top accomplishments during the 2015-16 year included the academic success of
our high school graduates (as outlined in the Program Section, under College
Prep); the extremely positive report provided by the NEASC accreditation team
that visited Ansonia High in October 2015; and the significant improvement in
preliminary math results on the Smarter Balanced exams.
more than two years, a team of teachers, support staff, and community members
worked to prepare for the October 2015 visit by the New England Association of
Schools and Colleges (NEASC). The result of the three-day visit was in the form
of a report, which provides commendations and recommendations in order to
maintain high standards of excellence. Among the many commendations listed were
the staff that creates a safe environment and established school pride,
creative ways the faculty try to get parents/guardians into the building, rigor
in the classroom, the daily advisory period, abundance of technology in the
building and its use in the classroom, the number of AP and other college-level
courses available to students, and evidence that written curriculum is the
third accomplishment was announced by the state in mid-August: Ansonia was
among the group of districts that had an improvement gain of more than 5% on
the new Smarter Balanced exam, which was administered in the spring. Ansonia
students averaged scores that were 5.5% higher in math and 1.6% higher in
Reading/English Language Arts, compared to a year ago. The Smarter Balanced
exam, which is administered to all public school students in grades 3-8, replaced
the Connecticut Mastery Test in the 2014-15 year.
goals for the upcoming year are to build upon these successes that result in
improved student achievement.
Ansonia Public Schools is required
by the State Department of Education to establish a District Improvement Plan
every three years. The current plan, approved in 2015, established the following
three goals based on three priority areas:
By 2018, the average RIT (Rasch Unit) score of Grade 3 students will meet or
exceed the national average as measured by the NWEA (NorthWest Evaluation
Association) Math Assessment.
By 2018, 90% of all third grade students assessed by TRC/MCLASS will be
proficient or higher.
Readiness: By 2018, 80% of graduating seniors will attend a post-secondary
institution or the Armed Services.
In order to meet these goals, the
school district will seek support from its staff, students, families,
businesses, organizations, government representatives, and the general public.
The type of support will vary – from parents assisting their children in the
completion of homework to the school district seeking and securing funds from
the local government, state, federal government and partnering agencies – but
all support is vital to the success of Ansonia’s students.
Carol Merlone, Ed.D., the 16th Superintendent of Schools, is a passionate advocate for children and a strong leader who embraces school change. Under her leadership, Mrs. Merlone set four goals: 1. Develop and ensure effective district reform governance through efficient and positive Board of Education/Superintendent relations; 2. Increase student achievement for all students while simultaneously closing the achievement gap; 3. Improve public trust, commitment, and confidence through open, honest communication and responsive corrective action in order to increase student achievement and conditions of teaching and learning; and 4. Foster a supportive, positive and effective district climate and culture focused on improving student achievement.
Mrs. Merlone gives monthly written progress reports to the Board of Education, posting her newsletters on the school district website: www.ansonia.org. Here are several of the successes achieved during her eight years at the helm:
* The school district was restructured in 2009, due to standardized test scores that did not meet the State of Connecticut standards of student achievement for several years. While the changes were significant and costly, the results have brought improved student achievement and new and challenging educational programs, a success in light of minimal budget increases during the recession years.
* With the help of the State of Connecticut and its “Project Opening Doors,” Ansonia High School was able to expand the Advanced Placement courses at Ansonia High School over the past six years. The project, which concluded two years ago, was meant to encourage more students to attend college. AHS now offers 11 AP courses, eight UConn courses, three Housatonic Community College Prep courses, and two University of New Haven courses. Students who meet the criteria can earn from 3 to 8 college credits. Ansonia High's Top 10 graduates of the Class of 2016 each earned 20 or more college credits.
* Transparency and accountability describe the school district’s practices since 2007, including but not limited to district finances. Budgets are built from a $0 base, submitted to the Superintendent and Business Administrator, and cuts are made prior to being brought to the Ansonia Board of Education. Each year, building and department heads present their budget directly to the Board of Education. The Superintendent and Business Manager then present the budget to the city's tax board, followed by the Board of Aldermen. The aldermen determine the fate of all budgets, including that of the school district.
The Ansonia Pre-K Program provides
part day/part year, school year/school day and full day/full year education to more than 100 Ansonia children ages
3-4. Classes operate out of Ansonia Middle School and out of Mead School. Children in the Ansonia Pre-K program
at AMS are educated under the umbrella of the Ansonia School
Readiness Program, which provides a reduced-cost preschool education. Parent fees are charged according to a schedule
from the State of Connecticut. A School Readiness Council oversees the program. The class at Mead School, called "Smart Start," is operated by Ansonia Public Schools and is funded with a state grant and parent fees. The state is also covering the cost of a new pre-K playground that will be built during the 2016-17 year at Mead School.
Children who enter the Pre-K classes will benefit from a home visit by
their child’s teacher. They may also receive intervention services, if services
such as speech, occupational therapy, or similar special interventions are
needed. All children who complete one year in the School Readiness program have
participated in a high quality experience in a licensed and/or accredited
preschool program. They will have improved their social/emotional, cognitive,
creative, and physical skills which are based on Connecticut’s Early Learning
Development Standards (ELD’s) and assessment framework from the Connecticut Office
of Early Childhood. All children will have an individual portfolio, which will
address their individual strengths and weaknesses. With these measures in
place, children are better prepared for the transition to kindergarten.
The goal of the Ansonia Pre-K program is
for ALL of the children to complete kindergarten with strong
readiness skills. Family members are encouraged to become actively involved in their
child’s education. In order to gauge the success of our program, we are collecting data on our “graduates,”
including their reading scores at the end of
kindergarten, as well as whether they are still receiving special education services.
We intend to track our students through the end of third grade in
order to determine if the student has maintained or improved their reading
skills across the development scale.
We have also continued participating
in a health initiative with Griffin Hospital, called VITAHLS, which
promotes healthy eating and fitness, and we have begun tracking health data for
The Ansonia Pre-K program is accredited by the National Association for
the Education of Young Children. The standards required by this national agency
are very high. Using some of those guidelines, Ansonia’s School Readiness
Coordinator, Dr. Sheila Kearney, is required to visit the classrooms quarterly.
Dr. Kearney observes how teachers are documenting their progress with the children,
the physical environment, the structure of the day, teacher and child
interactions, and family involvement. She meets with the program directors to
get more information about their transition to kindergarten activities,
nutrition programming and parent involvement. These observation reports are
shared with the School Readiness Council and individual program sites.
With their children enrolled in a
pre-school program, families seeking employment have the time to search for
a job or go back to school. Families may be referred to Valley Regional Adult
Education if they want to obtain their GED or get their high school diploma, or
to TEAM, who can help them get medical coverage through the HUSKY program.
Numerous parent involvement and education activities are offered, such as the
annual literacy fair, which teaches them hands-on ways to read and write with
their children, and a Family Resource Fair, which provides activities for their
children and an opportunity to meet with more than 20 local agencies providing
services for them and their children. Ansonia School Readiness has built
strong, lasting partnerships with agencies that support its mission: “Providing leadership to high quality
programs for children, ongoing professional development
for teachers, linking resources to strengthen families and promoting open
communication among all stakeholders in the community.”
Since 2008, Ansonia Public Schools
has been expanding its College Preparatory programs at Ansonia High School and
for the past two years, with the help of a non-profit organization, offering a college
experience to Ansonia Middle School students. AHS now offers 11 Advanced
Placement (AP) classes, eight UConn courses, three
Housatonic Community College (HCC) courses, and two University of New Haven
courses. For the past two years, the high school has offered SAT Prep classes on Saturdays during the winter and spring. The
College Access for All Kids program, established by AMS teacher Jessica Bedosky
and her husband, provided four college trips for 215 AMS students during the
2015-16 year. Guest speakers visit the district’s elementary schools to share
information about their careers.
The short-term success of the College
Prep Program in the school district is in the rapid growth of college courses
that is being offered, as well as the increase in College Fairs, college trips,
and school success planning that is engaging students from elementary grades
through high school. Dr. Carol Merlone, Superintendent of Schools, spearheaded
the drive to establish new college-level courses at AHS. “This
is an extremely impressive accomplishment by our students. “While our budgets
have been extremely tight and we’ve had to make cuts in recent years, we have
been able to maintain and expand our college-credit courses thanks to the
dedication of our staff and the use of grant funds., she said. “Our students
have the opportunity to experience the rigor of college level work, starting in
their sophomore years of high school, and this will help prepare them for the
next phase of their educational careers.”
long-term success of college preparatory programs will be evident in future
statistics: How many students who enter college with college preparatory
experience remain in college and finish on time (or early) due to the head
start they received during their high school years. What we know is that every
student who earns college credit will have successfully faced the academic rigor
of college course work. In addition, many students will also save thousands of
dollars in college tuition. During the 2015-16 school year, nearly
100 juniors and seniors at AHS earned college credit from one or more of the
UConn, HCC or UNH courses. Based on the cost of tuition at each of these
universities, the college credit earnings total $205,227. In addition, more
than 30 AHS graduates completed multiple AP courses, which adds significantly
to this savings projection.
The college prep programs are monitored by the Guidance Department of Ansonia High School and Ansonia Middle School, as well as the school administrators, teachers and support staff of these schools as well as the elementary schools.
of the graduates of the Class of 2016, Will Phipps, graduated with 29 college
credits: 16 from UConn, and 13 from HCC. He began taking these demanding classes
during his sophomore year and will be attending Stonehill College in
Massachusetts, majoring in accounting. Depending upon the number of credits
that will be accepted, it will help put a dent into the cost of one year of
tuition: $58,000. His mother, Nina, said even if the course credits are not
accepted by Stonehill, her son can use the course hours toward the number
required in order to take the CPA exam after his senior year of college. “These
classes teach students how to handle the work that they will be getting in
College,” Mrs. Phipps said. “The teachers of these courses are incredible with
these kids. They are always available to help them every step of the way.”
High School Music Department serves 90 students in Grades 9-12. Of the 90
students, 62 students are members of the chorus, while 29 are members of the
behind – or rather, in front – of these 90 students is Maria Tangredi, who
joined the AHS staff in 1997 when the music program was restored. Since that
time, Ms. Tangredi has built a strong department, revived the AHS marching
band, and works tirelessly with her students after school to prepare for three
concerts each year at AHS: the Winter Concert in December, the Spring Concert
in April, and the Pops Concert in June, featuring the senior members of the
class. The AHS marching band perform during home football games, march in the
annual Ansonia Memorial Day Parade, and both the chorus and marching band
perform at the city’s annual Tree Lighting ceremony.
Thanks to the support of the Katharine
Matthies Foundation, the AHS Marching Band was revived in 2003 when uniforms
and instruments were purchased, and a second grant in 2012 replaced some
minimally worn inventory and added to the band inventory.
In 2006, the AHS marching
band was selected by the
Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 597, for a new endowment fund with the Valley
Community Foundation. The annual endowment funds, which average $1,300, are
used for uniforms, maintenance of equipment, or rental of instruments.
According to the 2006 Annual Report of the Valley Community Foundation, the VCF
membership support for the AHS band was unanimous. “Our members kept asking
each other, 'What has happened to music in the Valley towns? What can we do to
bring it back?' This was one way we could offer ongoing support to a worthwhile
The AHS music department has had a positive impact
on the lives of the thousands of parents, students, teachers, and community
members who have attended the AHS football games, watched the Ansonia Memorial
Day Parade, or attended one of the Music Concerts.
Several AHS music students who have graduated
continued their love of music in college, singing in a choral group or
performing with the marching band. Ms. Tangredi, who was president of the UConn
marching band from 1993 to 1994, is especially proud of the students who are
following in her footsteps.
The quote she selects for every AHS concert
program is from Plato: “The business of music should, in some measure, lead to
the love of the beautiful.”
Each year, music department students
participate in an Adjudication, which is held at the Thomas Edison Middle
School in Meriden. In addition, two AHS music students have been selected for
the All-State. Several years ago, a student performed with the All-State
Chorus, and this year, Jonathan Bustamante was
selected for the All-State Orchestra. Two AHS graduates – Karalyn Meineke and
Reaghan Bennett – are currently members of the UConn band.
Another example of the program’s success
is evident in the students who elect to take music classes and become part of
the after school music programs. These students represent the many different
cultures and interests of AHS students. Some of the students were born in
Ecuador, Italy, Jamaica, Liberia, Turkey and the Dominican Republic. Many of
the students are involved in other clubs and school sports teams. In addition,
many volunteer for the school or community.
Carol Merlone has been the Ansonia Superintendent of Schools since 2007. An Ansonia native, Dr. Merlone attended Ansonia’s schools, including Ansonia High School, where she graduated in 1976.
Dr. Merlone received several degrees from Southern Connecticut State University, including B.S. Degree in Early Childhood Education, M.S. Degree in Counseling, Sixth Year in Administration and Superintendent Certification; 30 additional credits in Educational Leadership from St. Joseph College; and a doctorate in Educational Leadership and Supervision from American International College in Springfield, Mass. She has several Connecticut educator licenses, including Elementary Teacher PK-8, Intermediate Administrator, and Superintendent of Schools.
Dr. Merlone began her education career in 1980 as a kindergarten teacher at Bradley School in Derby, and she joined Ansonia Public Schools in August 1984 as an elementary teacher at Peck School, where she taught in several capacities until her appointment as principal in 1998. She was reassigned as the Assisting Principal of Mead and Prendergast Elementary School, then became principal of Mead, before her appointment as Superintendent.
She is a member of several professional organizations, including the American Federation of School Administrators; the Connecticut Federation of School Administrators; Delta Kappa Gamma; Connecticut Association of Boards of Education, Connecticut Association of Public Schools Superintendents; and South Central Area Superintendents Association. In the community, she is a member of the Valley United Way Board of Directors, the Ansonia Rotary Club, and the Ansonia Lions Club, and she is a corporator with the Valley Community Foundation and the Boys & Girls Club of the Lower Naugatuck Valley.
Michael Wilson is Ansonia’s Assistant Superintendent of Schools. A Shelton resident who has held two administrative positions with the school district since 2010, Mr. Wilson was appointed as Assistant Superintendent in July 2013.
Superintendent of Schools Carol Merlone, Ed.D., recommended Mr. Wilson to the Ansonia Board of Education, stating that he is “an outstanding instructional leader who is very open to collaboration as well as taking on any new challenge facing the district.” Further, she noted that he has “the talent to perform on an exceptionally high level.”
Mr. Wilson completed his undergraduate work at Fordham University, where he received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics economics. For his postgraduate work, he attended Iona College in New Rochelle, where he received a master’s degree in mathematics education. Mr. Wilson earned his administrative certification from Southern Connecticut State University, where he is presently pursuing his certification as a superintendent of schools.
He began his career in education in Hicksville, New York in 1997, where he worked as a math teacher for two years. Mr. Wilson was hired in 1999 by Greenwich Public Schools, where he worked as a math teacher, Learning Facilitator and Administrative Intern. In 2010, he joined Ansonia Public Schools as its new math-science district coordinator, a position he held until he became assistant principal of Ansonia High School for the 2012-13 school year.
Mr. Wilson is a published author, having written three articles for education.com. The first was, “Homework: Why Do It?”; the second was entitled “Ever Wonder Where We are Educationally?” and the third was, “Differentiation: It’s Nothing New For This Guy.”
Ansonia Public Schools has a long history of collaboration with many community organizations serving the city and the Naugatuck Valley region. Through its School Readiness program, the district collaborates with Julia Day Nursery, TEAM Childcare Services, and the YMCA. Thousands of Ansonia school children have benefitted from the environmental science-based lessons provided by the Ansonia Nature Center. For more than 30 years, adults needing high school completion and English As a Second Language have taken classes through Valley Regional Adult Education. More than 90 students in the Ansonia Charger Club after school program have enjoyed the facilities and programs offered by the Boys & Girls Club and the Ansonia Nature & Recreation Center.
Students in our schools also volunteer for Spooner House, for TEAM’s annual Toys for Kids Drive, for their Men Who Cook Fundraiser, for Sen. Joseph Crisco’s Senior Fair, and for many other community programs.
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
Educate a child and you change a community. For the child, a good education means better career opportunities and higher lifetime earnings. College graduates enjoy better health and are more inclined to volunteer and vote. For the community, supporting our youths’ educational goals results in a stronger society.
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