Haven community, our students and their parents.
More than 130 people came to the public hearing. At least 70 people submitted written testimony and more than 30 people were still waiting to speak in support of Common Ground High School when the SDE ended the meeting at the legally required time. We heard from students, alumni, parents, community partners and our political leaders — all sharing why Common Ground matters to them.
Current students spoke about the leadership and identity-affirming opportunities at Common Ground.
Common Ground is an environment where you are not told who to become and pushed into their definition of a leader, but instead gives you the materials to come up with your own definition of a leader and pushes you to admire who you are and will become in the future.
-Darlenne Cazarin Berrios, Class of 2021
Parents and alumni shared how Common Ground has built an inclusive community where students are met where they are and supported to grow and thrive, preparing them for post-high school success.
I am currently a student at Southern CT State University, where I am doing very well. The preparation I received at Common Ground is the primary reason behind my academic success.
-Royan Anoh, Class of 2019
Community members spoke at length about the impact of Common Ground on the Greater New Haven community. Mayor Toni Harp said that every town should have a Common Ground. Tara Amatrudo, the principal of Connecticut River Academy at Goodwin College spoke about the professional learning opportunities Common Ground has provided through Teaching Our Cities and added, “their team has consistently modeled the practice of putting the voices of their students at the center of every conversation.”
The personal stories shared by every speaker were moving and powerful reminders of the impact Common Ground High School has had and will continue to have. As I shared in my closing remarks to the SDE, what I was most struck by “is the most basic truth of being an educator – that what matters the most is connection and relationships. Our students learn – because their teachers are effective, the curriculum is rigorous and the community connections are vast. But most of all they learn because they are in a safe, nurturing, supportive, inclusive environment.”
With that knowledge and conviction, we look forward to hearing the SDE’s recommendation on our renewal, and will continue working every day to ensure Common Ground High School students have the tools they need to “grow into their full potential and contribute to a just and sustainable world.”
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