U.S. Education Secretary John King Jr. made a stop in New Haven Monday as he wraps up his "Opportunity Across America" tour.
King visited Wilbur Cross High School, one of the district’s largest schools, to praise programs that track, identify, and address the needs of at-risk youth.
During a roundtable discussion, King heard from elected officials, school administrators, and teachers.
But the most compelling success stories came from participating students like Jahi Brooks. He’s a senior who was identified as an at-risk youth.
"I got placed at Yale Hospital as a student intern and I started seeing a lot of successful people in the same room as me," said Brooks. "It helped me really get my act together and now I’m an honor student and I feel like this is what I needed."
It was a scenario Secretary King could relate to as he talked about his own experience growing up in Brooklyn and losing both parents at a young age. He said if it hadn’t been for his teachers in the New York City public schools, he wouldn’t be alive today.
"I always say I’m the first secretary of education to have been kicked out of high school, but I hope that I’m not the last," King said. "I’d experienced trauma as a child and my actions reflected that. I needed to see consequences, but more than that I needed support from adults who were willing to give me a second chance and to help me process the things I’d experienced."
Governor Dannel Malloy, along with other state and local officials, joined the discussion. Malloy said the graduation rate in Connecticut is the highest in state history and there are more black and Hispanic youth taking Advanced Placement courses than at any time in history.