Students in Bethel and surrounding communities have more learning opportunities with the opening of WorkspaceCT, a joint venture between two of the state’s Regional Educational Service Centers (RESCs).
Cooperative Educational Services, which serves Fairfield County, and EdAdvance, which serves Litchfield County, have purchased property at 16 Trowbridge Drive in Bethel that was previously used for families who home-school their children. The 5-acre site features a former factory that resembles a large, red barn and offers 32,000 square feet of rooms fully furnished for a wide variety of educational opportunities and purposes.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the partnership will be held Monday, June 7, at 5 p.m. Executive directors from both agencies — Dr. Charles Dumais from CES and Dr. Jeffrey Kitching from EdAdvance — will attend along with other agency and community leaders.
“Dr. Kitching and I were searching for an opportunity to create a collaborative facility that would support the amazing work being done by students, teachers, and school leaders in western Connecticut,” Dr. Dumais said. “WorkspaceCT will serve as a learning hub for educators and families, and is a wonderful example of the cooperative work encouraged and supported by the RESC Alliance and the Connecticut State Department of Education.”
WorkspaceCT’s ready-to-use spaces include a theater with stage; music and recording booths; woodworking shop; virtual reality suite; commercial kitchen; costume shop; makerspace; labs; and multiple areas for studying, reading or meeting. The education agencies will be working with local community members to explore ways to use the space and provide a variety of initiatives to maximize student and adult learning. Outside groups are also encouraged to take advantage of the building.
More information about WorkspaceCT, including photos from throughout the building can be found at www.workspacect.org.
“This facility is designed and equipped to support innovative and creative learning opportunities for students and adults of all ages, backgrounds, and interests,” Dr. Dumais said.
CES and EdAdvance acquired the property after negotiating with the previous owner and Workspace Education Executive Director Catherine Fraise, who designed and developed the facility to offer children and parents involved in home-schooling a variety of innovative spaces to learn and work.
“Catherine Fraise’s desire to ensure the building’s new owners maintained its education purpose and her vision for creative hands-on learning made our RESC partnership the perfect fit as a buyer,” Dr. Kitching said.
The first use of the new co-owned building will be a summer arts camp for middle school students organized by the Regional Center for the Arts, a part-time arts magnet high school operated by CES. Students attending the free camp, “The Curtain Rises: Story of a Show,” in July will learn from experienced teachers about all of the steps of putting on a live production.
The Connecticut legislature created six Regional Educational Service Centers nearly five decades ago to offer services and supports for the state’s public school districts. They are nonprofit, public education agencies that work in partnership with the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) to provide teaching and learning options to educators and students.