With the snip of the scissors, a new world of educational opportunity opened for students, families and educators in western Connecticut at WorkspaceCT in Bethel on Monday, June 7.
WorkspaceCT is a collaborative space owned and operated by Trumbull-based Cooperative Educational Services and Litchfield-based EdAdvance and leaders from both agencies — CES Executive Director Dr. Charles Dumais and EdAdvance Associate Executive Director Jonathan Costa — both welcomed the public to take advantage of the versatile facility at 16 Trowbridge Drive in Bethel. The ribbon-cutting ceremony was attended by school and community leaders from area towns and districts.
CES Executive Director Dr. Charles Dumais (center) prepares to cut the ribbon to officially open WorkspaceCT in Bethel. He is joined by leaders from CES, EdAdvance and local communities and school districts.
The goal of the partnership is to offer the building as a unique setting to enhance learning and create educational opportunities, which is a large part of the agencies’ mission. CES and EdAdvance are two of the six Regional Educational Service Centers created by the state legislature more than 50 years ago to provide public school districts in their respective areas with supports and services.
“We want the schools in western Connecticut and the experience in western Connecticut and the learning in western Connecticut to be better. That’s what this place is for,” Dumais said during remarks before cutting the ribbon.
CES and EdAdvance recently acquired the 32,000-square-foot building and 5 acres from Workspace, which provided families room to home-school their children. The former Cannondale bicycle factory resembles a large, red barn and offers rooms fully furnished for a wide variety of educational opportunities and purposes. WorkspaceCT has rooms for math, coding and virtual-reality gaming; studios and theater space for creative movement, music, screening, and recording; a science research lab; full commercial kitchen; woodworking workshop; conference center; and a co-working space filled with desks.
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 partnership between CES and EdAdvance is a unique step for the state’s six Regional Educational Service Centers.
The RESCs “have always worked to serve their own families and students and school districts, and worked informally together when opportunities created themselves,” Costa said. “This is really the first time that two RESCs joined together in a formal, collaborative relationship to increase the capacity of both organizations to fulfill their mission.”
“This represents a tremendous step forward in what can happen, which is what today is about,” Dumais said. “It’s about the difference in what we say about schools and education and learning and collaboration and partnerships … and what we do. Today is the beginning of doing a better job of serving communities.”
A series of open houses will be held in July so community members can tour the facility. The open houses are July 7 and 28 from 9-11 a.m. and July 8 and 27 from 1-3 p.m.
To learn more about WorkspaceCT, visit www.workspacect.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn about the two RESCs operating the facility, visit www.cestrumbull.org and www.edadvance.org. Information about all of the RESCs can be found at www.rescalliance.org.