Danbury moves forward with Portrait of a Graduate


Screenshot by Ray Coletti

The Five Pillars of the Portrait of a Graduate

Pearl Chia, Contributing Writer

A new initiative, Portrait of a Graduate (POG), is officially in motion.

Co-project manager, project contributor, and Danbury High School English teacher Ray Coletti explains Portrait of a Graduate to be the “skills, competencies, and dispositions that we want a graduate of Danbury High School to have.”

This chosen skill set is the result of the collaboration of many – superintendent, directors, teachers, parents, students, etc. – and includes the ability to be lifelong effective and efficient advocators, collaborators, communicators, innovators and learners. This diverse coalition is an endeavor to create a unique POG best suited for the varied population of Danbury. With over 2,350 participants who answered “What skills/qualities do you hope a Danbury Public School’s student has upon graduation?” and around 65 focus groups with approximately over 200 participants in these focus groups, Portrait of a Graduate aims to personalize this vision – that many other schools have begun to adopt – to Danbury’s best interests.

The essence of this project can be condensed into the following:

Vision: Danbury Public Schools aspires to advance all learners to their highest potential.

Mission: Danbury Public Schools, in partnership with families and the community, provides transformational learning experiences, designed to provide thoughtful and prepared graduates.

The first trial of the project is the implementation of the Mastery-based Diploma Assessment that has been made a requirement for 2023 graduates and beyond. Fulfilling one credit, this can be filled through the pilot Capstone project that has been incorporated into the mandatory Civics class. If these are successful, plans may  be made in the future for an individual standing Capstone class that will be connected to graduation requirements.

Currently, the POG website is in the works to be launched to the public, which will occur in the very near future. This project is currently undergoing the process of asset mapping and rubric development, specifically for what Portrait of a Graduate would mean as it pertains to each grade level. Curriculum mapping is in effect to search for opportunities to implement and develop these  ideal skills.

Starting with grades 6-12 to evaluate results, POG will eventually make its way down to kindergarten, if successful. This will help to develop the skills POG focuses on young, making the ideal image of a graduate more easily in reach. As one of the lead facilitators appointed by the district and the Danbury High School Associate Principal for Instruction, Dr. Meghan Martins specifically maps out the rough timeline, explaining that “… this year, it’s [the goal for] 6-12 rubric development and asset mapping. Next year, it’ll be K-5 rubric development and asset mapping, while 6-12 curricular work is being revised.” 

In relation to larger future results, there are hopes to have Portrait of a Graduate as an encouragement for the new Danbury career academy that is being developed. More career orientated, POG perfectly aligns with the career academy goals, as it specifically focuses on future skills students can use in their lives. Though POG and the career academy plans are separate entities, the timing and alignment of these two works in progress is a useful coincidence because POG helps to outline “the things we want to make sure… the things that are important to the Danbury community… [and answer] how are we going to use the career academies to breathe life into some of these things,” Dr. Meghan Martins says.

The Portrait of a Graduate represents the hopes of the skill set and attributes a Danbury student should emulate upon graduation. There are high hopes and expectations for success for this new project that has already begun to, and will continue to, take effect in high schoolers’ lives.