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Norwalk’s Briggs High School Receives State Recognition

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy works with Briggs High School student Willie Junes on Algebra I homework during a visit to the school Friday. Photo Credit: Alfred Branch
Briggs High School Principal Marie Allen, right, and Gov. Dannel Malloy Friday during the governor's visit to the school. Photo Credit: Alfred Branch
Norwalk's interim Superintendent Tony Daddona, left, speaks during Gov. Dannel Malloy's visit to Briggs High School Friday. State Rep. Bruce Morris (over Daddona's left shoulder) and state Sen. Bob Duff, center, look on. Photo Credit: Alfred Branch
Connecticut Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor speaks during a visit with Gov. Dannel Malloy at Briggs High School in Norwalk on Friday. State Sen. Bob Duff looks on. Photo Credit: Alfred Branch

NORWALK, Conn. – Briggs High School, Norwalk’s alternative high school that specializes in individual instruction for some of the city’s struggling students, is in line to receive $500,000 to $1 million in state money to improve its offerings.

Briggs has been designated as one of a half-dozen Commissioner’s Network schools, a year-old program designed to help under-performing schools with “innovative and transformative initiatives that reach beyond surface reforms.”

The Norwalk school system applied twice for the designation before being accepted. The district now needs to meet other requirements, including filling out a more specific application, before receiving the funding, state Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor said Friday.

“The overriding theme is that there are second chances,” Pryor said. “The students in this school have faced certain barriers in their lives, and they are making a comeback.”

Briggs has seen its enrollment increase from 48 students at the beginning of the school year to 79. With the help of the state grant and other private donations, officials hope to reach an enrollment of 120.

Gov. Dannel Malloy visited the school Friday and highlighted that accomplishment.

“Briggs is becoming a school of real choice for students and parents,” said Malloy, stressing that the school’s effort to give individualized instruction is paying dividends. “They are realizing that this is a model that fits their needs.”

Malloy is earmarking $27.5 million in his spending proposal for the Commissioner’s Network program, which could eventually help about two-dozen schools around the state.

The governor, who struggled with dyslexia as a child and still occasionally experiences difficulty reading and writing, said helping students overcome challenges is important. He said he understands their struggles.

“I was not a particularly good reader as a child,” Malloy said.

Norwalk Board of Education Chairman Michael Lyons said he is particularly proud that the state is recognizing Briggs High School after the city's recent education budget battles.

“There were people who pressured us to close this school, but the board said no, we would find a way to get through this and keep it open,” Lyons said. “Today, this recognition shows us that we made the right decision.”

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