N E W S L E T T E R        Summer  2017

   Director's Message
 
Dear Friends of DSABC,

As the 2016 - 2017 school year drew to a close, it was a time to reflect back on the continued success of DSABC that is made possible through the tireless commitment demonstrated by all of the individuals, companies, community partners and schools that support the mentoring program. It is both humbling and inspiring to hear about your mentoring experiences and I appreciate your willingness to share your stories with others. Thank you to everyone for your time, dedication and ongoing support of DSABC.  

DSABC continued implementation of its three-year strategic plan during the 2016 - 2017 school year. The strategic plan provides DSABC with a three year roadmap for supports, services, and organization development to ensure that we are effectively responding to the current opportunities and challenges.  Measurable progress was made this year in several strategic areas. 
 
One element of the strategic plan is to develop an approach to broaden our base of support. With that goal in mind, the DSABC Fundraising Committee has been busy planning an exciting event to benefit our programs and scholarship fund. On Saturday, August 12th, the first annual Mentor Mash Summer Fest will be held at the Ives Concert Park. There will be several live music performers and plenty of fun activities for the kids. We hope to draw a large crowd in support of DSABC so please share with your family, friends and co-workers.

I hope you are all enjoying a safe and relaxing summer!

Kind regards,

Ellen

Ellen Meyst
DSABC Executive Director

Mentor Mash Summer Fest 
Saturday, August 12th
12 PM - 8 PM
Ives Concert Park
with Live Music, Food Trucks, Kids Activities & Local Vendors! 
Attention Mentors : Year End Survey
We truly value your opinion.  If you haven't had the chance to complete the year end Mentor Survey, please take a few moments to do so by clicking here:

Thank you to everyone who has already responded - your feedback has been helpful. 

DSABC Celebrates Caring Mentors, Thriving Students, Lasting Connections
 27th Annual breakfast honors volunteers, students

By Robin Provey

This year's annual Danbury Schools and Business Collaborative (DSABC) breakfast was a celebration of lasting connections and lifelong friendships. For more than 25 years, the non-profit organization has matched students in the Danbury Public Schools and Henry Abbott Regional Technical School with mentors. There are currently 250 mentoring volunteers.

Twenty area employers were represented at the breakfast held May 18 at the Amber Room Colonnade. There were 28 mentors honored for their longevity from five to 25 years, and 12 graduating students received scholarships. Former DSABC director Mary Arconti Gregory, who stepped down in February, was honored for 11 years of service. 

"Upon reading the graduates' reflections, the theme of mentors making a difference in the lives of the students was apparent throughout," said DSABC's new director Ellen Meyst. "Students today are facing greater challenges, and the benefits of a one-one-one relationship with a caring adult are significant and long-lasting."

As an example of a mentor's impact, Meyst shared that a longtime mentor recently heard from a student he mentored 20 years ago through social media and that the student, now a father, realized how much having a DSABC mentor changed his life. He wrote: "Just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate you and what you did for me when I was younger. You were a positive male role model since the first day you came into my life . . . In many ways, you taught me how to be a man."

Meyst, who was with DSABC for six years prior to being chosen as director, said the message exemplifies the work that the mentors do.

"The passion of our volunteers, the incredible support from our corporate and community partners, the dedication of the Danbury Public School staff as well as the commitment of our Board of Directors is truly an inspiration and together, you're making a difference," Meyst said.

The mentors of this year's graduating seniors and their students shared how they felt about the opportunity given to them through DSABC.

Senior Allen Quade has had the same mentor, Sally Conroy, for the past 12 years. 


"Sally was one of the only adults I could count on to not force their opinions on what I should do but would always be there when I needed guidance," said Allen, who will attend the University of Connecticut Storrs in the fall to study psychological sciences. "I can say with the utmost certainty that between all of our meetings, I wouldn't be the person I am today without Sally." 


Carl Zinn has mentored Ramel Barnes for the past seven years.

"Ramel has changed my life and helped me in ways I never thought possible," Zinn said. "I hope I had one-tenth the impact on his life that he has had on mine. The love for life that he has is something that I will always be thankful for. Being around him has made me love life more and more. I am very proud of him."


Edward Dayton has been Luis Rodriguez's mentor for eight years.

"Honestly Ed has always been there for me in everything I do. I do not see him as a mentor, I see him as a friend instead," Luis said. "I will keep in contact with him even after high school because he is a good friend of mine. He is the most awesome and coolest person I know."


Dayton said: "Luis has grown into a tall, strong young man both in physique and character and I am very proud of him. It has been my pleasure and honor to watch Luis grow and mature over these 10 years. And in just four short weeks, I'll sit on a bleacher and watch this young man I have grown quite fond of walk across Danbury High's athletic field, receive the diploma he so deserves and walk off into his future." 

Michael Ferguson, DSABC board chair, presented the DSABC Service Awards, and Dr. Sal Pascarella, Danbury schools superintendent, presented scholarships to 12 graduating seniors.

Pascarella, in thanking the mentors, talked about the mental health of students and the proven success of programs such as DSABC.

"Those connections - you can't replace them," Pascarella said. "Legacy and connection are what this program is all about. When a student says you made a big difference in my life - that's what legacy is all about."

More photos from the 2017 Annual Scholarship & Awards Breakfast 
are posted on our Facebook Page. 

2017
DSABC Scholarship Recipients



Graduate
School
Mentor
Ramel Barnes
  Alternative Center for Excellence
Carl Zinn
Kaisy Cabrera
Danbury High School
Dawn Sturgill
Elizabeth DeSousa
  Henry Abbott Technical School
Ileana Rodriguez
Angela DeSouza
Danbury High School
Melissa Mejia
Morgan Grube
  Henry Abbott Technical School
Danielle O'Rourke
Jenny Gabriela Loja Paltin
  Henry Abbott Technical School
Kathi Heering
Hunter Mancini
Danbury High School
Jim Moretti
Rashelle Moya
  Alternative Center for Excellence
Pamela Mazzarella
Allan Quade
Danbury High School
Sally Conroy
Lesliann Rodriguez Murray
  Alternative Center for Excellence
Claudia Menezes
Luis Rodriguez
Danbury High School
Edward Dayton
Emily Webb
Alternative Center for Excellence
Janice Thoma s



Congratulations 
to our
Mentors
Years of Service 
Awards


25 Years 
George Collins
Peggy Wilczewski

20 Years 
Rick Hoddinott
Glenn Martin
Ana Perdigoto
15 Years 
Robin Shepard
Dawn Sturgill
Rosanne Mancini

10 Years
Sherry Cheng-Dexter
Edward Dayton
Frances Hendrickson
Marsha Holland
Ileana Rodriguez
William Rogers
Joyce Sands
Janice Thomas
5 Years 
Nercida Fernandez
Lorraine McInerney
Arthur Sinclair
Laura Garza Lopez
Deolinda Moniz
Kelley Troccolo
Ava Guastella
Elisa Pica
Madeline  Wilczewski
Glyn Lipham
Emily Pogers
Andrea Whitcher-Johnstone
Thanks to our Donors 
Rick Hoddinott               Claudia Menezes
and Breakfast Sponsors
Branson Ultrasonics         Cartus          NEA Danbury          Newtown Savings Bank   Pitney Bowes              Praxair          Savings Bank of Danbury      
 U nion Savings Bank            UTC Aerospace Systems
Mentors Offer Experience for 
Danbury Early College Opportunity Students  
Meet and Greet Experience' teaches professional skills 
By Robin Provey

More than 70 students enrolled in the Danbury Early College Opportunity at Danbury High School met with their corporate mentors for the final time this school year at the "Meet and Greet Experience" on June 9. 

During the two-hour mentor "meet and greet" held at the Westside campus of Western Connecticut State University, students and their mentors from corporations that include Pitney Bowes, NewOak and other local businesses worked in groups sharing their final products while focusing on presentations skills. Since February, students have worked with mentors to find solutions to environmental problems that can be addressed using technology. The focus of the June 9 event was for students to hone their presentation skills. Under the watchful eye of a mentor with corporate experience, students had the chance to present their projects and then receive professional feedback to improve.

The DECO degree program is a partnership with Naugatuck Valley Community College. Students will begin accelerating their high school requirements so that by sophomore or junior year they can begin incorporating college-level courses. They can expect to complete the Associate Degree in four, five or six years.

DECO students interact with mentors from area corporations through an online platform providing guidance and advice on developing workplace skills. They meet with their mentors face to face several times a year at the meet and greet events.

Heath Durlester, from Pitney Bowes, mentors four students individually and said his group made an air filter fitted for a bicycle to help air pollution. Students Rene Rodriguez, Aliyah Seng and Robert Yastremski were exhibiting their work using Power Point while Durlester, other corporate mentors and students offered feedback.

"We have the ability to help them refine their solution (to a problem), and today is the end result. We never want to squash their ideas," Durlester said.

Like the many other mentors from Pitney Bowes and NewOak, Durlester finds working with the students at this level rewarding.


"This is part of my passion and love for helping students see where they can take their careers," Durlester said.

Sam Roberts, also from Pitney Bowes, worked with his students on a project that filters plastics from the ocean. He said it was challenging to help them shape their ideas in the early stages.


"I bring the practicality to them," Roberts said. "Some things didn't work. It's interesting dealing with them and understanding how their psyches work. They teach me that they are bright and have different ideas, and they give me inspiration."

The DECO students ended up presenting their projects about seven or eight times, each time getting feedback on which to build their skills. 
Another Pitney Bowes mentor, Patrick Sweeney watched his students present their Eco-Heroes Project: absorbent material on the bottom of a boat serves to remove oil from the water after a spill. Sweeney said he was impressed with the group dynamics and how everyone fell into a role.

"I try to bring together the school knowledge and the professional skills," Sweeney said.

Michael LaPerch of Pitney Bowes said that his group built a water conservation system that recycles rain water so it can be sent to areas that need it. LaPerch said he enjoyed seeing the changes in his students.

"Some are no longer shy. They are able to accept their responsibilities," he said. "It's fun to watch, and they are very good at accepting feedback."

Anders Drew, of NewOak, also mentors four students; this is his second year working with the DECO students. This year's group created an awareness campaign app for de-forestation. Drew said the biggest challenge was getting students focused on deciding what to do and then delegating responsibilities.


"It's important to work with people in business who know the environment. The DECO program helps bridge that gap. It's one thing to hear feedback from your teachers, but it's helpful to hear from someone in the business," Drew said "(Our participation) is important because what we do is directly tied in with the business world."
Mentors Needed
One-on-One Mentoring and DECO Workplace Learning E-Mentoring Programs need YOU to help us prepare for the new school year! Our current mentors are our best recruiters. Do you belong to a civic club or organization whose members might be interested in mentoring?   Share your experience and spread the word that DSABC is recruiting new mentors.

DSABC One-on-One Mentor Program:

Approximately 50 new mentors needed to meet the requests. 

A school based program that matches a supportive and caring adult who assists students to succeed in school by developing a one on one relationship. Mentors serve as a positive adult role model providing moral support and encouragement. One-on-One Mentors meet with their mentee weekly at the student's school throughout the duration of the school year. 


WorkPlace Learning E-Mentoring Program:

Approximately 70 new mentors needed for the 2017-18 cohort.

Mentors interact with Danbury High School students participating in the Early College Opportunity Program. Via an online platform, mentors provide guidance and advice on developing workplace skills by engaging in activities aligned with the Workplace Learning Class curriculum. Mentors meet with their mentees in group setting up to 4 times per year.

Danbury Day at the Capitol

On May 16th, all things Danbury were celebrated at the Connecticut State Capitol.  Michael Ferguson, State Representative, CT 138th and his fellow legislative representatives of Danbury hosted Danbury Day.   Also in attendance were Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton and Superintendent Dr. Sal Pascarella in a celebration of of the wonderful things happening in Danbury.



Six Danbury Public Schools named as Schools of Distinction by the Connecticut State Department of Education were recognized and the principals were presented with General Assembly citations. 

Honorees included: Ellsworth Avenue School, Hayestown 
Avenue School,
Mill Ridge Primary School, Morris Street School, South Street School and Park Avenue School. 

DSABC was represented by board members Farley Santos, Bob Port, Carl Zinn, Steve Gagnon, Nelson Merchan and Director, Ellen Meyst as well as our board chair and co-host of the event, Michael Ferguson.
Calendar Watch
September

 5 - First Day of School - Full Day
19 - One Hour Early Release
21 - Rosh Hashanah - Schools Closed
26 - One Hour Early Release
29 - Early Dismissal

Due to construction at Danbury High School, Danbury Public Schools will hold the first day of classes on Tuesday, September 5th, for the 2017-2018 school year.   It will be a full  school day. The plan will be to return to a start date in late August the  following school year.


"Construction at the high school has been moving along according to schedule," said Superintendent Dr. Sal Pascarella, "but we just need an extra week to assure that the  building is ready to accommodate students at the beginning of school. We have made adjustments to the entire calendar to ensure that the school year is not unnecessarily  extended to make up for the late start."

The first day of school for Henry Abbott Technical School is Friday, August 29th. 
    Support DSABC while you shop

Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to DSABC when you 
shop via this link: 

http://smile.amazon.com/ch/06-1590417 
We want to hear from YOU!
In order to make our newsletter as relevant and interesting as possible, we need YOUR input for future publications.   Share your mentoring stories, tell us why you became a mentor or let us know how your company supports mentoring. 
Email contributions to  meyste@danbury.k12.ct.us. 

The Mission of DSABC is to Help Danbury Public School Students Achieve Personal and Academic Success.

Our Tool: School Based Mentoring

DSABC is a 501 (c) 3 Charitable Organization. Please consider supporting our mentoring and scholarship programs .


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