GEAR UP Parents Learn about Free Energize CT Services and Educational Outreach

DEC. 15-2014 NEW HAVEN, CT—Maritza Estremer, HES-IE Associate Program Administrator at the United Illuminating Company (UI), was one of several speakers to present an important informational session at the Dec. 15 GEAR UP Parent workshop. The session focused on teaching parents how to use and understand the state’s Energy Efficiency Programs, many of which offer significant cost savings. It also focused on educational initiatives and helpful tips for parents, including how to interpret students’ transcripts and use a career advising computer program.

Recently, UI, a New Haven-based regional electric distribution company established in 1899, has become one of GEAR UP’s partners. One of the ways in which UI partners with the GEAR UP community is by providing informational workshops. GEAR UP is required to match every federal dollar its programs receive with in-kind or cash contributions from the community, which is why it has partner organizations. The goal is that once GEAR UP grants are over, the programs put in place by partners will be sustainable.

Maritza specifically spoke about key ways for parents to save on utilities. For example, they learned that one benefit of an energy efficient home equates to resale values rising up to 15% higher than traditional homes. All Connecticut customers are also eligible for FREE, in-home weatherization services and CFL replacement light bulbs, which are highly energy efficient compared to normal bulbs.

Additionally, parents learned about Energize Connecticut’s K-12 Energy education programs and outreach services, workshops and professional development for educators, and an energy focused educational curriculum aligned with The Common Core.

Jackie Gardner, Guidance Counselor from Bridgeport Military Academy, also presented a session about the types of issues parents should address with their student’s guidance counselors. She handed out brochures summarizing the services that these counselors provide to students as well as their families. She also reviewed various ways that parents can better understand how to interpret their student’s transcripts, for example, knowing what a weighted average is verses an un-weighted average.

Barb Nangle, GEAR UP Program Coordinator, also led a presentation introducing parents to Naviance, the college and career advising computer program and website GEAR UP has purchased for its students and their families to use. GEAR UP advisors use Naviance as well in their academic advising sessions with students.

There will be a follow up presentation on using Naviance at the GEAR UP January Parent Workshop, which will be held Monday, January 12 from 5:30-7:30 at Bridgeport Public Library, 925 Broad St. In that session, parents and students will work in small groups conducting brief academic advising sessions with their academic advisors. Parents will also learn how to use Power School, the district’s student information system, to monitor their teen’s academic progress.