Out of all Hartford Public Schools’ rising ninth graders, 96% have already signed onto Naviance and begun a post-secondary plan. Among the Class of 2022, 115 new Hartford Promise Scholars will be attending college this fall. And Hartford Public Schools’ graduation rate has jumped 3.5% to 72.3% this year, despite all the challenges students have faced living through the pandemic the past two years. These figures, shared by Hartford Superintendent Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez and Hartford Promise Executive Director Richard Sugarman at the HPS Spring Showcase, represent just some of the students’ milestones.

Meanwhile, the Career Pathways program provides HPS students exposure to career opportunities with Connecticut employers, and many former Pathways students go on to work for companies where they had interned, Torres-Rodriguez told an audience of community partners, students, employers and HPS staff gathered at Weaver High School June 1 to celebrate students’ success. “Career Pathways keep students engaged and shows them what they’re capable of,” she said.

Specifically, every comprehensive high school has two career pathway options that include: engineering and green tech, and allied health at Hartford Public High; leadership and public service, and computer science at Bulkeley High; and insurance, and journalism and media at Weaver High. Some 600 students are enrolled in these programs across six different sectors, said Medeline Negrón, chief of academics, teaching, learning and student supports. 

During a break-out session reviewing career pathways, Hartford High rising senior Bryan Ortiz, serving on the panel, said he was looking forward to what he would learn at an internship with Pratt & Whitney to begin at the end of June. “I heard really good things about Pratt & Whitney from the people who interned last year,” he said. “I’m excited for the hands-on opportunity.”

Hartford High School Principal Flora Padro said the internships serve to motivate students to do well she they improve their chance of being selected for one of the competitive pathway positions. These internships offer something different from their school experience, and having this opportunity has sparked passion in students after the internship experience, Padro said. More than 93% of students enrolled in pathway programs remain in passing status throughout the year, she said. 

These experiences give students a peak into a whole new world and introduce them to different careers and what credentials they need to qualify for that career, said Awilda Rodriguez, with Career Beginnings. 

The internships have led to job opportunities for participating students after their internships end. For example, said panelist Rachel Bader, Travelers second vice president, the insurance company has continued to offer the students scholarships and internships and has hired former pathway students after they graduate.