The Learning Corridor

The Learning Corridor opens for learning
   New schools, new hope for Trinity's neighbors
On the outside, the buildings of the Learning Corridor are impressively shiny and new, like a monument to the vision of those who can imagine a bright future for Hartford's children. On the inside, the facilities are teeming with the energy of those children. A little more than three years after ground was broken, the Learning Corridor opened for the business of learning. In September, the first groups of students began attending classes in the educational complex adjacent to Trinity's campus, a complex that includes:

v the Montessori Magnet School, for children ages 3 to 12;

v the Hartford Magnet Middle School, featuring interdisciplinary teams of teachers and a curricular emphasis on the arts and sciences;

v the Greater Hartford Academy of Math and Sciences, serving students from grades 9 through 12 with advanced courses and independent learning experiences in mathematics, science, and technology; and

v the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts, attended by students from more than 40 school districts for afternoon courses and programs in music, drama, dance, and creative writing.

newaerial.jpg (61275 bytes)A. Montessori Magnet School

B. Hartford Magnet Middle School

C. Commons Building

D. Greater Hartford Academy of Math and Science

E. Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts

F. Boys & Girls Club at Trinity College


Plans for the Learning Corridor were first unveiled by President Dobelle in January 1996, following a landmark decision by Trinity's Board of Trustees to commit $5.9 million from the College's endowment to launch a bold $175-million neighborhood revitalization plan. Dobelle, quoted in a recent issue of The New York Times, says, "We wanted the whole community to buy into the idea that their kids could be anything they want." Trinity's partners in the Southside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance (SINA)--Hartford Hospital, Connecticut Children's Medical Center, the Institute of Living, and Connecticut Public Television and Radio--matched Trinity's initial contribution with an additional $5 million. Supported by both the State of Connecticut and the City of Hartford, the $110.8-million Learning Corridor project was launched officially with a groundbreaking ceremony in July 1997.

During a visit to the Learning Corridor this October, U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman called the Corridor "an imaginative experiment in learning, a real innovation, and a real opportunity for families throughout the Hartford area."

dodd2.jpg (266008 bytes)Dedication ceremonies were held at a community open house on October 13. Among those present were (from right of Dobelle) U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd, Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development Cardell Cooper from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Hartford Superintendent of Schools Anthony Amato, and Capitol Region Education Council Executive Director Marcia Yulo.  Also attending were U.S. Representative John Larson and Commissioner Ted Sergi of the Connecticut Department of Education.

President Dobelle, who took the role of master of ceremonies at the dedication, called the opening of the Learning Corridor this fall "a historic event for the Hartford community and its children. The Learning Corridor is proof that citizens and community groups, working together with a local college, business leaders, other nonprofit organizations, foundations, and local, state, and federal governments, can create positive and lasting change."

rowland.jpg (342799 bytes)Earlier that day in a separate ceremony, Dobelle presented Governor John G. Rowland (between Dobelle and Kevin Sullivan'71, vice president for community and institutional relations, and Thomas Johnson '62, chair of Trinity's Board of Trustees), who was not able to attend the community open house, with a President's Medal for Excellence, the highest honor awarded to individuals who are not alumni of the College. In honoring Rowland, Dobelle acknowledged the governor's "quiet, consistent, unequivocal, and exemplary" leadership on the project. For his part, Gov. Rowland has called the Learning Corridor "one of the most successful urban redevelopment projects in Connecticut." He said, "I'm especially proud of the way Trinity, the city, and the state were able to work together, using education as a catalyst. I'd love to use the Learning Corridor as a model for what can be accomplished in each of our major cities."

This year about 800 students, from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade, are attending classes and participating in programming in the Learning Corridor. Three years from now, when the Learning Corridor is operating at full capacity, it is expected to serve more than 1,400 children from Hartford and 44 of its neighboring communities.

A substantial, and very positive, article in The New York Times on October 29, 2000, reported on the early successes of the Learning Corridor. In it, reporter Stacey Stowe noted that the Corridor "has become a symbol of renewal and of what one college can do for its community." She went on to say that "when asked about the neighborhood, the first thing residents point out is the Learning Corridor as the most potent symbol of change."

 lc.jpg (1583018 bytes)

The article concluded with President Dobelle's challenge to other schools to become involved in their communities. "We're trying to do the right thing. We're sending a signal to other colleges that asks, do you or don't you do the right thing." The Times also covered another aspect of the Trinity/SINA neighborhood initiative in a November 1, 2000 story on the "smart neighborhood" project, which enables neighborhood residents and organizations to gain access to computers and the Internet through a program operated by the College and funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

"Focused on a Hartford neighborhood where 31 percent of the residents live below the poverty level and 28 percent of the households receive some form of public assistance, the planning process for [the Learning Corridor] had to look beyond the bricks and mortar of new development and address key destabilizing factors of the neighborhood," notes Eddie A. Perez, SINA's president and executive director and a Trinity IDP alumnus. "One of the biggest challenges for the neighborhood is its education infrastructure, which the Learning Corridor addresses."

"Being part of the Learning Corridor is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and a change we're making that's going to affect a whole generation," said Hyacinth Yennie, then-president of Hartford Areas Rally Together (HART), a community-based organization that has played a key role in the neighborhood initiative from the outset. "The Corridor has put new light and a new vitality into our neighborhood. There's still a lot of work that needs to be done, but this is a wonderful new beginning."


          Read Evan S. Dobelle, "This Is Hartford's Triumph," an op-ed in The Hartford Courant,
        September 3, 2000.

          Read The Hartford Courant's editorial, "Hartford's Education Jewel," September 7, 2000.

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