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Author Archives: Robert Cotto Jr.

NSF-TEU Program at Trinity College Provides Support for Teaching and Learning at the HMTCA Summer Science Academy


The teaching interns in the HMTCA summer science academy are all undergraduate students majoring in science and they are interested in a career in teaching. Funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation – Teaching Experiences for Undergraduates (NSF-TEU) program, these teaching interns come from colleges and universities across the country such as Trinity College, Vassar College, and Brown University, among many others. For example, one of the twelve NSF-TEU interns is current Trinity College student Jessica Duong, ’19 (fourth from left).

Because starting a teaching career is such a difficult task, the teaching interns have had mentors to observe and comment on their teaching and student learning. On July 2, mentor teachers from HMTCA met with the NSF-TEU interns to talk about highlights and challenges in teaching high school science. Trinity College alumna, Zuleyka Shaw ’06 (second from left), also joined the conversation as a former mentor and current HMTCA science teacher.

The HMTCA summer science academy and NSF-TEU programs are led by Trinity College Science Center Director Alison Draper and Dr. Kurt Love. Learn more about the program in a full-length story from the Trinity Reporter (Winter 2017), “Teaching to Teach”.

(Pictured above from left to right: Angela Kumm, HMTCA teacher and NSF-TEU mentor; Zuleyka Shaw, T ’06, HMTCA teacher and former mentor; NSF-TEU Interns: Madeline Crump, Jessica Duong T ’19, Thomas Schindelman, Oliver Yang, Alexa Castellana, Angela Zhang, Linda Zhang, Maria Salameh)

2018 HMTCA Summer Academies Begin at Trinity College


On June 19, the Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy (HMTCA) summer writing and science academies kicked off. Over the last few weeks, HMTCA ninth and tenth grade students have participated in these academies as part of the unique Early College Program partnership with Trinity College.

On the first day of session one, HMTCA students in the 9th grade writing academy chatted with current Trinity students on the first day (pictured above). Tennyson O’Donnell, the Director of the Allan K. Smith Center for Writing and Rhetoric and HMTCA writing academy faculty, arranged the discussion in his classroom.

Over the next few weeks, HMTCA students in writing academy will practice and read different types of writing. Supported by a National Science Foundation – Teaching Experiences for Undergraduates grant, HMTCA students in the science academy will learn about environmental sustainability, including field work to test local water quality. Faculty and staff from both HMTCA and Trinity College design and teach in the summer academies.

Session one took place from June19-29 and session two will take place from July 2-13. Learn more about the partnership between HMTCA and Trinity College here.

HMTCA Students Visit Trinity College Admissions Office


As part of the summer writing academy, ninth grade students visited with Trinity College associate director of admissions, Kyle Smith ’05 on July 3. In the Reese Room at the Smith House, Mr. Smith explained the different components of a college application, particularly for Trinity College admissions that seeks deeper student narratives by being test optional. In the question and answer period, HMTCA students asked about GPA’s of applicants to Trinity College, the cost of books, and the fraternity system.

Learn more about the partnership between HMTCA and Trinity College here.

Imani Scholarship for High School Students: Due March 25, 2018

Imani, the Trinity College Black Student Union, seeks applications from area high school students for a college scholarship. The application is here and below. Deadline for application is 11pm on March 25, 2018

Download (DOCX, 14KB)

Please email all responses to

For any questions about the application please email


Imani was organized for the advancement of Black awareness. The organization has been concerned with educating itself and the College as a whole by raising issues in black arts, history, politics and culture, both past and present. Imani seeks to work collectively with student, faculty and community resources to bring about synergy in our efforts to ensure that Trinity College is able to foster a welcoming environment to its students of color, provide representation for these students, and to promote coalescence amongst the greater Trinity College community, as well as the Hartford community. The organization is housed in the Umoja House at 72 Vernon Street.

Heartbeat Ensemble’s Youth Play Institute (YPI) Spring 2018

HartBeat Ensemble‘s YPI, our paid theater internship for 16-21-year-olds.This program is in its 11th year, and has served more than 500 young people from Greater Hartford.

In this program, a group of youth co-creates an original play about a social justice issue over an 8-week period.Internships are available for stage managers, actors, and designers.

This is a great program for young performers, activists, visual artists, collaborators and writers. Many different personality types and levels of experience excel at YPI.

Interviews will take place February 7th and 10th.


La Voz Latina Art Contest 2017: Open to Hartford-area students

La Voz Latina, a Trinity College student-led organization, calls for art projects from Hartford-area students, specifically art forms, physical or digital, representing Hispanic/Latinx cultures. To enter, e-mail The deadline is November 1, 2017. All art will be displayed.

La Voz Latina is a club open to all students interested in Hispanic cultures. The purpose of La Voz Latina is to increase the awareness of Latin American culture, politics and social issues in the Trinity community. It has a commitment with the Latino community of Hartford in bringing what they can offer to Trinity and its Latino students. Along with other organizations, La Voz Latina provides social and cultural programming needed in the Trinity Community.

Team Effort Helps Save Injured Hawk At Trinity College


On Monday, July 17, Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy (HMTCA) science teacher Jared Lewis noticed an injured red-tailed hawk near McCook Hall at Trinity College. Lewis was on Trinity’s campus for the HMTCA summer science program. He called Campus Safety and Robert Cotto, Jr., the Director of Urban Educational Initiatives, at Trinity College. And that led to a team of people working together to help the injured raptor.

The young hawk was hopping around on the ground near McCook and trying to avoid people. Upon further inspection, it appeared the hawk had an injured left wing.

Unsure of who to contact, Cotto and security officers Jeff LeBreque of Trinity College and Edwin Santiago of Hartford Public Schools made several calls to local bird rescue centers. The State of Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection website offered these contacts as suggestions of people trained to handle distressed birds.

Finally, Grace Krick from “A Place Called Hope” raptor center answered Cotto’s call. Being in Deep River, CT, which is almost an hour away from Trinity College, she asked for pictures of the injured hawk. Within minutes, Grace had a volunteer, Nick D’Onofrio, in the Hartford area at Trinity College to collect the bird. Nick safely collected the young male hawk and without too much distress.


If the hawk can be quickly rehabilitated, then it will be released back near Trinity College. But it is likely that the hawk will be released to another location so it does not directly compete with its adult kin for food and space. Red-tailed hawks are territorial by nature.

A decade ago, there were very few urban red-tailed hawks. Now they are all around Hartford, including around Trinity College. Being in such close proximity to people, the red-tailed hawks can face a variety of dangers. But that also means they can sometimes get a helping hand, or wing.


For more information:

Dealing with Distressed Birds: CT DEEP Website

A Place Called Hope: A 501(c)(3) non-profit organization run entirely by volunteers along with donations of time, supplies and money from our supporters. One of the goals at A Place Called Hope, Inc. is to teach the public how to protect and respect wildlife, in particular Raptors. You can learn more about the organization here:

Written All Over My Face: A Talk With Dr. Daren Graves

Daren Graves 350x300

Join us for a light dinner and a talk with Dr. Daren Graves who will share his story entitled, “Written All Over My Face: A Black Man’s Toll of Teaching White Students About Racism”. The story is featured as a chapter in the recent volume, Confronting Racism in Teacher Education: Counternarratives of Critical Practice.

When: Wednesday, June 7 @ 6 p.m.

Where (New location!): Hallden Hall, Dangremond Family Commons, Trinity College, Hartford, CT

(Building # 18 & 19 on campus map)

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Who: Open to the public.

Let us know you are coming! (RSVP on the form below)


About Daren Graves (from Harvard Graduate School of Education):

Daren Graves is currently the director of the Urban Master’s Program at Simmons College. As a teacher educator, he is committed to preparing teachers who see urban youth as assets in the teaching and learning process. His research interest involves the interplay of school culture and racial identity on the academic performance of Black adolescents. Graves’ research has given him an understanding of the issues that Boston-area youth face inside and outside of their school environments. Graves previously served as Assistant Director at Simmons College Upward Bound in Boston, where he helped coordinate the academic and college preparation components of this federally funded after-school and summer program.

About the book (from Routledge):

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Confronting Racism in Teacher Education aims to transform systematic and persistent racism through in-depth analyses of racial justice struggles and strategies in teacher education. By bringing together counternarratives of critical teacher educators, the editors of this volume present key insights from both individual and collective experiences of advancing racial justice. Written for teacher educators, higher education administrators, policy makers, and others concerned with issues of race, the book is comprised of four parts that each represent a distinct perspective on the struggle for racial justice: contributors reflect on their experiences working as educators of Color to transform the culture of predominately White institutions, navigating the challenges of whiteness within teacher education, building transformational bridges within classrooms, and training current and inservice teachers through concrete models of racial justice. By bringing together these often individualized experiences, Confronting Racism in Teacher Education reveals larger patterns that emerge of institutional racism in teacher education, and the strategies that can inspire resistance.




Hartford-Area Summer Youth Programs 2017

Every year, parents and educators ask us about summer programs for youth in Hartford and the region. So here’s a running list of programs and information booklets. Did we miss any?


Hartford Consortium for Higher Education, Hartford Public Schools, and Career Beginnings, List of Enrichment Programs

Download (PDF, 530KB)


Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, Summer Programs Directory 2017 (coming soon!)

Summer Programs Directory 2016


Hartbeat Ensemble, Youth Play Institute

Download (PDF, 1.81MB)

HMTCA Student, Abigail Dresser, Performs with the Trinity College Instrumental Ensemble

On April 27, Abigail (Abi) Dresser, a senior-class student at the Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy (HMTCA), and Briana Daley ’18, performed with the Trinity College Instrumental Ensemble. Abigail is the first HMTCA high school student to be part of the Trinity College Instrumental Ensemble.

DSC_0892Abigail Dresser, HMTCA ’17, Briana Daley, Trinity ‘18

The Performances

The Instrumental Ensemble recital on April 27, 2017 included a performance by Abi on violin and Trinity College student Briana Daley ’18 on the flute, as well as Coordinator Nancy Curran on the harpsichord. They played two pieces by Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1764) entitled La Cupis and La Marais.

Last December 2016, Abi, Briana, and Nancy also performed together. This marked the second semester that Abi and Briana performed together for the Ensemble. Reflecting on her work in the Instrumental Ensemble, Abi stated it has been, “a great learning experience and something I have enjoyed going to every week.” (Watch part of the December recital here or below.)

The Partnership

As one aspect of the partnership between Trinity College and HMTCA, an interdistrict magnet school, Abi applied for and enrolled in Music 101. Her professor for the introductory course, John Platoff, noticed her musical skill and recommended that she tryout for the Instrumental Ensemble (Music 105), which was under the direction of Nancy Curran.

At first, Nancy was reluctant to accept a high school student. But having played violin for fourteen years, Abi demonstrated that she had the skill, maturity, and persistence required to participate in the Instrumental Ensemble. After seeing her audition, Nancy was very “enthusiastic” to have her join the Ensemble.

From September to April: The Instrumental Ensemble

Since September, the Instrumental Ensemble has met once a week to rehearse. Every week, Abi walks across the street to Trinity College for reheasal from HMTCA, which is located at the Learning Corridor. For Abi, the best part of the class was performing in recitals last December and this April. The most challenging was, “making sure my sound fit the two other instruments playing with me.”

Ensemble Coordinator Nancy Curran called Abi an “accomplished violinist”. In addition, she noted that Abi worked well with her Trinity partner and she, “was willing to take on the challenge of studying and performing French Baroque music, which is very difficult stylistically to play.”

DSC_0229 copy 2Nancy Curran, Ensemble Coordinator, Abigail Dresser & Briana Daley

 A Bright Future For Abi

After graduating from HMTCA this spring, Abi hopes to continue playing violin and studying music, perhaps as a minor. Having successfully completed Music 101 and Music 105 at Trinity College, she will have two possible course credits towards that goal. After college, she hopes to go into, “business, more specifically finance or possibly a real estate lawyer.”

Her musical partner, Briana Daley ‘18 wished her well in the future. Briana stated, “It has been an honor to rehearse and perform with Abi these past two semesters. She is an extremely talented musician, whose positive attitude and love for music shows every day. I know that a bright future is in store for her, and I wish her the best of luck on her future endeavors! She will be greatly missed.”


This video clip was from the December 2016 performance of the Trinity College Instrumental Ensemble recital. The players include (from left to right) Nancy Curran, coordinator, Abigail Dresser, HMTCA ’17, and Briana Daley, Trinity ’18.