Monday, October 1, 2018

Manchester City Library eliminates overdue fines for young learners

Manchester City Library staff and trustees and Mayor Joyce Craig announced all Manchester public libraries will eliminate overdue fines on children’s and young adult collections, starting October 1.

“With this move, we can truly say any child in our community can afford to check out a book at our libraries,” said Mayor Joyce Craig. “The libraries in Manchester are much more than a collection of books — they’re pivotal centers of our community. No child should be unable to engage in learning because of their family’s income level.”

The decision to eliminate overdue fines is part of a growing national trend in library policies to promote reading. Manchester library staff also noticed there was an issue once they held discussions with families who said they hadn’t been to a library in years due to their inability to pay late fees.

“We’ve recently begun working more closely with the Manchester School District, and we realized we needed books to be as accessible as they can be to our children and students,” said Denise van Zanten, Library Director. “Eliminating fines on materials for our young learners will continue to promote early literacy and drive our efforts forward.”

“By eliminating fines on children’s and young adult materials, we are taking down a barrier and opening a door to a critical resource for children and teens so that they can continue to learn and grow,” added Karyn Isleb, Head of Youth Services and Alex Graves, Teen Librarian, Manchester City Library.

This change does not impact any current accounts, but the library will review those on a case by case basis as requested by the borrower/parent/guardian. Library users will still be asked to pay for lost or damaged children and young adult items.

For more information about the Manchester City Library, programs and activities please call (603) 624-6550 or visit

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Governor Recognizes New Hampshire Jobs For America's Graduates for Outstanding Student Outcomes

When New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu today recognized New Hampshire Jobs for America’s Graduates (NH-JAG) for its growth and outstanding student outcomes, he was not just talking numbers.  He was talking people.
While NH-JAG surpassing five of five performance outcomes, including achieving a 100% graduation rate for the Class of 2017, is extremely impressive, it is the youth behind those numbers that represent the true success, according to the Governor.  

NH Governor Chris Sununu, JAG President and CEO Ken 
Smith and NH-JAG in school staff member Amy Darrigo 
at the "5of5" awards celebration. 
Juliette Gonzalez participated in the JAG program at Manchester West High School and went on to obtain her LNA before attending Southern New Hampshire University to study healthcare administration. She is currently employed at Catholic Medical Center and plans to return to school in the future to obtain her Master of Public Health degree.

“This program is making a real difference in the lives of so many New Hampshire youth, not only in school, but in work and life,” said Governor Sununu, in presenting NH-JAG with the “5 of 5” Award for its growth and outstanding student outcomes alongside Jobs for America’s Graduates President & CEO Ken Smith.  The award is the highest National Performance Award from Jobs for America’s Graduates.  NH-JAG has earned the “5 of 5” Award for 12 consecutive years and has successfully served over 17,000 young people.  NH-JAG surpassed established goals in each of five categories, with the Class of 2017 having a 100% graduation rate, a 92% positive outcomes rate, an 81% employment rate, an 87% full-time jobs rate and a 97% full-time placement rate.

During the 2017-18 program year alone, NH-JAG served 190 youth in five high schools – Berlin High School, Manchester Memorial High School, Raymond High School, Winnacunnet High School and Woodsville High School - and 60 out of school participants at two locations in Claremont and Concord.  The goal is to serve even more students moving forward, with the support of public-private partnerships.
NH-JAG Executive Director Janet Arnett was pleased to announce the addition of four new schools to the program this year – Laconia High School, Littleton High School, Manchester School of Technology and Newport High School.  “With new funding from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services and the AT&T Foundation, we are able to expand to 11 programs this year and create new initiatives in project based learning,” said Arnett.  The significant grant provided by AT & T to help grow the program is in keeping with its Aspire Program, which brings together AT&T employees, nonprofits and community members to help equip students with the skills they need to lead the digital, global economy.

NH Governor Chris Sununu, JAG President and CEO Ken Smith, 
NH-JAG Executive Director Janet Arnett, Manchester School District
Superintendent Bolgen Vargas and Manchester School District students
and staff celebrate the award.
Manchester Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bolgen Vargas is thrilled that NH-JAG will be in another Manchester location. "We are proud that the Manchester School of Technology is New Hampshire-JAG's newest program site. The mission of NH-JAG aligns with our school district's goals to prepare students to become career and college ready. At MST, students have direct access to their futures through Career Technical Education opportunities. NH-JAG is a valuable liaison for students as they venture into the world,” he said.

Governor Sununu, a member of the Jobs for America’s Graduates Board of Directors, would like to see NH-JAG serving even more students, and hopes public-private partnerships will be the mechanism to make this happen.  “By working together, we can best leverage dollars to provide students with knowledge and hands on experience in the workforce to help young men and women in New Hampshire stay in school, graduate and go on to succeed in life and become valued citizens,” he said.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Middle School at Parkside gets gift from construction industry: Career Exploration program is poised to serve as state-wide model

Local politicians, school district officials, and educators joined Associated Builders and Contractors of New Hampshire/Vermont (ABC) and its Young Professionals Group as they delivered a $2,000 donation, in addition to commitments from local companies, to help support the Middle School at Parkside’s new careers in construction exploration program.

“We are delighted to deliver this money and industry support to the school,” said Joshua Reap, President of ABC. “And the investment is more than just this check. Our contractors will invest materials to give the students projects and dozens of hours from their skilled workforce to teach the kids what a career in construction looks like.”

“For ABC, this is an investment in our community to create a better tomorrow,” added Reap.

According to ABC research, over 500,000 construction jobs need to be filled across the country. This need led Manchester Board of School Committee member and local construction executive Jimmy Lehoux to push for the creation of a construction careers program.
Jeff Comeau, President Young Professionals Group; Superintendent Bolgen Vargas; State Sen. Lou D’Allesandro; Mayor Joyce Craig; School Board Member Jimmy Lehoux; Teacher Larry Simpson; Joshua Reap, President ABC; Jennifer Landon, Director of Workforce Development, ABC. 
“We are having a tough time finding people that want to work in the skilled trades,” said Jimmy Lehoux. “That being told, as an industry we need to do a better job educating our students at a younger age and also reaching their parents to let them know that a child in construction will be highly skilled working with high-tech tools. If the student choses a career in the trades they will be involved in a well-payed, well respected profession that they can make a great career at.”

Noting that college was often prioritized over traditional vocational careers, Lehoux made connecting students with construction career opportunities a key part of his campaign for school board.

“College is a great option, but it’s not the only one. In construction your employer pays for your education, meaning you can ‘earn while you learn’ without loads of college debt. From my first day on the school board, I have been promoting a 5-point plan to expose our kids to other career opportunities, and with a unanimous vote by the Manchester School Board they agreed.”

“I am pleased that Principal Ransdell and teacher Larry Simpson along with our industry partners saw the value and stepped up to make this program a reality,” added Lehoux.

Where most schools have done away with their shop classes, the Middle School at Parkside has developed a semester-long project-based pilot program to introduce 7th grade students to the skills and career opportunities within the construction trades.

“We turned the wood working class into a focused program where every week the students explore a different career in construction,” said Simpson. “Our local employers saw a need and we responded by creating a partnership. We are thankful for our industry partners because students get to learn from trades people about their profession. I will tell you, the kids were enchanted to learn the guy in a suit, who drives a nice new truck, has a house and the whole package was a plumber. It’s that kind of industry involvement that gets kids to think differently and makes education fun.”

Over the course of the year, every Parkside student will participate in the program. If successful, the program will serve as a template for other schools and sectors of industry.