Gracie Phillips

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The Steppingstone Academy Hartford (SAH) is an academically rigorous after-school preparatory program for 6-8th grade students from the Hartford area. The goal of SAH is to prepare students for the transition and rigors of independent secondary school. There are many challenges that SAH Scholars might face, such as tokenism or social isolation, as racial and economic-class minorities in the predominantly white, upper class environment of independent schools. After a review of the pre-existing literature on this topic, a mentoring program was identified as a feasible additional support system to help mitigate the above challenges. Based on this result, three different groups were consulted to explore further the challenges faced by SAH scholars and the possible features of a mentoring program. These groups were: independent school Deans and Directors, SAH Scholars currently enrolled in independent school, and administrators at a number of preparatory programs at the middle school level deemed “successful” by the SAH Dean of Programs. The analyzed responses aided in formulating a comprehensive study of the Steppingstone students’ experience in independent school, in addition to suggestions for the implementation of a mentoring program.


Community Partner: Steppingstone Academy Hartford