College, career forum aims to help parents, students plan for success

A question that many educators are used to hearing from students is, “How will I use this in the real world?”

Next Wednesday, Superintendent Gary Cialfi’s College & Career Readiness for Success Forum will answer that question, and help students and parents plan an educational path, taking advantage of programs offered at Trumbull schools.

The forum, sponsored by the Board of Education, the Trumbull Business-Education Initiative (BEI) and the ACE (Academic Challenge for Excellence) Foundation, is Jan. 21 at 7 p.m. at Trumbull High School. It will include college representatives, employers, educators, and Trumbull High graduates to discuss the skills students need. The forum will also give parents and students a chance to ask questions. Attendees are asked to RSVP by Tuesday, Jan. 20, at

“There has been a lot of thought about making sure we do whatever we can for students, parents and the community to understand the relevance of what students are learning in middle school and high school,” Dr. Cialfi said. “The best way for them to do that is to hear from educators and someone representing the workforce arena.”

Dr. Donald Gibson, dean of the Dolan School of Business at Fairfield University, will address expectations, along with attorney Tom Tesoro, a human resources officer at Standard Motor Products.

Later in the forum, Trumbull educators will address the programs available that will help students learn those skills. Trumbull graduates, one in college and one in a professional career, will also join the forum.

“I think the commonality is all of them would say that to be successful you must have had experience with critical thinking and creative thinking, innovative problem solving and being a strong communicator,” Cialfi said.

Dan Neumann, executive director of the Trumbull BEI and part of the ACE Foundation, will be the forum’s audience moderator. Neumann said the forum supports the goals of both ACE and BEI.

“We aim to help students apply themselves competitively beyond the classroom,” Neumann said of ACE, which supports programs like Mock Trial and We the People. “Let’s face it, a lot of kids are very competitive, and these programs bring out capabilities and potential in themselves that they didn’t recognize before.”

The forum can be particularly beneficial for middle school families and high school underclassman, as it can give them an idea of what programs they may want to try.

Neumann and Cialfi agree that giving students real-world experience, like job shadowing, helps them find out what they like or don’t like.

“You may hear a senior say, ‘Gosh, if only I had known sooner that I couldn’t stand the sight of blood. I don’t think I want to go into medicine,’” Neumann said. “We are trying to save some of that grief.”

Cialfi said students shouldn’t feel they have to choose a career path or college major yet, but they should know the opportunities available and what would be required of them to pursue a college or career path.

“One of our science teachers has said, more than once, that he hears students say, ‘I do the work and want to be a good student, but will I ever use this stuff?’” Cialfi said. “He brings in an engineer to give examples of how those skills are used. Those questions are often best answered by someone out in the real world.”

The readiness forum is scheduled for next Wednesday, Jan. 21, with a snow date of Jan. 22. More information is available at