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Affordable Housing , Community Development

The Importance of A School in A Neighborhood

1 July 2014

Greg Secord, Director of Resource Development at Mutual Housing Association of Greater Hartford 

Mutual Housing Association of Greater Hartford is in tune with the importance of schools in the communities we serve. When analyzing the reasons people choose to live where they live, the top three priorities are; affordability, is it a safe neighborhood, and is there access to good schools. It is incumbent on us as developers of housing to be engaged in the process of building and retaining quality schools.

Urban planners would be well served to use schools as anchors for all neighborhood development plans. Schools obviously play a key role in successful community redevelopment efforts.

Take one school in Hartford, named for Dominick F. Burns. Dominick F. Burns was an immigrant from Ireland who grew up in Hartford's Frog Hollow neighborhood and worked as a butcher's apprentice before amassing a fortune in the grocery and banking business. His grocery store at 654 Park Street at the corner of Lawrence Street was an anchor for the neighborhood, and he was founder and first president of the Park Street Trust Co at 617 Park Street. Mr. Burns was also a trustee of St. Joseph Cathedral and a Director of St. Francis Hospital and a member of the Knights of Columbus. In January of 1939 Pope Pius XI conferred the title of Knight of the Order of St. Gregory the Great on him.

He and his wife Harriet had two daughters prior to her death in 1925. After his death in 1940 at age 82, the school’s name was changed from the Lawrence School to the Dominick F. Burns School. His grandchildren include Dominick John Dunne and John Gregory Dunne, both well-known writers. Dominick had three children and his son Griffin, an actor, director and producer, is currently involved in what is now Burns Latino Studies Academy.

Today’s Burns plays a very important role in the education process.

Using public schools as hubs, community schools bring together partners who work to achieve these results: Children are ready to enter school; students attend school consistently; students are actively involved in learning and their community; families are increasingly involved with their children's education; schools are engaged with families and communities; students succeed academically; students are healthy - physically, socially, and emotionally; students live and learn in a safe, supportive, and stable environment, and communities are desirable places to live.”


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