Westminster Crossroads Learning Program

In 2002, Westminster School allowed faculty member Todd Eckerson to create a nonprofit (501c3) organization known then as the Crossroads Cooperative Learning Program (CCLP). In essence, Eckerson became a loaned administrator to this startup whose early goal was to help Hartford Public High School improve its graduation rate.
Roughly 10 years later Westminster brought Crossroads “in from the cold” and made it an official part of the Westminster program (with the qualifying provision that it remains responsible for raising the money it needs to run its outreach efforts). This new incarnation of the original organization was renamed the Westminster Crossroads Learning Program in Hartford (WCLP).
WCLP’s goals are embodied in its mission statement:
The Westminster Crossroads Learning Program in Hartford (WCLP) represents Westminster’s effort to expand its commitment to the common good by extending its core value of community into the Hartford public schools and beyond. Further, WCLP seeks to provide Westminster with ongoing partnerships that reveal the essential perspective of Hartford’s residents, especially its young people. Ultimately, WCLP seeks broad kinship.

Programs and Initiatives

List of 6 items.

  • Bridge to Hartford

    Over the years, Crossroads has worked to help place students from Hartford-area public schools into independent schools, mostly, but not exclusively, for postgraduate years.
    On the Hartford side, Crossroads has worked with students from Hartford Public High School, Weaver High School, Bulkeley High School, Windsor High School, and New Britain High School. Crossroads has also worked with a number of students from outside the Hartford area.
    On the independent school side, Crossroads has helped place students at Cheshire Academy; Hyde School, Bath, Maine; Hyde School, Woodstock, Connecticut; Kent School; The Gunnery, Loomis Chaffee School; Salisbury School; Suffield Academy; Westminster School; and Wilbraham & Monson Academy.
  • Civic Engagement Course

    A large part of WCLP’s educational initiative within the Westminster curriculum is Civic Engagement — a required course for the Fourth Form.
    Actually, Civic Engagement consists of two courses: 1) Civic Engagement and Civil Discourse, which meets during the fall trimester, 2) Speech Writing and Public Speaking, which meets during the winter trimester.
    The course Civic Engagement and Civil Discourse exists for three reasons.
    First, through a carefully selected series of lessons, Civic Engagement seeks to help Westminster students better understand who they are and for what they stand.
    Second, Westminster School feels strongly it has an obligation to teach its students, explicitly and intentionally, that they have an obligation to engage in their community.
    Third, learning to engage in civil discourse is the gateway through which one engages in one’s community — one must learn to listen, one must learn to consider opposing views, one must learn to honor the conventions of courtesy and respect.
    The Speech Writing and Public Speaking course exists for three reasons.
    First, being trained in public speaking is an important means by which one can contribute to one’s community — a springboard from which one can contribute to a positive public discourse.[1]
    Second, through a carefully selected series of lessons, the Speech Writing and Public Speaking course at Westminster aims to familiarize students with the fundamentals of composing and presenting a speech.
    Third, the Speech Writing and Public Speaking course seeks to provide Westminster students with the actual experience of preparing and delivering a speech. Further, this process involves asking each student to participate in a public speaking contest. This contest both revives an old Westminster tradition and thus affirms the idea that public speaking is a fundamental tenet of the educational process.

    [1] Dan O’Hair, Rob Stewart, Hannah Rubenstein, “Ch. 18: The Voice in Delivery,” A Speaker’s Guidebook: Text and Reference. Sixth Edition. (New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2015.), p. 65.
  • Loaves and Fishes

    On the second Thursday of each month during the calendar year, Westminster, through WCLP, commits to serving lunch at Loaves and Fishes soup kitchen in Hartford. This initiative draws an eclectic combination of participants from the Westminster community, including students, faculty, spouses, retired faculty, parents, alumni, etc. Westminster students are excused from classes but not from work. There is usually a long waiting list for the students.
  • School-Year After-School

    During the 2013-2014 academic year, WCLP committed itself to tutoring at both Jumoke Academy and Hartford Public High School (HPHS). A total of about 10 Westminster students participated at Jumoke while WCLP engaged the services of both a retired faculty member and a Westminster parent at HPHS.
    In 2014-2015, WCLP sent representatives to both Covenant Prep and HPHS in the fall and then to Covenant Prep and Jumoke Academy during both the winter and the spring. That spring, WCLP also conducted a SAT Prep class at the Academy of Engineering and Technology at HPHS.
    In 2015-2016, WCLP sends student volunteers to Covenant Prep on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and The Hartford Pre-K Magnet School on Wednesdays.
    During the winter and spring of 2016 — 2017, WCLP sent student tutors to work at Covenant Preparatory School and Grace Academy, both in Hartford.
  • Spring Break in Hartford

    WCLP’s Spring Break in Hartford bills itself as “an alternative to going someplace warm and doing something fun.” Assistant Director Mary Eckerson has engaged a number of service projects at organizations like the Hartford Artisans Weaving Center, Loaves and Fishes, and Ebony Horsewomen. Students also volunteer their time tutoring at various partner schools in Hartford.
  • The Summer Academy at Westminster School (SAWS)

    During the summer of 2015 Westminster School opened its campus, primarily Armour Academic Center, to Covenant Preparatory School (CPS) — an all-boys, tuition-free, private middle school (grades 5 through 8) in Hartford created to make available opportunities “for young men from families with limited resources.”  WCLP supports and supplements CPS’s required summer educational program with members of the Westminster community in the form of teachers, student teaching assistants, and student volunteers.  SAWS began its third summer in 2017.

Generous Support

WCLP is made possible through the generous support of numerous Westminster alumni and parents, other individuals, foundations, and institutions. Their generosity enables WCLP to open new doors of opportunity for many young people in Hartford.

For more information
To learn more about the Westminster Crossroads Learning Program or to support its work, please contact Todd Eckerson.

Meet the Staff

List of 2 members.

  • Todd Eckerson 

    Director, Westminster Crossroads Learning Program in Hartford (WCLP)
    (860) 408-3048
    Swan Award 1993
    CAIS Award 2006
    Swayze Award 2010
    O’Brien Award 2013
    Williams College - B.A.
    Wesleyan University - M.A.L.S.
    Wesleyan University - C.A.S.
    Year Appointed 1982
  • Mary Eckerson 

    Associate Director, Westminster Crossroads Learning Program in Hartford (WCLP)
    Wesleyan University - M.A.L.S.
    Molloy College - B.A.
    Year Appointed 2014

Westminster School

995 Hopmeadow Street, Simsbury, CT 06070
(860) 408-3000
Westminster School is a private, coeducational boarding and day school for students in grades 9-12 and Postgraduate, located in Simsbury, Connecticut. The suburban New England campus is midway between New York City and Boston. In keeping with our support for a diverse community, Westminster abides by all applicable federal and state laws and does not discriminate on the basis of any protected characteristic, including race, color, religious creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, ancestry and/or disability.

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