Month: February 2023

Digital Media and Design Spotlight


By Kenneth Thompson, DMD Assistant Professor In-Residence & UConn ECE DMD Faculty Coordinator
and Jennifer Sinski New Canaan High School DMD Instructor


Digital skills and design thinking are critical in a world filled to the brim with multimedia. Classes are now available in the Digital Media and Design program in the School of Fine Arts. We offer rigorous film, game development, illustration, animation, and graphic design studies. But most importantly, we emphasize communicating ideas to solve unique problems. Whether it’s a 20-foot tall interactive game wall in the Boston Children’s Hospital or historic VR tours of King Charles the IV’s crowning ceremony, our students make works of art by thinking collaboratively. Collaboration and critique are valuable skills in new media, corporate, and academic environments. Our program accommodates most professional and open-source software, and we work with teachers who need initial support converting courses. Students in our program intern and work at companies like Adobe, Disney, Epic Games, ESPN, and Pixar. For teachers looking to apply, please check the requirements of the portfolio on the UConn ECE DMD course page.

  • DMD 1002: Foundations in Digital Media II – is our storytelling through various mediums.
  • DMD 1101: Design Lab I – this is where students begin to explore digital image manipulation.
  • DMD 1102: Design Lab II – takes those skills further to focus on time-based mediums.
  • DMD 2210: Film and Video Editing I – get students thinking through the lens of a camera and how to craft a story.
  • DMD 2500: Introduction to Game Design teaches students the art, business, code, and design of interactive media and the 180 billion-dollar video game industry.


This is the pilot year for New Canaan High School’s UConn ECE Course, Advanced Film and Video Editing. Our course is designed to take our students through an exploration of storytelling with a focus on video production and non-linear editing with Adobe Premiere Pro. Project Management, sound design and time-based storytelling techniques are embedded into various projects and film screenings. NCHS Art teacher, Jennifer Sinski, has established this course for the student who is serious about building their creative film portfolio and knowledge of video editing. Student, Megan Brunner, describes the positive highlights of the course: “The people in the class but also the different projects we have already done. For example, the first movie I made was able to make a film about one of the most important things in my life, I was able to use a more professional editing software and it made it look more professional and I made something I was truly proud of.”

Fall 2022 Professional Development Workshops


By Stefanie Malinoski


This fall, the Early College Experience program has been fortunate to be able to return to hosting some of our professional development workshops in person on the Storrs and Avery Point campuses. During the fall semester more than twenty events occurred with another almost twenty-five slated to occur during the winter intersession and spring semester.


UConn ECE Marine Science Instructors were not only able to meet in person but were able to set sail on the Long Island Sound as a part of their workshop day. The group discussed Winslow Homer’s “Fog Warning” and then experienced the fog first-hand from dories on the water.


After being introduced to molecular photoswitches by Dr. Michael Kienzler, from UConn’s Chemistry Department and the ECE Chemistry Instructors engaged in a hands-on laboratory demonstration “Synthesis and Photoswitching of Azobenzene”.


Sustainable Plant and Soil Science Instructors met with UConn’s Dr. Yi Ma from the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture for a pGLO Bacterial Transformation


Guest speaker, S. Garnett Russell, Associate Professor of International and Comparative Education at Teachers College, Columbia University joined the UConn ECE Human Rights workshop and shared a presentation and discussed her book, “Becoming Rwandan”, and lead a conversation focused on teaching about the aftermath of the Rwandan Genocide.


At the European History Workshop, ECE History Faculty Coordinator, Tom Maulucci spoke to the group about ideas for fitting Eastern Europe into HIST 1400 and discussed a recorded lecture “As Ukraine Goes, So Goes the World: Thoughts on propaganda, violence, and democracy” given by Timothy Snyder, Richard C. Levin Professor of History and Global Affairs at Yale University. Later in the day, Professor, Sarah Silverstein, from UConn’s History Department presented to the group on “Eastern Europe’s Invention of the West”. Later, two of UConn’s Student Success Librarian’s, Zach Claybaugh and Kelsey Brown, gave an overview of library resources available to Instructors (with a special focus on Ukraine).


Having the ability to be back on campus and in person has allowed ECE to provide interesting and engaging professional development opportunities to our certified Instructors. Many disciplines are also opting to continue offering virtual events which allows us to more easily invite speakers from across the country to meet with our Instructors.


At the virtual American Studies and U.S. History Workshop in October guests included Chris Vials, Professor, English, and Director of American Studies at UConn who gave his talk “Fascism and American Studies” and provided resources to help facilitate teaching the topics. In addition, Aya Marczyk, Curriculum Development Fellow from Yale University’s Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimony engaged with Instructors on the topic of Race and Citizenship and provided a curriculum overview. After the workshop an ECE Instructor commented “The speakers were informative, engaging, thought-provoking, and provided practical resources to assist in teaching. Both were the perfect blend of providing intellectually stimulating content within a relevant pedagogical context. I will take the materials that they provided and absolutely incorporate them into my class.”


UConn ECE Economics Instructors heard dynamic presentations from economists from across the country during their virtual workshop. Presentation topics included:
• “5 Key Economic Concepts that Popular Media Can Teach” delivered by Dr. Kim Holder, Director, UWG Center for Economic Education and Financial Literacy, Senior Lecturer of Economics, Richards College of Business, Director of Financial Literacy, University of West Georgia (UWG).
• “Building Human Capital – College and Career Exploration”, Princeton Williams, Senior Outreach Advisor of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
• “4 Tools to Make Your Teaching Stick” was delivered by Matt Hill, Curriculum Designer at the Marginal Revolution University.
• “The Vibrant History of Black-Owned Banks” given by Tim Todd, Executive Writer and Historian of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.


Much more information and pictures from the many professional development workshops hosted this fall can be located on “UConn ECE PD Blog” on the Early College Experience website. Dates for spring workshops will be posted to the ECE website’s “Dates to Remember” section as soon as details are finalized. We look forward to continuing to utilize the winter months with additional virtual workshop opportunities and welcome our community members to campus in the spring for additional professional development events.


Partners Coming Together to Provide Access


By Nella Quasnitschka


After canceling the program in 2020 and hosting a virtual program in 2021, UConn Pre-College Summer returned to campus this year. We weren’t sure what to expect after a two-year hiatus, but we were pleasantly surprised as enrollments began to quickly roll in as the summer neared. By the start of the first session, we had 377 students who were enrolled in 419 courses over a four-week period.


Since its inception, the program has strived to provide access to students who cannot afford to enroll in a course. As a result, we have been able to provide more access through partnerships with faculty who have applied for grants which include scholarship money, schools and non-profit organizations, and access initiative awards which provide full or partial funding. This past summer 30%, over 100 students, benefited. Below is a brief description of these partnerships, collaborations, and awards.


UConn’s Department of Earth Sciences secured scholarship money through a National Science Foundation grant to help fund eight students in the Earth and Environmental Science course. The faculty, Dr. William Ouimet and Dr. Michael Hren, took students to our UConn forests to conduct field and lab experiments and included guest visits from Geoscience faculty to discuss a wide range of topics in the discipline. In their assessment of the course a student stated that the professors “helped me build my own idea of what I want to major in.”

Dr. Jennifer Terni, Department Head of the Department of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages received a STARTALK grant, a federal grant program funded by the National Security Agency. This grant included funding for up to 40 high school and college age students to participate in the STARTALK: Chinese Culture and Language Immersion course taught by professor Chunsheng Yang or the STARTALK: Korean Culture and Language Immersion course taught by professor Eun-Ju Shin. Thirty-three students participated in the courses, at no cost. Students stated that “most activities were very engaging. They were conversation focused so it made lots of students improve their speaking and listening skills”.


UConn Cultural and Education Exchange with Indigenous Nations (UCINCEE) is a mentorship program with local Native youth. In 2020, Zoe Belivine, an undergraduate student and now alumni, applied for the President’s Commitment to Community Initiative which focused on making UConn a more inclusive space by fostering respect and understating among the UConn community. This grant would fund enrollments for five students from Indigenous Nations. Last summer, Zoe was able to send one student to the program with hopes of sending more in future summers.


Dr. David Gregorio, Director of Programs in Applied Public Health Science at UConn Health received funding from the CT Department of Public Health to initiate several programs, all intended to enhance the pipeline of individuals pursuing careers in public health. The funding included eight scholarships for students to enroll in the Public Health course taught by Professor Amy Hunter, Ph.D., M.P.H. The course introduced students to the art and science of public health practice with a focus on preserving health and preventing disease within our communities. Students enrolled in the course stated that the course “has generated an interest in pursuing Public Health as my major.”


Connecticut IB Academy sponsored 24 of their students who enrolled in a course of their choice including, Pre-Med: Musculoskeletal Injury and Pathology, Robotics Engineering, and Animation Studio.


Noble School’s Summer of a Lifetime program provides funding to over 1,000 Noble students every year who participate in various pre-college programs across the country. Last summer 29 students enrolled in UConn PCS courses. We have been working with Summer of a Lifetime since 2019 and have had close to 100 students join us since. We hope to continue our collaboration for years to come.


In 2021, Cody Olsen, HESA GA for PCS proposed to pilot an access initiative, the Life Transformative Education Access Initiative, which has provided financial assistance to 14 participants over the last two summers – five in 2021 and nine in 2022.


Without these partnerships, we would not have been able to provide access to so many students. Thank you to everyone that has taken a role in making this possible. If you are interested in partnering with Pre-College Summer, please reach out to us at


NACEP Conference


By Carissa Rutkauskas


UConn OECP Executive Director, Christopher Todd; Outreach and Evaluation Specialist, Carissa Rutkauskas; and Consultant, Pamela Peters attended the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP) 2022 conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota in early November. In addition to networking, a keynote from John O’Brien, President and CEO of EDUCAUSE, breakout sessions, and workshops, UConn ECE presented a session in the research strand, accepted their re-accreditation plaque, and paid tribute to Prince by visiting the First Avenue Night Club.


Peters and Rutkauskas presented “Developing a Long-term Integrated Plan for Data Collection and Analysis,” where Rutkauskas introduced UConn Early College Experience and Peters discussed how she improved the UConn ECE Alumni Survey and aligned it with other surveys and data collection points, with the ultimate goal of having a cohesive data set for continual program improvement. Todd and Rutkauskas attended the accreditation and re-accreditation luncheon where they accepted the UConn ECE NACEP re-accreditation plaque, indicating that the UConn ECE program meets NACEP standards and will hold this accreditation for the next seven years. UConn ECE is the only program in New England to hold NACEP accreditation
and has continuously held this achievement since their initial accreditation in 2007.


All three attendees came away from the conference with great information, insights, and connections. Peters, a doctoral student in the UConn Neag School of Education’s Research Methods, Measurement, and Evaluation program, with a background in gifted education, states her biggest takeaway was “how hard people are working to maximize the benefits and experience dual/concurrent enrollment students are having and how widespread these programs are”. Rutkauskas is excited to start using what she learned about National Student Clearinghouse data to gain a better sense of what UConn ECE Alumni do once they graduate high school. She is also grateful for sample student self-advising forms that colleagues shared from their programs and will use these as a model for UConn ECE. Todd is still in his first year in his role and, like Peters, was a first time NACEP conference attendee. For Todd, the NACEP conference highlighted the lack of Connecticut presence within the national concurrent/ dual enrollment dialogue, despite UConn Early College Experience being recognized as the oldest, and one of the largest single concurrent enrollment programs in the nation. Todd stated, “NACEP highlighted the need to have ongoing and frequent communications as part of a community of practice with the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE), partner school districts, instructors, students and fellow concurrent/ dual enrollment programs across the
state to build momentum for growth, support for access and to ultimately ensure high program quality”.


Cardboard Boat Race: Underdogs in History


By Jessica Dunn


On September 23, 2022, we hosted the UConn ECE Cardboard Boat Race at the Avery Point Campus with about 200 participants in attendance! Twelve teams representing seven partner high schools spent the morning in maritime-related academic sessions, had lunch outside, including UConn Dairy Bar ice cream, and then took to the water to test how their handcrafted cardboard and duct tape vessels would fare on the mouth of the Thames. One seacraft ventured out a bit further than intended into Long Island Sound but was able to make it back safely with a little help from the safety crew! Underdogs in History: A Belief in the Possibilities was a fitting theme, as one faculty/ staff heat and three student heats fought wind, low temperatures, and currents to make their way around two buoys and back to the finish line.


The numerous hours of collaboration and preparation by the UConn ECE students for the event was evident as all boats fared very well considering the conditions of the day. Teams were recognized with trophies for placing 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in each of the three heats, and the 1st place boat in the Championship Race, The Morgan School’s “USS Independence”, took home the cardboard trophy! In addition to the awards presented for placing in the races, Ledyard High School’s “Ugly Ductling” took home the Best Visual Award, Waterford High School’s “Titanic Undoordog (Jack would have fit!)” took home Best Boat Name Award, and The Morgan School’s second boat, “Miracle on the Water”, took home the People’s Choice Award.


A special thanks to the UConn ECE Instructors and students who participated, and to the entire UConn team including Avery Point Campus staff and subject area presenters who helped make the day a success.


Registration Reaches New Heights


By Todd Blodgett


After a successful registration process during the 2021-2022 academic year with, we took feedback from our partner schools and improved both student user experience and partner high school functionalities. With a simplified and more concise registration process we had over 15,000 high school students across the state of Connecticut enroll in at least one UConn ECE course. The most in program history, surpassing a previous high of 13,889!


This past Spring and Summer we had many meetings with our partner high schools to discuss the expansion of their course offerings and held conversations about how to get more students enrolled in UConn ECE courses. This led to a large growth in the amount of schools that were offering courses in Education Curriculum, Educational Leadership and Educational Psychology. This year we also revamped and reintroduced our partnership and offerings in Digital Media & Design. Five, three-credit courses were available to our high school partners in areas of Digital Media, Film & Video Editing and Game Design. As we continue to grow our offerings in these areas, we expect more partner schools to offer these courses to their students.


Registration for the 2022-2023 academic year closed in the Fall on October 6. We encourage students, instructors and school counselors to start having conversations about registering for UConn ECE courses now for the coming academic year. This will encourage students to plan their high school schedules and make sure they have taken the necessary prerequisites for the UConn ECE course they are interested in.

French Immersion Day and Quiz Bowl


By: Jessica Dunn


After a three-year hiatus of UConn ECE Student Events, we enthusiastically welcomed back the long-standing French Immersion Day and Quiz Bowl on November 3, 2022. About 100 UConn ECE Students representing Lewis S. Mills High School, RHAM High School, Coventry High School, Norwich Free Academy, Nathan Hale-Ray High School, Daniel Hand High School, and Wheeler High School convened at the UConn Storrs campus for a day of excitement and competition in French culture, grammar, history, literature and many other topics. With matching team shirts and deep preparation and passion, the teams came ready to participate in immersion sessions in the morning with UConn French Teaching Assistants, and a head to head, jeopardy-style Quiz Bowl competition in the afternoon.


Taking home first place in this year’s Quiz Bowl Competition was RHAM High School, followed by Nathan Hale-Ray High School in second, and Norwich Free Academy in third place. From the UConn Early College Experience Program Office, we want to thank Dr. Florence Marsal for her efforts coordinating the event and extend our congratulations and thanks to all high schools who participated in this year’s event. There have been many obstacles in the way of returning to in person events, but we are very happy to welcome students back to campus and support their growth in and outside of the classroom.



Youth in Action for Human Rights


By: Jake Skrzypiec UConn ECE Human Rights Teacher-Manchester High School, Dodd Human Rights Impact Fellow and Chris Buckley UConn ECE Human Rights Teacher-Brookfield High School, Dodd Human Rights Impact Fellow


A new project coming out of UConn’s Dodd Human Rights Impact, with Connecticut educators and youth in partnership with one another, seeks to inspire hope and possibility. Human Rights Close to Home (HRCH) is a three-year undertaking to advance Connecticut teachers’ and students’ skill and capacity in human rights education and civic action. The project brings educators, youth, university scholars and community leaders together to foster these goals through a variety of programing.


The HRCH Youth Advisory Team is a diverse group of youth leaders developing components of the Human Rights Close to Home initiative. From December 2021 to May 2022, the Youth Advisory Team collaborated on the development of the HRCH Youth Action Summit, a learning experience for Connecticut high school
students. Guided by ECE teachers Jake Skrzypiec (Manchester High School) and Chris Buckley (Brookfield High School), this team organized all components of the youth summit. The work of these youth leaders included the selection of speakers, school invitations, the logistics of registration, and the facilitation and moderation of the workshops and panels that defined the event. The May 18th summit was host to 250 students from 10 high schools. The attendees engaged in a wide range of sessions informing and empowering young people around human rights and civic action. The youth team is currently working to develop the upcoming HRCH Youth Summit to be held in January 2023.


Members of the Youth Advisory Team also submitted a presentation proposal for the National Council for the Social Studies conference, taking place in December 2022 in Philadelphia. The proposal was accepted, creating a rare and unique opportunity for young people to share their work with the HRCH initiative in a professional setting. These young people embody the ideal of a human right defender at the heart of Human Rights Education. Their work is at the forefront of human rights education and civic action in Connecticut. Their presentation at NCSS will emphasize the work of HRCH on the national stage to engage and empower educators to enshrine human rights and civic education into their practice.


New Partnerships


By Christopher Todd


In the arena of PK-12 education, ensuring equitable access to high quality college coursework, phenomenal instructors and meaningful outcomes for students cannot happen in a vacuum. While each one of us plays a significant role in supporting the success of all Connecticut students, it is our collective agency that creates systems and programs designed to elevate and champion the goal of providing access to, and preparation for, higher education. As such, UConn’s Office of Early College Programs is excited to share that we have entered partnership agreements with the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS), the Connecticut Association of Schools (CAS) and were proud sponsors of the 2022 Connecticut Boards of Education (CABE)/CAPSS Convention; Public Education: Moving Forward for ALL Children.

News to Know



UConn ECE is now on TikTok! @uconnece


Also, check out our new welcome video here!




UConn First Summer, an exploratory summer program designed for incoming first-year and transfer students who will be starting at UConn in the fall, welcomed back 25 students on campus for Summer 2022. The five-week residential program allowed students to engage from six course offerings, participate in workshops to build connections with university departments, and ease the transition in a smaller setting.


UConn ECE Faculty Coordinators

Dr. Robert Thorson, UConn ECE Earth Sciences Faculty Coordinator, incorporates an original podcast, Climate Underground into the teaching of his Honors First Year Seminar, Climate Underground and is used in UConn ECE offering of ERTH 1051, Earth’s Dynamic Planet. He describes the course as “Staying afloat without going bonkers requires knowing how the Earth works, what its history has been, and how this knowledge can be put to good use.”



UConn ECE Instructors

Kristen Rotherham, ENGL 1007 UConn ECE Instructor at Bethel High School shares: My sci-fi flash fiction story, “Cruising for Love” was published on the Wanamaker Studio Flash Fiction podcast over the summer. (*note I use my maiden name when I publish creative writing but it’s really me!)

Expert teachers of ECE LLAS 1190: Introduction to Latin America and the Caribbean Elise Weisenbach (Branford High School) and Bonnie Nietupski (Rocky Hill High School) decided to share their work this fall with the CT Organization of Language Teachers or COLT. At the Conference “Deepening Connections Across Languages, Cultures and Communities” on Oct 20th, 2022, teachers were excited to receive a large slide deck with links to a myriad of lessons that Elise and Bonnie have developed to support the teaching of Latin American Studies. Their presentation “How Spanish Teachers can Learn and Develop Latin America-centered Curriculum” pointed teachers to online resources, summer institutes & grants for teachers, and their own lesson plans, hosted on google docs and on an ECE LLAS website,, which will soon transition to a permanent new site. Bonnie and Elise hope to get teachers around the state more interested in both the integration of Latin America into their classroom curriculum and in teaching LLAS 1190. Their work paid off at the conference, as 3 schools approached ECE coordinator Anne Gebelein at the event expressing interest in teaching the course at their high school. We are grateful to Bonnie and Elise for being so willing to share their ECE expertise and enthusiasm to inspire other educators.


In remembrance

Cathy Manning, Westhill High School Statistics Instructor for UConn ECE, passed away this past August. She was known as a “devoted educator and her career in academia was her passion. She was a wonderful friend to her fellow teachers, and her students loved her both as an instructor and mentor who always made herself available to anyone who needed her support and counsel.*” UConn ECE extends their gratitude to Cathy for her 12 years of teaching UConn courses at Westhill.


Conference Funding for UConn ECE Instructors

UConn ECE provides limited funding to UConn ECE Instructors to attend conferences to promote their UConn classes and concurrent enrollment as a dynamic model for education. While funding is not guaranteed, conference presenters and attendees can apply to the UConn ECE Program Office to help offset some of the costs.


Annmarie Thibodeau: On Friday, November 18, 2022, I had the opportunity to attend the ACTFL (The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) in Boston, MA with several of my World Language colleagues from The Woodstock Academy. It was a wonderful professional opportunity to learn more about current teaching and learning of all languages, specifically Spanish. I was able to attend three works  hops and speak with numerous exhibitors at the World Language Expo about available resources and travel and study opportunities. I especially enjoyed the conference, Practical Strategies to Boost Student Communication. The presenter provided us with some new strategies and techniques to promote spontaneous communication in the classroom and motivate students to be committed life-long language learners. I am looking forward to sharing his message with my colleagues and students.  Thank you for this opportunity.



Andrew Morehouse: While attending the 2022 ACTFL conference in Boston, I had some wonderful opportunities for professional development in seeing multiple sessions on utilizing SLA theory in practice (especially with a focus on assessment) and using tech tools that are in line with modern language pedagogy. Additionally, I made connections with several publishers to work on projects with them that will provide better Latin resources for the world. When not at talks or chatting with publishers, I was able to get resources such as novellas for my Spanish classes. All the while, I spent time with dear friends and colleagues and developed deeper bonds and relationships with these folks. I am incredibly appreciative of the funding from UConn that allowed this to happen and I look forward to going to ACTFL Chicago next year to spread more word of the ECE program.





Amy Bigelow: December 1 & 2, math educators converged in Baltimore for the annual National Council of Teachers of Mathematics conference. I was honored to present Metacognitive Strategies to Help College-Bound Students (with Autism) Thrive, with funding support from the ECE program. I shared the process I use in MATH 1131Q &1132Q and STAT 1100Q that builds off the technique of an exam wrapper to help students build the skills to go from the high school expectations of homework as practice to the college expectations of writing accurate problem set solutions with clear justification and proper notation. Beyond the reflective conversations I had with other teachers after my talk, I was inspired by sessions addressing promoting joy in the classroom, lifting up each and every person, and capitalizing on the formative assessment process. I am excited to return to my department with techniques for including more movement and wordplay and for posing questions with too little information to build curiosity.


One of the unexpected highlights to calm my nerves before presenting was being welcomed by the friendly and supportive Professor Tutita Casa of the Neag School who was serving on the program committee. The Huskies represented well in Charm City.