Both Rice and Jericho President Carrie Amos emphasized how difficult it has been to sustain the school financially over the last 10 years, especially in hiring staff in a place with a high cost of living. They had support in the early years from the superintendent of Danbury Public Schools, Sal Pascarella, who served on the Pathways Academy board for three years, offering the fledgling school advice and help in finding the right government contacts for things like certification.
“I saw another venue for helping students in a way my schools could not,” said Pascarella. “They needed more structure, smaller communities.” Pascarella has made sure his at-risk students know about the Pathways programs too. He still stops by regularly, and said the school can contact him whenever it needs assistance.
“When you do well here, you do well everywhere,” said Rice, who remembers one boy whose dad was in prison and whose mom worked the graveyard shift at the hospital. The boy would get his toddler sister ready every morning, and then come to school. He never missed a day, according to Rice. The boy recently graduated from college. (As Rice told this story, someone came to the lobby with news: Another Pathways graduate had just gotten a full lacrosse scholarship to attend a college in New Hampshire.)
If the Pathways boys make honor roll, they can wear a special hoodie over their uniforms in a color of their choosing, with an honor roll patch on the arm. Boys in teal, brown, and yellow hoodies dotted the classrooms. “We want these boys to do academics well,” said Amos. “But are they men of honor? Are they breaking the cycles of poverty and addiction? … We’re not the prep school.”