In 1964, seven independent schools started supplemental summer and winter tutoring programs for educationally disadvantaged, public school students. SPHERE, lnc—the Supplemental Program for Hartford in Educational Reinforcement and Enrichment—grew to include twelve independent schools and colleges sponsoring remedial and enrichment programs.
SPHERE commitments were:
1. to public-private cooperation in supplementary education, reinforcement, and enrichment;
2. to serving the neediest in the public schools;
3. to “bridge” city/suburb, class/race, and public/independent education.
Membership expanded during the 1970s and programs diversified with more than 1000 children being served annually. SPHERE received Validation in1973 from the United States Office of Education, one of the first 100 programs recognized as exemplary.
In the mid-1980s, public funding was eliminated and this forced all but three summer programs to close. The organization has existed through annual dues paid by member schools, and the current mission of SPHERE is to strengthen member schools in their efforts to create, sustain, and enhance culturally diverse and inclusive communities for teaching and learning.
To this end, member schools:
• seek to achieve diversity in faculties, staff, and student bodies
• create within each school and among schools, public and private, a climate of respect for differences
• encourage multicultural perspectives in curricular and extracurricular programs
• develop meaningful partnerships with schools and organizations serving the diverse populations in our region
SPHERE coordinates programs that bring students and faculty together from all member schools. Admissions, outreach to local communities, professional development for faculty, faculty of color recruitment and support, and human relations programs work to enhance the quality of campus life for all faculty and students. This work impacts over 1,000 students and faculty on an annual basis. Specific annual events include professional development workshops for faculty, a spring hiring fair for member schools, socials and meetings that bring students from member schools together to examine issues of cultural diversity, and an extensive opening-of-year meeting for faculty from member schools.
The independent schools that comprise the SPHERE consortium constantly strive to provide students with a well-balanced and multicultural curriculum, a diverse social community, a variety of extracurricular and intra-school experiences, and a view of the world that will allow them to grow into responsible members of a global community. Our commitment is to recruit students, faculty, and administrators of color to our schools and to facilitate efforts and programs that enhance and broaden the quality of life for all students.