Tuesday, September 2, 2014

School year kicks off with district-wide rally

Manchester School of Technology 
student James Manning emceed 
this morning's rally
The first day back to school for teachers is a professional development day, traditionally spent entirely in their own buildings in workshops, staff meetings, and of course, in their classrooms to prepare for students' arrival the next day.

This year, superintendent Debra Livingston wanted to start things off a bit differently, as a whole district. That's how more than 1,500 Manchester teachers, administrators and staff found themselves at the Verizon Wireless Arena – the only location large enough to accommodate such a large group.

Central High School chamber choir 
director Tom Seniow leads his singers
in a performance of the national anthem
Dr. Livingston offered a back-to-school message to all, first acknowledging the dedication and service of those who have taught students for 20 years and longer. She talked about the successes and highlights of the previous year, including the establishment of STEAM Ahead NH for high school students at West, the addition of city-wide full-day kindergarten, and the development of the Manchester Academic Standards.
Joanna Alley, a first-grader at 
Green Acres Elementary School, 
led the Pledge of Allegiance

Still, there is more work to be done. Dr. Livingston assured the teachers that the district is moving in the right direction, and she is confident in their abilities to keep the momentum going with students' best interest at heart.

The audience of teachers also heard from three Manchester students selected by their principals. They shared their educational experiences so far, offer words of inspiration, and even challenge the teachers to think about how they can best help their students succeed in learning.

West High School junior Karina Ithier implored the teachers to trust in their students' abilities and potential, to help them overcome the struggles.
Karina Ithier challenged Manchester
teachers to raise their expectations
and inspire students to believe in

"Every day, you are the ones who encourage us and make us realize that we are getting closer to our dreams, " Karina said. "This is why we need you to push and motivate us, to make us learn, write, analyze and read at greater complexities than we have ever done before."

Abdullah Mahdi, an eighth grader at McLaughlin Middle School, offered his perspective as a student who arrived in New Hampshire with his family from Iraq just 10 months ago. He praised his teachers for helping him adjust to his new life -- and a new language. Abdullah said he has big goals in mind, and he wants to make his parents proud.
Abdullah Mahdi, with his ELL 
teacher, Mrs. Proulx, looking on, 
spoke to the audience

"I want to learn everything there is to know, especially in math," he said in his address. "I want to be an architectural engineer, and it is going to take a lot of knowledge and hard work to get there."

Manchester's elementary students also have a valuable voice when it comes to ideas on what it takes to succeed in school. Webster School's Kathryn Craig, starting fifth grade, had opinions to share.
Kathryn Craig likes the feeling
of achievement she gets when
teachers challenge her

"Not every student tries as hard as he can to learn all the time, and some of us are more ready to learn than others," she said. "But if you get to know each of us, you will find that we want to be challenged. When we accomplish something, it gives us confidence."

Here's to a terrific school year ahead!

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