ECE

2023 News to Know

NACEP Leadership Academy

Christopher Todd was accepted into the 2023 cohort of the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP) Leadership Academy. Over the course of the next year, Chris will join two dozen emerging leaders from across the nation as they participate monthly topical seminars, peer-to-peer discussion groups and in-person meetings focused on the research and policies which drive concurrent and dual enrollment programs.  As part of the academy, Chris will attend a Washington Policy Summit in April and will be conducting a capstone research project.

 

NACEP National Conference

UConn OECP Executive Director Christopher Todd and UConn ECE Program Specialist for Outreach and Evaluation Carissa Rutkauskas attended the 2023 National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP) National Conference October 22-25 in St. Louis, Missouri. Rutkauskas attended the Outdoor Conversations preconference event and Todd attended the first in-person session of the Leadership Academy, followed by the Welcome Reception at Busch Stadium, the legendary home of the St. Louis Cardinals. They were accompanied by Connecticut colleagues Ansley Diamond, Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs, Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) System and Program Manager for Library Consortium Operations, Patrick Carr, first time NACEP attendees who were making connections with concurrent and dual enrollment for the State.

Welcome & Opening Plenary Shayla Rivera Aerospace Engineer and former Rocket Scientist with NASA turned corporate trainer, Int’l Speaker, TEDx Speaker, TV & Radio Host, Emcee/Host, Comedian, Actor, Writer motivated the audience on day one with the importance of people’s stories and the impact that verbal and non-verbal exchange has on others. Todd and Rutkauskas spent the next two days making connections with professionals from the CSCU System, New England Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NEACEP colleagues), and experts from the field across the country. In addition to wearing his Pedro Martinez Red Sox (#45) Jersey into Busch Stadium, Todd’s highlights of the NACEP conference were meeting his Leadership Academy Cohort colleagues for the first time and deep diving into several key issues during the state policy summit.  Rutkauskas appreciated the data sharing ideas present by Willamette Promise’s Pat Ketcham and Addie Howell and well as learning about IPEDs reporting from Amy Hubbard, Executive Director of Early College, University of Maine System, in the Research Forum.

 

College Credit Self-Tracker

The new College Credit Self-Tracker, developed by UConn ECE, is a google doc-based spreadsheet that students can copy and keep track of the UConn courses they take in high school, along with other college-credit bearing courses­­. s.uconn.edu/self-tracker

 

Concurrent Enrollment Review

Volume 1 of the Concurrent Enrollment Review CER was released in Fall of 2023, with a strong connection to UConn ECE. Brian A. Boecherer, former UConn Office of Early College Programs (OECP) Executive Director and current Chief Executive Officer/Consultant, Olive Shade Higher Education Consulting is the publication’s Editor-in-Chief and Christopher Todd, OECP’s current Executive Director, joins colleagues from Syracuse University, Boise State University, and University of Pittsburgh to serve as an Associate Editor. Carissa Rutkauskas’s, UConn ECE’s Outreach and Evaluation Specialist, with former UConn ECE graduate student, high school teacher, and Labor Organizer with the Connecticut Education Association, Kathrine Grant’s paper Formative Threads in the Tapestry of College Credit in High School: An Early History of the Development of Concurrent Enrollment and a Case Study of the Country’s Oldest Program was included. Their research explores contributing factors to DE/CE development and provides a historical review of the longest running CE program in the United States, the University of Connecticut’s Early College Experience Program, founded in 1955. surface.syr.edu/cer/vol1/iss1/3/

Concurrent Enrollment Review (CER) is the first independent, open access, peer reviewed journal dedicated to research in the field of dual/concurrent enrollment. CER, hosted by Syracuse University Libraries on Berkeley Electronic Press’s Digital Commons platform serves a variety of functions for the broad array of constituents and institutions that comprise the field of dual/concurrent enrollment. CER aims to build community through active readership, scholarship development, publication and peer review (https://surface.syr.edu/cer/about.html).

 

New Courses Offered

ASLN 1102: Elementary American Sign Language II (Dr. Linda Pelletier). Continued development of basic knowledge and understanding of conversational ASL.

CHIN 3210: Chinese Composition & Conversation I  (Dr. Chunsheng Yang). Development of high intermediate to advanced speaking and writing competency. Taught in Chinese.

CHIN 3211: Chinese Composition & Conversation II (Dr. Chunsheng Yang). Development of high intermediate to advanced speaking and writing competency. Taught in Chinese.

KINS 1100: Exercise and Wellness for Everyone (Ms. Allison MacKenzie). Overview of the five pillars of health (exercise, nutrition, sleep, stress and relationships); role of exercise in health promotion and disease prevention across the lifespan; impacts of exercise in leisure time, culture, community, careers and the workplace.

MATH 1070Q: Mathematics for Business and Economics (Dr. Anthony Rizzie & Dr. Andrew Jaramillo). Linear equations and inequalities, matrices, systems of linear equations, and linear programming; sets, counting, probability and statistics; mathematics of finance; applications to business and economics.

ece.uconn.edu/courses/

Alumni updates – class of 2019

 

Cassandra DiPierro

High School: Fairfield Warde High School 

College: Dickinson College, BA in Psychology, 2023

Favorite UConn ECE Memory: My favorite UConn ECE memories were the role play debates that I participated in for my US History and Modern European History courses.   

Best UConn ECE Benefit: The most useful benefit of ECE was the college credit I gained, which allowed me to take additional electives in college and further explore my academic interest in public health.  

What are you currently doing? I am currently pursuing a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology at the University of Toronto in Canada through the support of a Fulbright Graduate Studies Award. With the knowledge I gain from this experience, I hope to work to improve the access and quality of LGBTQ+ healthcare in the United States.  

Amara McNeil

High School: Classical Magnet School – Hartford, CT

College: Fordham University/Lincoln Center – B.A. in Theater Design and Production, 2023

Favorite UConn ECE memory: My favorite memories are the heated debates that we would all get into in Philosophy class. Even our teacher would get passionate! Everyone cared, and those early conversations sparked a love of philosophy that I carry into my artistry.

Best UConn ECE benefit/ takeaway: Having an insight into materials, I would be able to study more in-depth in college. There were many moments were I remembered a text or topic that was touched on in my ECE class. 

What are you currently doing? Now, I am a freelance lighting designer. After wrapping up my post-grad fellowship as the Howell Binkley Fellow, working on shows such as The Wiz and Come From Away tours. I am now prepping my own design here in NYC, as well as getting ready to assist Off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons!

Karissa Touma

High School: Wolcott High School

College: Western New England University, B.S. Actuarial Science degree, 2022

Favorite UConn ECE memory: In one of the UConn ECE courses I took we had a huge party to celebrate everyone passing the final exam! It was so great to celebrate everyone’s hard work in the course and the amazing accomplishment.

Best UConn ECE benefit/ takeaway: The best UConn ECE benefit was having enough credits to graduate college an entire year earlier than expected. This saved me money in tuition and allowed me to begin my career sooner.

What are you currently doing: I recently got married in October 2023 and work full time for the Cigna Group as a Senior Actuarial Analyst. I am in a reserving role for our Vision and Individual and Family Plans (IFP) blocks of business. I have passed 6 Actuarial exams, all ASA pathway modules, and 3 VEEs.

Morgan Nace

High School: Daniel Hand High School

College: UConn, College of Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, 2023

Favorite UConn ECE memory: My favorite UConn ECE memory was getting to do hands on labs in physics.

Best UConn ECE benefit/ takeaway: The best benefit of my ECE course in physics was learning how to study for freshman year courses at college. Experiencing UConn level exams helped me feel confident for my future after high school.

What are you currently doing? I am currently a Product Engineer at Ensign-Bickford Aerospace & Defense (EBAD) in Simsbury, CT. EBAD makes mission critical hardware for the aerospace and defense industry. At EBAD, I get to be on a team that makes separation stages and flight termination systems for launch vehicles and missiles.

Keegan Eveland

High School: Middletown High School

College: University of New Hampshire, B.S. Zoology with a minor in Animal Behavior

Favorite UConn ECE memory: I really enjoyed learning how to customize and design enrichment suitable for the species that you’re working with. There is something about seeing an animal’s mind at work and how they approach and solve puzzles that is so telling about their perception of the world and gives a glimpse into the inner workings of their cognitive processes.

Best UConn ECE benefit/ takeaway: Getting to learn about advanced subject matter that I otherwise wouldn’t have been exposed to during high school was highly beneficial. Enrolling in dual-enrollment courses guided me to the line of work that I am passionate about and currently work in today.

What are you currently doing? During my undergrad years, I focused on studying population acoustics of Brazilian Free-Tailed bat swarms in New Mexico, as well as the acoustics of various bat species in Brazil. I got to dip my feet into some field work gathering acoustic data for Little Brown bats in a large hibernacula in Vermont. This year I am a post-baccalaureate research fellow at Johns Hopkins investigating the navigation behaviors of Egyptian Fruit bats. When I am not doing that I also assist in neurological surgeries and experiments for Big Brown bats that are looking at how they process sounds in the auditory pathway of the brain.

Jonas Goemans

High School: Edwin O. Smith High School

College: Hasselt University, Bachelor in Biology, 2023

Favorite UConn ECE memory: I truly loved taking these advanced classes with like-minded classmates, it made our interactions and lessons really interesting. I would say my favorite memory would be the dissection of a fetal pig in Biology.

Best UConn ECE benefit/ takeaway: Due to taking these college level courses I was ahead of my cohort when starting my Bachelor in Biology in Belgium.

What are you currently doing? I am currently doing an Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree in Tropical Biodiversity and Ecosystems (TROPIMUNDO). I also recently completed an internship at Chondrolab in Chile studying juvenile sharks and have been pursuing my passion in rock-climbing, both indoors and outdoors.

 

2023 UConn ECE Cardboard Boat Race

 

By Jessica Dunn

 

Amidst a very wet fall season, and a rain delay from our original scheduled date of Friday, September 29th, we were able to host our UConn ECE Cardboard Boat Race at the Avery Point Campus on Friday, October 6th. With over 300 students in attendance, we kicked off the academic year with one of our largest annual student events! This year’s theme, School Mascots, in honor of UConn’s newest addition Jonathan XV, brought about much collaboration, dedication, teamwork, and school spirit which was quite evident as students prepared for and participated in the event. Students spent countless hours prior to race day planning and building their handcrafted cardboard and duct tape boats, and then arrived at the event eager to listen, engage, and share failures and successes with their peers and presenters.

 

Students spent the morning in academic demonstrations and presentations with esteemed UConn faculty and staff, enjoyed lunch, UConn Dairy Bar ice cream, and of course were eager to test out their cardboard boats at race time. Amongst the thirteen participating high schools, 19 boats entered into the race for a chance to be named the 2023 Champions and to take home the coveted Championship Trophy. Teams were recognized with trophies for placing 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in each of the four heats. The 1st place boat in the Championship Race, The Morgan School’s “M.S.S. Dog Pound”, took home the cardboard trophy for the second year in a row! In addition to the awards presented for placing in the races, The Morgan School’s “M.S.S. Dog Pound” took home the Best Visual Award, The Sound School’s “Usain Boat” won the Best Boat Name Award, East Granby High School’s “The Templor Transporter” was awarded the new Interdisciplinary Collaboration Award, and University High School of Science & Engineering’s boat, “The Raging Rooster”, earned the People’s Choice Award.

 

This event would not be possible without the dedication of the UConn ECE Instructors who participate, the UConn Faculty and Staff who share their wisdom and knowledge throughout the day, and the amazing student participants who inspire us to offer opportunities such as the Cardboard Boat Race where they express their enthusiasm for learning and challenge themselves to reach new heights in their educational journey.

 

 

Heat 1 Trophies

  1. Waterford High School- Blue & White Skipper
  2. BRASTEC- ANG Haddock
  3. Ellington High School- The Great Knight Shark

Heat 2 Trophies

  1. The Morgan School- M.S.S. Dog Pound
  2. Waterford High School- Lancer Battle Bus
  3. The Sound School- Usain Boat

Heat 3 Trophies

  1. Valley Regional High School- USS Pags
  2. Waterford High School- S.S. Samuelson
  3. The Sound School- Row v. Wave

Heat 4 Trophies

  1. East Granby High School- The Templor Transporter
  2. Ellington High School- The Dark Knight
  3. Waterford High School- WH-yeS!

 

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.

 

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.

 

 

2022 UConn ECE Professional Recognition Award Winners

By Carissa Rutkauskas
The presentation of the 18th annual UConn Early College Experience Professional Recognition Awards, celebrating outstanding teachers and administrators, was successfully celebrated in a hybrid format this year. On April 28th, UConn ECE Staff, award winners, and their guests enjoyed a casual yet celebratory evening of appetizers, mingling, and collegiality as we were able to personally present the winners with their awards. “Thank you”speeches captured during the celebration were then added to pre-recorded and collected footage of our winners, to produce the UConn ECE Professional Recognition Awards Show, which premiered May 19th on the UConn ECE YouTube Channel.

The UConn Early College Experience community and the University of
Connecticut publicly recognize and thank outstanding instructors and
administrators whose dedication and commitment help make UConn ECE
successful. You have exceeded program expectations and excelled in preparing

your high school’s students for the next level in their education.

 

Maureen Vint at library desk
Maureen Vint, Library Media Specialist Nonnewaug High School Library Media Specialist Award for Excellence in Enrichment and Collaboration
Kristina Schule with pie
Kristina Schule Human Development and Family Sciences Greenwich High School “Rookie of the Year” Award for Excellence in First-Year Course Instruction
Karon McGovern portrait
Karon McGovern, American Studies New Fairfield High School Instructor Award for Excellence in Course Instruction
Christine Higgins headshot
Christine Higgins, German Wilton High School Instructor Award for Excellence in Course Instruction
Laura Francis on marine science field trip
Laura Francis, Marine Sciences Coginchaug Regional High School Instructor Award for Excellence in Course Instruction
Dan Cote headshot
Daniel Cote, Philosophy Christian Heritage School Instructor Award for Excellence in Course Instruction
Elizabeth C. with math themed Christmas sweater
Elizabeth Capobianco, Mathematics Trumbull High School Instructor Award for Excellence in Course Instruction
Karen R. headshot
Karen Risley, Site Representative Portland High School Site Representative Award for Excellence in Program Administration
Sean S. at graduation ceremony
Sean Tomany, Principal University High School of Science & Engineering Principal Award for Program Support & Advocacy
Anne Gebelein, Latino and Latin American Studies, UConn Thomas E. Recchio Faculty Coordinator Award for Academic Leadership 

 

Passion Drives Student Wealth – Student Success Plan

By Brian A. Boecherer

 

The definitions of success, wealth, and happiness (and their relationship with each other) are confusing for many in society, but for high school students making their way through a world of transitions, they are even more difficult to locate on a map. Students hear and read countless times that getting into a good college will help them get a good job and good jobs will make them happy. In these engagements a “good job” is infrequently defined, but we have all seen the supplementing graphs in such articles and presentations that show which jobs make the most money and the rest is up for interpretation. The relationship between success, wealth, and happiness can be confusing for students as they plan for life after high school. What does success mean? Is it a concrete thing? A destination? With the pressure to validate one’s successfulness at every turn, we grasp for measures that satisfy a listener and reinforce the conception of success with narrowing variability. Is success and happiness the same as a high-paying job? This is an important conversation to have when helping students to develop their goals for the future. What is the role of happiness in student success?

 

Over the years I have been struck by multiple conversations with students where they choose the potential for a high salary over their own preferences (or even exploring their own preferences). One vivid example occurred when I taught a First Year Experience course at UConn. On the first day of class I would go through the traditional round robin of student introductions, learning names, where each student was from, whether they were a UConn ECE alumnus, and their current major. During the procession one student announced he was going to be a business major to which I asked…

“What interests you about business; which areas do you want to explore?”
“I want to make money,” the student responded.
“What will you do with the money once you earn it?”
“I will be rich.”
“Then you will be happy?”
“It’s better than being poor.” A response met by polite chuckles from others.
“You should look into being an accountant, they make a lot of money,”
another student chimed in.

 

At the time, it never occurred to me to ask the student, “How much money do you need to be happy or to consider yourself a success?” I explored some answers to that question much later, but wish I had been better equipped to offer the conversation to my students when I taught the course.

 

According to research on the relationship between money and happiness, we find a statistically significant relationship between the two, but the evidence also shows that after a point the relationship bears diminishing returns. When looking at the happiest countries in the world, the Scandinavian countries rank highest in terms of happiness and well-being. They also rank among the richest. Causation? The numbers by themselves do not show the whole picture. The respondents in the study reported their happiness was based on having a comfortable standard of living, the freedom to make life choices, supportive social networks, good health, and trust in their government (United Nations World Happiness Report, 2021). Certainly, the first two variables may equate to wealth, but not necessarily.

Harvard University psychologist Daniel Gilbert, also confirms that money plays a part in happiness. While happiness scores go up as salaries go up, the correlation does not last past a certain point. When your annual income gets between $40,000 and $70,000 a year, the research attests, “you’ve bought almost all the happiness you can get.” (Gilbert, D., American Psychological Association, 2010). After that, happiness comes from other sources, and thus, a comfortable standard of living is more of a foundation, than the source.

 

In terms of how we can support our students when navigating their time of great transitions, there is a large body of research that clarifies the conversation on happiness. The two things that matter the most are strong relationships and a sense of meaning and purpose. These two variables interact, as pursuing something that is purposeful often puts us into the orbit of likeminded individuals, helping us to develop deep and lasting relationships.
With students reporting higher rates of loneliness than ever before, the best antidote is re-centering students with conversations about what makes them happy. Ask students, “What are your passions and how do you plan on pursuing them during and after high school?” Research suggests that defining one’s passions is not easy for students and they revert to answers like, getting into a good college and getting a good job. These vagaries avoid self-exploration. As parents and teachers are a student’s best sources of advice and leadership, reflecting and sharing critical points in our own life story, is a key tool to help them unlock their own understanding.

 

In addition, as Dr. Martin Seligman, who founded the field of Positive Psychology suggests, it is vital to show students that meaning and purpose must be internally defined, not defined by others. That is, while there are many global issues that need our attention, being active on these issues or becoming a public leader should not be the absolute standard by which we define success or find purpose. Joining clubs, helping in your local community, advancing issues as we self-determine, and pursuing academic interests and hobbies are all part of a meaningful life. Being engaged and exploratory is to be passionate. The connection between passion and developing relationships is also clear. A simple Google search shows the millions of articles, ranging from academic journals to men’s and women’s magazines, that discuss why people who are passionate about something attract others. Passionate people never seem to be bored or boring to others. They have stories to tell, information to share, and are hungry to learn more, which requires communication. Passionate people are magnets for teaching, learning, and unlocking opportunities for themselves and for others.

 

Targeting happiness as a goal is also not the same as advocating for poverty. With such a diverse economy, following one’s passions often results in financial gains. The objective is to put the horse before the cart and advocate for passions leading to a comfortable standard of living, rather than a standard of living leading to happiness and fulfillment. Breaking the over-simplified and often extreme wealth-happiness conception may not be easy. Part of the issue is that the feeling of financial security is hard to define and when the world is less stable (since the Great Recession), money seems to be the best buoy on a rough sea. According to a study conducted by Ameriprise Financial in 2019, only 13% of Americans with at least $1 million of investable assets felt wealthy. Six in 10 of these same people define themselves as “upper middle class”, while 25 percent identify as being “middle class.” (Ameriprise Financial, 2019)
Talking to students about the basics is the best approach in helping them include happiness, passion, and purpose as part of their student success plan. We are all afraid of admitting to what we don’t know. When a student can’t find a “satisfactory” answer to what things they are passionate about or what may give them purpose, the easiest deflection is over-simplification. The world is more complicated than ever before and with each generation the transition to adulthood is tougher. Let’s help each other by starting the discussion, sharing the statistics we do know, and leaving time for reflection and revision.

Faculty Coordinator: Anthony Rizzie

By Brian A. Boecherer

 

Get to know our faculty and learn some tricks of the trade with advice they have to offer. Here our Faculty Coordinator in Mathematics answers questions about his personal and professional interests as well as how he has transitioned to teaching during these challenging times.

 

Q. How long teaching at UConn?
A. I started August 2015

 

Q. How long in Teaching?
A. I taught my first class (officially) in August 2009

 

Q. Favorite course you teach at UConn and why?
A. Decisions…let’s say Math 1030Q (Elementary Discrete Mathematics) because it may be my last chance to change someone’s outlook on math for the rest of their life.

 

Q. Tell us why you got into teaching and a bit about how you see your role as a teacher?
A. I used to stay after school to do free tutoring in math in high school, and I continued tutoring regularly throughout undergrad
at Ball State University. I got a chance to fill in for a professor for a class of Differential Equations for a week who was away at a conference, and that experience solidified for me my love of teaching math. I went to graduate school at Purdue University, and surprise surprise, but I loved teaching classes there and tutoring still whenever I could. I live to see a student’s “aha” moment, and I strive to create a classroom environment that is both fun and helps shift students from a fixed mindset to that of a growth mindset.

 

Q. You won the Thomas E. Recchio Faculty Coordinator Award for Academic Leadership this past year. What would you say is core to your philosophy as Faculty Coordinator of Mathematics?
A. I wholeheartedly believe in running a program that is flexible and attentive to the needs of both the students and teachers. This past year, in particular, has been tremendously difficult for everyone, but it led to several unprecedented situations and abrupt changes-in-schedule that were disruptive in completing the standard ECE curriculum for the math courses and giving assessments in the usual way. We all made it work and worked within the parameters that we had (which varied significantly from school district to school district!), and I thank everyone teaching ECE Mathematics and in the ECE Office for their support and advice as we navigated that challenge together!

 

Q. As the youngest winner of this award, what advice would you give to other young professionals about leadership?
A. Listen. I think that listening and being receptive to feedback and change are among the most important aspects of being a good leader. Over the last few years, I have encountered various policies, regulations, and rules that seem to be no longer working, worth maintaining, or are not worth the time cost for the little gain, so I have heard that feedback and made various changes while not sacrificing the rigor of the program and the consistency that we strive for with the UConn Mathematics courses.

 

Q. Your teaching methodologies are legend at UConn, tell me one thing you do that you think is especially cool.
A. Legend, huh? I guess landing myself in a few Reddit posts that went viral counts, but that’s for another time…I started doing a “bad math joke of the day” in my Multivariable Calculus courses, which I taught for about five years straight. When I recorded videos for an online version of the course back in 2018, I made sure to record all of the jokes to create the same experience. I now regularly teach Differential Equations, and many of my students, coming from my Multi course, ask if I also do bad jokes in that class. After years of wearing me down, I finally gave in and created a “bad joke of the week” for that class as well, with each joke completely different from those in Multi! Students regularly tell me in course feedback that this is their favorite part of the course(s). Am I just a joke to them? 😉

 

Q. Many in our UConn ECE Community watched the awards ceremony and many of our teacher’s and staff’s children believe you are the real Spiderman. Can you offer a comment to our community?
A. You forgot the hyphen in my name; it’s “Spider-Man”…I mean… *cough* his name.

A Lasting Legacy

By Carissa Rutkauskas and Jessica Dunn

 

Background

Brian A. Boecherer began his 21-year involvement with the program as a high school student at Norwich Free Academy. The UConn English and Modern European History courses he completed while still in high school were a success, but he found his Chemistry course to be very challenging and made the tough decision to drop the course. Dropping the course wasn’t a failure though: it opened the door for Brian to explore his academic interests while in high school and shaped the future of his academic career.

 

In the fall of 1999, Brian matriculated to UConn to study German and International Relations of Russian and Eastern Europe with nine UConn credits under his belt. It didn’t take long for Brian to seek employment at UConn, and was hired as a student worker for the High School Co-operative Program for Superior Students, under the leadership of Michael Menard. After a period of neglect, lack of leadership and funding, the program was in a period of revitalization and needed  institutional support. With only one and a half professional support staff for the Co-op program, Menard relied heavily on Brian’s work ethic and interpersonal skills and tasked him with professional staff responsibilities as a freshman. Brian took great pride in his role in the office. He studied Menard’s leadership style closely with emphasis on student, faculty, and instructor engagement, he was given the opportunity to act independently and make programmatic decisions, and preserved the history of the program as he saved countless primary institutional documents from the shredder.

 

Brian continued a relationship with the Co-op program, working in the summers, while pursuing his first Master’s Degree at the University of Toronto. Brian’s experience and institutional knowledge of the program was integral, as through a retirement and promotion, there was a complete office turnover in 2004. Under the newly hired Director, he was appointed Assistant Director in 2005, a role which he held for six and a half years. Under this title, he created a development plan to reintroduce schools to the program, presented a professional development plan, and championed a name change from the High School Co-operative Program of Superior Students to UConn Early College Experience. Realizing that a strong rapport between the schools and the Co-op program needed to be strengthened to preserve true partnerships, he started a “UConn ECE road show.” Brian got on the road and single handedly visited100% of partner schools in 2006, and 75% is 2007. In this time he built up strong partnerships with all high schools and made it a priority to maintain them ever since.

 

In 2008, with strong high school partnerships in place, Brian shifted his focus to serve the students. Brian pioneered one of the first student events, The Globalization Conference which has remained an annual event. For this event UConn ECE Students are invited to a UConn campus where they are tasked with presenting a critical review of the year’s chosen topic and offer concrete solutions to the issue that are both politically and economically viable.

The Last 10 Years

In 2012, Brian became the Director for Research and Development of UConn ECE and the Associate Director of the Office of Early College Programs. During this time, he communicated the programs direct impact on departments/programs and research initiatives to University administration and engaged in research for program improvement. Brian was instrumental in UConn ECE’s 2014 NACEP reaccreditation. He was awarded a NACEP grant to create a credit transfer database and also developed an advising portal, both of which are updated annually and still used today. During this time he continued to make and strengthen his connections with faculty, staff, and students.

Brian became the Executive Director of the Office of Early College Programs & UConn Early College Experience in May 2015, having just completed a second master’s degree in Political Science and Government. The 2016-2017 school year marked UConn ECE’s first year of offering competitive student scholarships and classroom grants, as well as grants to enhance faculty coordinator-led professional development for UConn ECE Instructors. His ability to draw people together for a common goal also led to UConn ECE supporting the Connecticut High School Ethics Bowl, Connecticut History Day, and the Connecticut Science Olympiad. Brian’s encouragement of others to do the same has inspired others to develop events such as the Marine Science Symposium, Chemistry Days, language immersion days and quiz bowls, and countless other events.

 

In 2020 he won the UConn Unsung Hero Award, awarded to a person who is continually both a real benefit to coworkers and a stable, dependable resource for the entire University and consistently goes above and beyond, without fanfare or public recognition. Eighteen of his colleagues nominated him, with sentiments of appreciation such as:

  • …he expanded the office and changed the ethos into a smooth running machine serving programs across the state. He favors an idea-driven environment over a task-driven one…
  • With over 20 years of service to the University, Brian is a true idol… he made it a personal and professional goal to open the door to higher education for all students of Connecticut…
  • His creativity, enthusiasm, politeness and grace always made me feel at ease. I knew that I could reach to Brian for any concern or new idea that I had.
  • It takes a brave person to provide that kind of autonomy to such a crew of diverse employees, but courage is only one of his noteworthy attributes.

 

Two thousand twenty was also the year that COVID-19 came into our lives. Brian navigated this new challenge with grace and elegance, continuously communicating with our high school partners to create a sense of stability to UConn ECE students and families in a sea of unknowns. The pandemic didn’t slow Brian’s receptive and innovative nature down. Over the last 21 months of remote work, we’ve successfully transformed the Professional Recognition Awards Ceremony from a refined, sit down dinner event to an on-line show; transitioned to a state-of-the-art student registration system eliminating an onerous 5 step process; and started a partnership with the Connecticut Department of Correction’s Unified School District #1 to offer UConn courses to high school students in juvenile detention.

Impact

Brian leaves a legacy of hundreds of thousands of students who were given the opportunity to experience a college course in high school. From a program of roughly 2,000 students when he started his first professional role at UConn in 2005 to the end of 2021 with an enrollment of nearly 14,000 students, students in the state of Connecticut have had more opportunities because of him. There has been over a 40% increase in school partnerships through his tireless outreach and course offerings have more than doubled since 2005. As editor-in-chief of the bi-annual UConn ECE Magazine, he offers his insights and sparks contemplation to the UConn ECE community through his “Director’s Thoughts” and eloquent pieces.

 

Brian has contributed to the greater field of concurrent enrollment through the publication of his chapter, Bridging the High School-College Gap: The Role of Concurrent Enrollment (Chapter 16),
and annual presentations, board membership, and volunteer service at NACEP and NEACEP. He is a concurrent enrollment advocate in the state, often presenting at legislative meetings and working with the State Department of Education. Brian has always been willing to speak to and offer advice to developing programs – whether they are within the UConn ECE realm, other CT institutions or out-of-state.

In 2020, Brian was instrumental in a state-wide initiative which finally put dual/ concurrent enrollment programs on par with Advanced Placement in the State of Connecticut. The State added dual/ concurrent program on Next Generation Accountability Index (Indicator 6), which is used to rank high schools in the State of Connecticut. In this 2019 email to UConn ECE partners, Brian advocates:

The State Department of Education has what is called the Accountability Index that gives high schools an overall rating based on the programs they provide and also the programs their students use. There are 12 indicators that form a score for the high school. Indicator 5: Preparation for Postsecondary and Career Readiness – Coursework gives a high school points for the percentage of students in grades 11 and 12 who take AP/IB and dual enrollment courses (i.e., UConn ECE). We were always part of Indicator 5. Indicator 6: Preparation for Postsecondary and Career Readiness – Exams give schools points based on the percentage of students who earn “benchmark score[s]” in SAT, ACT, AP, and IB. Indicator 6 states that it is about student performance on college/career readiness exams, and we were previously not a part of this indicator, which resulted in external pressure to choose other advanced programs instead of UConn ECE for the benefit of high school rank.

 

His tireless work promoting the value of college classes in high schools to the State Department of Education and encouraging UConn ECE partners to advocate their worth resulted in this major victory of dual/ concurrent enrollment programs to be counted in both Indicator 5 and Indicator 6 Accountability Index.

 

But Brian won’t tell you any of that. Or that the above only talks about one, albeit the largest of the four programs in his purview as Executive Director of the Office of Early College Programs. He is more concerned about you, his colleague, his student, or his friend. His naturally altruistic outlook and belief that every student should have access to, and preparation for, higher education can’t help but result in strong relationships to all those who meet him.

 

The UConn ECE community will be happy to hear that Brian will continue on this path of supporting institutions of learning to build a better society as his launches his new business, Olive Shade Higher Education Consulting, where he will support early college programming for high schools. Brian, we wish you infinite success in your exciting new endeavor!

News to Know

NACEP Conference

UConn ECE staff attended the annual NACEP conference for the 16th consecutive year. Blending lessons learned at last year’s virtual conference with prior in person conferences, the 2021 conference was a blended opportunity for concurrent enrollment professionals to gather in person in Orland, FL, or attend virtual breakout sessions. While Brian Boecherer and Jessica Dunn attended from a distance, Carissa Rutkauskas was on site, participating in outdoor conversations at the Tibet-Butler Preserve, Latinos in Action, 20% time, a state and regional gathering (connection with Amy Hubbard, the new NEACEP president, among other presentations and networking opportunities. UConn ECE has proudly sponsored NACEP since 2005.

 

Welcome Jessica Hinckley

Please officially welcome Jessica Hinckley on board. Jessica is the Office of Early College Program’s Billing and Operations Specialist. She is responsible for managing program billing and fee waivers and purchasing support materials for workshops and summer programs. Jessica attended the University of Connecticut where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychological Sciences. You may have already been in communication with Jessica, as she has worked with us during her undergraduate career!

 

Congratulations to David Wilock

Wilton High School. HIST 1400. Congratulations to Dr. Wilock for earning his Ph.D. in History from St. John’s University. His dissertation centered on Yale College during the American Revolutionary period.

 

10th Annual Cardboard Boat Race

Though UConn ECE did not participate for the second year in a row due to concerns over the coronavirus, Avery Point carried on the tradition on September 22, as did Waterford High School on September 30, albeit in a swimming pool! Michael O’Connor’s Marine Science and James Lovering’s Physics students paddle their way across the pool in vessels made of nothing more than cardboard and duct tape.

 

 

Elise Weisenbach, Branford High School, La Plaza Virtual

 

This summer, University of Connecticut Early College Experience Latin American Studies (Spanish/ LAS)
students Sushant Kunwar, Andrew Bono Alex Sweeney designed web pages using HTML and WordPress for the University of Connecticut’s El Instituto: Institute of Latino/a, Caribbean and Latin American Studies.

 

The website, La Plaza Virtual New England, consists of curricula for Latino, Latin American, and Caribbean studies used by high school teachers and college professors across New England. The main goal was to make webpages as streamlined, organized, and accessible as possible for Sra. Weisenbach’s curricula: Cuba at the Crossroads, Human Rights in the Southern Cone: Spotlight on Argentina, Immigration: Cultural Crossroads of the Americas, and Cultural Heritage of Mesoamerica: Traditional Mexican Cuisine Across Time. ECE Spanish/LAS alum Hanna Bloomquist (BHS 2021, Columbia Univ. 2025) edited and revised documents. Sammi Esposito (BHS 2020, UConn 2024) created a unit of study on European perceptions of native foods in Colonial Mexico (don’t eat potatoes or your beard won’t grow), the use of food to facilitate religious practices and to coerce native peoples into following Catholicism, the portrayal of food in Colonial paintings, and the impact of colonization on Mexican food culture. Mia Josephy-Zack (BHS 2020, UMass 2024) and
Josh Josephy-Zack(BHS 2020, Harvard 2024) continue as technical consultants for the site. Also, Mia is writing a curricular unit, Threats to Traditional Mexican Cuisine with focus on how the environmental changes impact traditional food culture.

 

The department is proud of current and former ECE Spanish/LAS students pursuing their interest in culture, history and language during the summer by volunteering their time to work on the UConn website.

 

Jev Hohnson, Somers High School, Beats

Jev writes music and makes some beats with an EDM device. He posted a few songs to SoundCloud, including a jingle for an online motorsports league that he participates in. https://soundcloud.com/jeverett29/aorabrrn