Animo Leadership Charter High School

Animo Leadership Charter High School

Waterbury, CT: Offers The Best Communities For Your Home In Connecticut

Posted on June 4, 2018 in Uncategorized

First established in 1674 in an area the Indians called ‘Matetacoke’ or poorly wooded area, this original settlement known as Mattatuck would come to be Waterbury – Connecticut’s fifth largest city. Waterbury is a community filled with history, architectural beauty, culture and opportunity making it one of Connecticut’s best cities for your home and family.

Throughout the first half of the Twentieth Century Waterbury was the leading center in the country for the manufacture of brassware giving the city the nickname the “Brass City”. It continues to retool to meet the demands and needs of today’s era after heavy industry.

Health care career opportunities abound in Waterbury. Both Saint Mary’s Hospital and Waterbury Hospital operate here. Skilled nursing facilities, a regional cancer care center, and other health care services are also located in the city.

The Palace Theater once again draws audiences to the city center as a historic downtown venue recently renovated as part of a $200 million economic redevelopment project for the City of Waterbury and the State of Connecticut. The city has a large town green, beautiful churches, flourishing restaurants, and other architectural landmarks that are all part of the downtown area.

Away from the downtown center, long-time family communities including many from ethnic backgrounds continue to live in close knit neighborhoods. These diverse ethnic communities also support and maintain a wide variety of cultural centers, places of worship, schools and social clubs.

The Mattatuck Museum Arts & History Center collects, studies, preserves, and exhibits American art and history. The Museum is unique because it focuses on the work of painters and sculptors who were born or based in Connecticut with a collection spanning the Eighteenth, Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. The Museum promotes an understanding of our history by providing vision and leadership for our future through educational outreach.

The museum also emphasizes the cultural and commercial achievements of Waterbury. These include a collection of 15,000 buttons, which was donated to the museum by the Waterbury Button Company.

The Mattatuck Drum Band, was founded in 1767 and is the oldest continuing active musical organization in America.

Many affordable housing opportunities exist. There is a wide selection of single-family homes, condominiums and apartments to meet diverse needs and tastes. Many neighborhoods are graced with historic parks. Rounding out the city’s lifestyle offerings are two municipal golf courses, a private golf course, a municipal stadium, museums, movie houses and delightful shopping districts, including the Brass Mill Center Mall.

The city’s residents take full advantage of Connecticut’s many initiatives in public education. Waterbury’s school system is comprised of inter-district magnet schools, charter schools, a vocational high school as well as traditional neighborhood schools. Magnet school offerings are quite varied including a school with an elementary school program with Japanese language instruction, a performing arts focus near the Palace Theater, and the award -winning Rotella Interdistrict Magnet School for integrated arts.

For higher education, Waterbury is also home to the University of Connecticut Waterbury Branch, Post University and Naugatuck Valley Community College. Many other Connecticut universities and colleges also offer ancillary programs in the city.

Waterbury lies 33 miles southwest of Hartford and 77 miles northeast of New York City. The city is located along Interstate 84 and has a Metro North railroad station.

The combination of Waterbury’s architectural beauty, ethnic communities, affordable housing and culture making it one of Connecticut’s best cities for your home and family.

Creating Community Discourse – Moving From Debate to Dialogue

Posted on May 29, 2018 in Uncategorized

  • Building a new bandstand that is handicapped accessible
  • Locating a new homeless shelter
  • Developing plans for rural land use
  • Widening a street to allow for more bicycle traffic
  • Creating a new governance charter for a municipality
  • Constructing a new school and/or renovating an existing one
  • Determining whether or not a proposed construction project fits within the architectural character of the neighborhood

What do all these community projects have in common? Each one is undertaken with the intent to create a better future and expanded opportunities for the given community, and each one will face challenges to moving forward successfully. Undoubtedly, there will be someone for each of these projects who will raise questions and concerns about the appropriateness and/or intent of the project. It is at this point that progress is typically stymied.

We often hear that the whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts, so why is it that we struggle so hard in our communities to move forward? Shouldn’t we be able to reap the benefit of so many creative minds coming together to solve a problem? What is it that prevents us from moving forward constructively?

For starters, most of us are held hostage to a traditional, linear approach to problem solving – the idea that there is one right solution. Often a well-intentioned board or committee has toiled diligently to come up with such a solution. That “solution” is then presented to the public for feedback, and, more often than not, the public perceives it as a done deal. As a result, they fight back. The whole situation deteriorates into a win-lose debate or sometimes a lose-lose debate. As Meg Wheatley so succinctly put it in Leadership and the New Science, “People support what they create… No one is successful if they merely present a plan in finished form to others. It doesn’t matter how brilliant or correct the plan is. It simply doesn’t work to ask people to sign on when they haven’t been involved in the planning process.”

To be sure, involving community members in the planning process can be both frustrating and intimidating. Most of the people we want at the table often don’t show up for a variety of reasons; those who do are often the same faces we see over and over again. I have heard many a board lament the fact that no one attends board meetings to provide public comment, and yet they continue to engage with the public is the same old way. What we need is to strike a balance between encouraging public participation and taking civic responsibility more seriously, and we need to do it more creatively.

Rather than using approaches that create debate, communities need to focus on fostering dialogue. Techniques such as Café Conversations, Study Circles, Open Space Technology, Future Search Conference, and Appreciative Inquiry are just a few of the methods designed to create space for dialogue in communities. The National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation can provide a comprehensive list of these techniques. The technique, however, is less important than the environment. Each of these techniques has the following characteristics in common:

Using inquiry rather than advocacy: The most effective method for creating productive and constructive dialogue is to ask about another’s perspective before explaining your own. Most of us are accustomed to entering into a discussion with our defenses securely in place. What this means is that we often do not hear what others are saying. By balancing advocacy with inquiry, we take as much time to understand the points of view of others as we do in explaining our own point of view.

Testing assumptions: Assumptions about people’s intent or what is going on often create reinforcing patterns of behavior that can hinder us from reaching the most effective solutions. In fact, they can be downright destructive. When people engage in dialogue that puts a human face on the issue, it becomes easier to recognize our assumptions and challenge them. In doing so, we begin to shift our thinking. Even the slightest shift opens up new possibilities, avoiding the “one perfect solution” trap.

Looking for common ground: Many of the issues communities deal with are highly emotional, so finding areas of agreement are critical to keeping a sense of forward progress. At times when it seems like there is a giant chasm between perspectives, the common ground that can be established becomes a ray of hope and the foundation upon which to build a sustainable solution. As the thinking begins to shift, the size of the common ground grows. It is critical to focus on agreements rather than on disagreements.

Focusing on outcomes: Success in any community dialogue effort means committing the time and resources to developing a sustainable solution, not an easy task in today’s climate. It is all too easy to jump to the quick fix without clearly defining long term outcomes. However, communities must resist that sense of urgency and place their emphasis on the integrity of the process.

Is this an easy task? No. Does it take a lot of time and effort? Yes. Is it worth it? The community will have to answer that question. It appears, however, that the current approaches are taking their toll, so why not try something new? A community’s ability to focus on the long-term and to engage their citizens in a constructive, open, and respectful process will enable them to reap benefits for years to come. Now that’s a balancing act worth achieving!


Clog Dancing – Offering High-Levels of Attitude, Energy, Exercise, and Fun

Posted on May 23, 2018 in Uncategorized

Have you ever wanted to do something excitingly challenging to you, while knowing it’s good for you and won’t require lots of boring work from you. Then, that something is clog dancing, also called clogging. You can do it solo, with a partner, or within a group. All three ways are fun, fun, fun. Also, if you join an organized clogging group, you’ll find yourself having a new set friends while becoming more acceptable to yourself and your peers. Since clogging groups are special in their own way, you will be, too.

What is clogging?

Several sources describe the American form of clogging as hillbilly-tapping or foot-stomping folk dancing, where the dancer makes musically synchronized sounds with his/her feet. In the past, it was done to mountain and bluegrass music with high-kicking leg movements combined with foot shuffling, stomping, and tapping. Nowadays, it’s done to many kinds of music the same way. Kids and teenagers generally do it at high speed, faster and more precise than adults.

Where did clogging come from?

Clogging dates back to the 16th-Century-or-prior European folk dances and jigs. It’s been traced to the dances done by the Scotch-Irish steppers, Dutch cloggers (done in wooden shoes or in soft shoes having wooden soles), Euro-Russian gypsies, and English-French-German folk-dancers. In this continent, it evolved into its own early style through the immigrants who settled in Canada, the Appalachian Mountains, and the hill regions of the South. Among all the early settlers who liked to stomp and dance were the Native Americans, frontiersmen, African Americans, cowboys, farmers, ranchers, and the backwoods, hill-abiding, and small-town folks. All of these regional sects have influenced the clogging styles in one way or another at one time or another. Today, it’s being shaped further through contemporary clogging groups, and through the various kinds of modern music in addition to the traditional ones.

How is clogging taught or done?

Generally, clogging is learned in groups under an instructor who carefully teaches its terminology and step-routines, and who makes sure it’s done to the time of the music. However, if no such group is nearby, instructional videos and DVD’s can be found in a few dance shops and on the Internet.

Briefly, the basic clog step is a double-toe tap done with one of your feet, followed by stepping on the balls of each foot. First, starting with your left foot, brush your toe forward and then backward, tap-tap, and then step on the same foot (ball). Immediately following that left tap-tap-ball movement, step onto your right ball, and then step back onto your left one, once more. That’s it, the basic step, left-toe-tap-forward, left-toe-tap-backward, left-step-ball, right-step-ball, left-step-ball.

Now, repeat this step movement starting with your right foot, and then again with your left one, alternately. Once you have learned to repeat this step continuously in a light-footed manner, you will be able to do the slight variations it easily. As your balance and knee-bending capabilities increase, you’ll move into longer and slightly varied routines based on these steps. Additionally, you’ll be able to do them solo, with a partner, or within a group as in line dancing or as a team. You can also develop your own solo freestyle routines.

Note: the initial double-toe tap of the basic step can also be done as a heel-toe tap as it’s sometimes done in certain parts of the country. The basic movement is same as above, except the initial toe-tap is replaced with a heel-tap, as heel-tap-forward, toe-tap-backward, step-ball, step-ball, step-ball and so forth.

Where is it done?

Clogging can be learned or done anywhere, out in the country, or in the villages, towns, and cities, usually on a fairly hard surface. Today, organized clogging is done mostly within local clogging groups under the leaderships of certified instructors. These groups meet and practice in schools, gymnasiums, churches, civic centers, ballrooms, garages, or homes large enough to accommodate them. Membership includes all ages and types, both adults and youngsters. These groups often have members who compete regularly at regional clogging events in addition to their having leisurely in-group fun. Many of the competitive dancers are young people, who can learn it easily, and do it fast.

Because these groups are generally nonprofit and semi-private, only a few of them are listed in the yellow pages. Still, clogging groups exist everywhere in North America, similar to the way square-dance clubs do. If you have a square-dance club nearby, chances are they can point you toward a clogging group. Some clogging groups can also be found on the Internet.

Additionally, in the regions where clogging has been done routinely for decades, the local cloggers might get together spontaneously without much organization. These cloggers will show up at local parks, community events, or county fairs, where small portable wooden clogging floors and recorded music are available to them and anyone else who wants to try it. A fiddler, guitarist, or banjo player might show up there, too.

How is clogging organized?

Modern clogging groups are organized under nonprofit federations. That is, each group operates under its own bylaws and the general provisions of a state board or council. The state board or council might sponsor annual workshops for the local chartered groups to attend. Such workshops offer expert clogging instruction, demonstrations, competitions, and entertainment, like, performances, games, or parties of sorts. They’ll also provide displays of recent music, cue sheets, equipment sources, and other clogging information.

What does it cost?

Generally, group members pay annual dues to keep the group solvent, about $20-50. The dues cover the cost of rental space, member insurance, and a newsletter. For guest beginners, the only cost is for the instruction, $10-50, for about 10 weeks of classes, one-to-two nights a week. If you decide to go further into clogging after graduating, you’ll need leather clogging shoes with “jingle” (double-action) taps attached to them, $35-70. The dues and shoes are the main costs. Normally, the dress codes are casual, T-shirts and jeans or shorts, for weekly lessons or practice sessions. You won’t need special clothing unless you decide to perform competitively with the group, or to perform with them entertainingly for local charities, senior centers, conventions, and festivals. Even so, the outfits often are homemade.

What else?

Clogging groups are family friendly and socially fun. Because children are included in them, these groups maintain high behavior standards for its membership. They hold many get-togethers, potlucks, holiday parties, and fun times for everyone. Yet, some groups are setup for the grownups or for youth only. This condition occurs for the older grownups whose kids have left home, or for the youth who travel frequently to many competitions. Still other groups might be subdivided into both grownups and youth for training purposes. This kind of organization means participation of some kind of is available to almost everyone there. So, if you are looking for a clean, fun way to burn off your energy, and to gain some of it back with other benefits at the same time, try clog dancing. Your fancy footwork will glide you gracefully over the floor, faster and more uniquely than most folks can.