Naugatuck Summer Bridge Planning Engages Families and Middle School Educators

By Emily Nguyen, Network Facilitator

The start of a new calendar year brings a renewed focus and energy around goals and new strategies to reach those goals. Across the RISE Network, it also signals the launch of planning efforts for summer bridge programs. Grade 9 summer bridge programs offer a no-cost, multi-week summer experiences to connect rising freshmen with their new classmates, school staff, and school community to jump start a successful high school career.

Naugatuck High School (NHS) has embraced the opportunity to design the district’s first summer bridge program. The NHS team is strategically using the early vision-setting process as an opportunity to engage stakeholders who know incoming students best: families and middle school educators. A desire to solicit parent and family perspectives led the team to develop a family survey about the transition from middle and high school. The survey is being offered in the three most commonly spoken languages in the community to maximize inclusivity. Parents and guardians were eager to share the successes and challenges their child had experienced, and to highlight some of the specific educator actions that made a significant positive impact on their student’s transition into high school.

Family input will inform the program’s curriculum and design, as will collaboration with middle school educators. NHS led a joint planning session between high school and middle school educators. School leaders and counselors discussed critical academic, social emotional, and executive functioning skills that promote success among rising freshmen as they embark on their high school journeys. The conversation also yielded valuable context around the structures, systems, and expectations that students experience at City Hill Middle School, allowing educators to look for similarities and differences in the daily life of a student at NHS to truly bridge any gaps during the transition.

These collaborative and information-gathering efforts highlight the careful reflection and data-informed strategic planning involved in launching a new summer bridge program. There may still be snow on the ground, but the Naugatuck team is gearing up for an energizing summer with the class of 2024!

Learn more about summer transition programs at other high schools across the RISE Network through this video link!