Coast Guard Signs Partnership Agreement with New London Schools

by Braxton Taylor

NEW LONDON — Two superintendents were on hand Monday to sign a new agreement intended to strengthen a partnership between the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and New London Public Schools.

New London School Superintendent Cynthia Ritchie and Rear Adm. Michael J. Johnston, 43rd superintendent of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, said the new memorandum of understanding will lead to an increased number of Coast Guard personnel ― cadets, staff and faculty ― serving in volunteer roles in the schools where they serve as mentors and tutors and help lay the groundwork for future collaborations.

The initiative is part of the Coast Guard’s long running Partnership in Education program, in which Coast Guard personnel around the country form partnerships with school districts in the areas they call home.

“Students latch on to mentors that inspire them and that can bring them into new directions they may not have experienced before,” Ritchie said. “We are more than thrilled and honored to have this support that really crystallizes the work we know we’re going to continue together.”

Ritchie said Monday’s signing, during a short afternoon press event at the Coast Guard Academy, was a celebration of work already underway. Officers from U.S. Coast Guard Research and Development Center have visited the schools and are providing expertise and technical support to the school’s robotics team. She said the district plans to further tap the Coast Guard’s resources for future collaborations in the classrooms, laboratories and on the sports fields. There is also a planned educational partnership when the National Coast Guard Museum is completed.

Johnston said the Coast Guard cadets can provide students with a new opportunity for character development and a sense of civic pride.

“To students, I hope they see what I saw when I was in high school,” Johnston said. “That’s a young coastie showing up with energy and really showing us an opportunity, an opportunity that I did not know existed, assistance and support for challenges of the day but more importantly an example of how to give back and make a positive impact on those around you.”

“I hope that together we can set a new standard for what is possible when communities unite for a common goal,” Johnston said.

U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D- 2nd District, who joined New London Mayor Michael Passero at Monday’s ceremonial signing, called Ritchie a “transformational superintendent, willing to innovate, experiment and capitalize on opportunities,” to the benefit of students in the district.

The Coast Guard, Courtney said, has historically shown a commitment to the region through its volunteer work in the community. Johnston, Courtney said, is embracing that civic duty mindset by codifying the agreement with the school district.

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