CT Experiential Learning Center (CELC) MIddle School

CT Experiential Learning Center (CELC) MIddle School Logo

Basic Information

Address: 28 School Street, Branford, CT 06405
Phone Number: 203.433.4658
School Type: Independent Middle School

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CT Experiential Learning Center (CELC) MIddle School
CT Experiential Learning Center (CELC) MIddle School
CT Experiential Learning Center (CELC) MIddle School
CT Experiential Learning Center (CELC) MIddle School

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Additional Information

Founded: 2009
School Setting:

CELC is located in the village of Stony Creek, Connecticut in the Old School House. Our "HQ" address is: 28 School Street, Branford, CT 06405.

School Size: up to 50 students
Classroom Size: between 6 - 12 students
Student/Teacher Ratio: 5:1
Tuition: 20,950.00
Financial Aid:



The academic core of the Connecticut Experiential Learning Center (CELC) program is rigorous in content, diverse in its offerings, and adaptable to the needs and interests of the students. In keeping with the best practices for adolescent learners, considerable attention is given to connecting individual curricular areas to overarching themes. Students explore the essential questions that unite broad areas of knowledge, relate historical concepts and trends to current events and their own experiences, refine their research and writing skills, and have opportunities to work both independently and cooperatively. The traditional disciplines of Math, Science, History and Current Events, and Language Arts are integrated with, and enriched by, curriculum in the areas of Environmental Studies and Leadership Training, Peace Studies, Music, Art, Drama, Cooking, and Service Learning.

In addition to the weekly outings in the local area, CELC travels for an extended programs at least twice per year. Previous academic years included an 8-day sailing experience, touring the Chesapeake Bay aboard the 46′ ketch Boundless; a 5-day biking adventure on the island of Nantucket; a 5-day team building experience at Hulbert Outdoor Center in Fairlee, Vermont. Travels in 2013-14 took us to KROKA Expeditions in Marlow, New Hampshire. October of academic year 2015 – 16 brought CELC to Keewaydin Environmental Education Center in Salisbury, Vermont. For the 2016-17 year-end adventure, CELCers spent a week exploring Washington, D.C. as part of a theme study of ancient to modern civilizations.

Workshops and special events continue to be available for homeschoolers. Parent workshops are also offered throughout the year covering a variety of topics related to adolescent development.

Support Services: personalized attention; supportive learning community
After School Programs: Yes
Computer Capabilities:


School Championships:

Ark Award from Heifer International
CANstruction Community Service Award

School Clubs:

Additional travel opportunities available during school vacations

Notable Graduates:

Evan DeCarlo, author

Parking Spaces/Availability:


Admissions Requirements:

Our goal for admission process is to be sure families are fully informed about our program and for us to have enough information from a family and a student so that we are best able to know whether our program may serve a student’s needs.

Parents are welcome to schedule a visit to observe our learning community in action. Once a family decides it has interest in our program as an option for the child, a visit by the prospective student is required. The purpose of the visit is for us to observe the student and for a student to get to know the program by participating in academic classes as well as a field experience. CELC moves around quite a bit throughout the academic year, and we want to observe how a student responds to activities both in and outside the classroom environment. In order to best place a student at the right level of instruction, we will conduct a math and writing assessment. We also conduct an interview in addition to the general interaction with teachers and classmates throughout the day.

In addition we would like the opportunity to speak with a child’s former and/or current teachers as well as any relevant medical personnel who knows and works with your child. We ask that names and contact information and required release of information be provided for us as soon as possible.

CELC has limited openings, and we would appreciate that the following required materials be sent to us within two-weeks following the student’s final visit day:

• Application questionnaire for parents
• Application questionnaire for student
• Copies of prior school records
• Copies of any and all reports, testing and/or other information pertaining to a child’s

academic and social/emotional history
• Release of information from previous teachers and/or relevant medical personnel and

their specific contact information

Once CELC and a family mutually decide that this learning community is a good fit, a contract will be issued specifying the subjects of instruction, rate per instruction hour/total cost, and payment schedule.

We will notify families of our decision within two weeks of receiving all required documentation. Please let us know if you have any questions along the way. We thank you for your interest and look forward to working with you.


Mission Statement:

To provide positive learning and growing experiences for young adolescents. The intention of the Connecticut Experiential Learning Center (CELC) is to challenge students and nurture their highest potential.  By providing a learning community based in the guiding principles of respect, integrity, responsibility and individual learning, the innate desire of all children to learn, grow, communicate, and create is honored.

Philosophy/Belief Statement:

For all of CELC's subject areas, students receive individualized attention. We work with students where they are and because of our small size, are able to build skill in small steps, providing challenge while balancing frustration levels with opportunities for success in order to achieve continued progress along a continuum.
Students are well prepared for high school because they build a strong foundation, learning organizational skills, getting to know themselves as learners, finding a voice with which to self-advocate. The small size also means that no student goes unnoticed - students are engaged and "on" for the whole day, receiving support, asked to think for themselves, and be a valued member that participates fully within a working learning community.
Real-world learning is a major aspect of CELC's curriculum. Students are able to delve into learning in a hands-on and minds-on way. Students learn to behave as a supportive community, particularly because they are involved in such a variety of environments and experiences.
A real success story, CELC builds resilient and competent students who are ready and eager to take on challenges of high school and beyond, as inquisitive learners and compassionate citizens of the world.
Some of CELC's achievements: 100% acceptance rate into first-choice high schools, students entering high school enroll in Honors and AP classes, receive honors grades or better, have the ability to self-advocate and easily approach and interact with instructors, are curious and ready to ask questions, know how to embrace mistakes as opportunities to learn!
CT Experiential Learning Center (CELC) Middle School of Branford provides an energizing, personalized, and significant middle school experience. Students come from a variety of towns throughout Connecticut, from families looking for a program that engages and deepens learning, where their children thrive during these important and pivotal 5th-8th grade years.

School History:

CELC was founded in 2009 by Melinda Alcosser and Maria Mortali, when another small private school where they had been teaching together for some years abruptly closed. Melinda and Maria were asked (implored!) by their then current parents to find a way to continue with those students. Melinda and Maria (aka M & M) knew the profound and positive impact that this type of small educational environment had on the young adolescent learner and decided to find a way to continue and thus, Connecticut Experiential Learning Center (CELC) was born!

Additional Information:

CELC is designed to make the middle shcool years positive and powerful. Small in size yet lasting in impact, CELC prides itself on teaching children the value of being productive members of the local community and constructive citizens of the world.

For more information, contact mandm@CTExperiential.org 
or call 203.433.4658.

Subscribe to our mailing list to stay informed about upcoming programming.

CT Experiential Learning Center (CELC) is a 501c3 tax-exempt corporation. CELC admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at CELC. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, and other CELC administered programs.

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