Domus operates three schools serving 350 Connecticut students who need a different educational environment to overcome barriers to learning and achieve success. Hear from staff and students about our approach and why it works.

STAMFORD ACADEMY 12TH GRADER “Steve”

(NOT HIS REAL NAME)

Steve is an example of a student who grew tremendously during just one school year. Steve started off his senior year at Stamford Academy with an NWEA (Northwest Educational Assessment) reading score of 191, which is equivalent to a 2.9 grade level. He struggled with learning disabilities and dyslexia as well as family financial and heath difficulties. These challenges made it difficult to succeed in previous educational institutions. At Stamford Academy, he worked on vocabulary, phonics, reading comprehension, and writing throughout the year. In past years, Steve had struggled to verbally explain his thoughts and frustrations about reading. Steve’s NWEA reading score at the end of the year was 215, which is equivalent to a 6.9 grade level. His growth of four grade levels in one school year was a result of the work of many professionals who never gave up on him: the Stamford Academy reading teacher, all his classroom teachers, and his special education teacher. Steve is extremely proud of his work and graduated Stamford Academy with new skills so he can achieve his life goals.


Lion’s Den after-school STUDENT “Susan”

(NOT Her REAL NAME)

Susan’s mother died when she was in 6th grade. At school, she was quiet and closed off. She attended Lion’s Den every day but didn’t participate in many of the program’s activities. Gradually, she began to trust the Lion’s Den staff and, by 7th grade, she started joining activities and eventually signed up for many more activities—cheerleading, knitting, walking club, cooking, Alvin Ailey dancing and the step team. She also developed more confidence and became the team captain of the step team in 8th grade. Additionally, her academics gradually improved over this time period and she graduated last June as an honor roll student and was selected by the entire faculty as “Lion of the Year,” an award given to the student who best exemplifies and embodies the values of Trailblazers. She was accepted into a competitive academic-based summer program and passed the assessments necessary to enroll at Wright Tech. She is now a freshman, and while she never played volleyball, she tried out for the team and made it. We’re proud of Susan and the confidence she gained in Lion’s Den; we know her time at Lion’s Den will propel her to succeed at new things.


Work and Learn Youth “CHERYL”

(NOT HER REAL NAME)

Cheryl (not her real name) lived in a shelter in Norwalk when she came to train in our culinary program. She was shy to the point of almost being nonverbal but loved to cook and enjoyed her time in our kitchen. Around the time she completed our culinary program, she was placed with a foster family, and when she returned to our bicycle repair shop, she rebuilt a donated bicycle that she then used to commute from Norwalk to the Work and Learn. She began to trust in our staff, believe in herself, and open up—becoming talkative and independent. We brought her back for a third cycle, this time as a student leader in our culinary program, where she instructed other youth in food preparation skills. Through this experience—and in no small part because of the independence she gained by riding the bike she built to and from our program—she matured into a young woman. She stays in regular contact with us, and so we know that: She has transferred to a comprehensive high school, where she is getting good grades. She found a part-time after-school job in a high-end retail store. And she was adopted by her loving foster mother.


A Film on Teen Violence By Students from The Stamford Academy