Thursday, July 31, 2014

Ready for Success celebrates with cupcakes and ice cream

After four weeks of hard work, students in the Ready for Success program celebrated their accomplishments with ice cream and mini cupcakes. The students, who are entering kindergarten and first grade at schools across Manchester, attend Ready for Success four days a week from 8:30-11:30 over the last month, working on writing and reading activities to move them toward proficiency. Ready for Success is located at 12 of the Manchester School District's elementary schools, using 21 classrooms for about 260 students.




Cupcakes 101, located at 132 Bedford Center Road in Bedford, has donated more than 300 mini cupcakes each summer for the past three years for students and staff. The shop's owners, Kristen Morgan and Andy Thibodeau, happily start baking the cupcakes at 6:00 am and open their doors early for the dozens of boxes to be picked up and delivered to the schools.

Each year, Hannaford  Supermarket on John E. Divine Drive in Manchester has donated a $25 gift card to help with ice cream costs for 300 students and staff.

"Both of these companies are so generous, and they are always willing to help when we ask," said Ready for Success program coordinator Beth Shea. "We are extremely grateful for their partnerships!"

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Middle school assistant principal vacancies filled

Among the changes in various school administrations this summer, the last two open positions have been filled. Superintendent Debra Livingston has named Jane Clayton assistant principal of Hillside Middle School and Kelly Bilodeau assistant principal of McLaughlin Middle School. Both women come to their new posts from previous positions within Manchester School District.

Clayton served as athletic coordinator for Central High School since 2003 and has previous experience as interim assistant principal at Central and West high schools. She replaces the vacancy left by outgoing assistant principal Julie Machakos and joins assistant principal Shawn Baskerville under Hillside principal Brendan McCafferty.

Bilodeau was a special education case manager for nine years at Southside Middle School, where she collaborated with teachers on curriculum and instruction for students with diverse learning styles. She replaces Tim Otis, who moved to West High School as assistant principal. Bilodeau will join McLaughlin principal Bill Krantz and assistant principal Laila Duffy.  

MSD Blog: new format and features for Manchester School District Announcements

The Manchester School District announcement area has been updated to a new blog format. New features include better search and archive features as well as the ability to subscribe to new announcements via email.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

MSD welcomes two new principals and assistant principal

Superintendent of Schools Debra Livingston conditionally named the next principals of Hallsville Elementary School and Southside Middle School, pending Board of School Committee approval at next month’s scheduled meeting. Christi Michaud, currently a principal in Windham, will assume the top administrative position at Hallsville; Jennifer Gillis comes to Southside from her role as an assistant principal in Goffstown.

Michaud's is a familiar name in the Manchester School District. She was a teacher at Green Acres Elementary School for more than ten years before becoming assistant principal at Golden Brook School in Windham in 2009. She has been that school’s principal since 2012.

“I am excited to return to Manchester for the chance to lead the students and staff of Hallsville in their continued efforts toward high achievement,” said Michaud. “There is so much learning to celebrate, and the commitment to success among everyone in the Hallsville community is undeniable.”

Gillis served as assistant principal at Mountain View Middle School in Goffstown since 2008. She has more than a decade of experience teaching, mentoring, coaching and advocating for students. 

“There are many opportunities in the middle school years to prepare students for the learning and expectations ahead of them,” said Gillis. “I’m looking forward to working with students, family and staff at Southside to reach our common academic and developmental goals.”

Traditionally, new district staff members are hired only after Manchester’s Board of School Committee votes to approve the superintendent’s recommendations. The timing made it necessary for Dr. Livingston to offer the positions to Michaud and Gillis ahead of the August 11 school board meeting so that the new principals can use the rest of the summer to prepare for the school year. 

Webster Elementary School also has a new administrator. Assistant principal Kristen Withee comes to Manchester from teaching fourth grade at Windham Center School in Windham. She has 15 years of elementary experience as a teacher, mentor and instructional leader and will be a valuable addition to the team at Webster led by its principal, Christine Martin.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Call for entries: Constitution Day essay contest

“Constitution Day” is observed in schools each year on September 17 with educational programs about the history and signing of the U.S. Constitution. To help celebrate Constitution Day, eight daily newspapers and the New Hampshire Supreme Court sponsor an annual essay contest for students in grades 5-12 on a topic related to our constitutional rights as citizens. Winning essays are published in the participating newspapers, and winners are invited to a special reception at the state Supreme Court and to the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications First Amendment Awards.

The 2014 essay question and other contest details are available on the New Hampshire Department of Education web site.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Public hearing on Manchester Academic Standards: July 17

Members of the community are invited to a second public hearing to share their concerns and comments about the newly assembled Manchester Academic Standards. The Board of School Committee’s Curriculum and Instruction Committee will be hosting the hearing at Manchester High School West on Thursday, July 17 starting at 6:00 pm.

A committee comprised of teachers, administrators, learning standards experts, curriculum specialists, and higher education professors worked over the previous school year to assemble the standards document as an alternative to implementing the Common Core State Standards. The Manchester Academic Standards committee presented its framework for pre-k through twelfth grade curriculum at the June 9 Board of School Committee, and the presentation is available online.

Community invited to meet finalists for principals positions

Parents, teachers and interested members of the public will have a chance to meet and hear from the final candidates being considered for the top posts at Hallsville Elementary School and Southside Middle School. As it did before selecting two other recently hired principals, Manchester School District will host community forums at each school to introduce the finalists and offer an opportunity for the public to ask questions.

“This is a wonderful way to further involve our families and faculty in the process of choosing the best leaders for our schools,” said school superintendent Dr. Debra Livingston. “It’s also a valuable part of the interview process for the candidates to get to know our  school communities better and hear what is on their minds.”

The first community forum will take place on Tuesday, July 15 at 6:00 pm at Hallsville School, 275 Jewett Street. The forum at Southside, 140 S. Jewett Street, is scheduled for Monday, July 21 at 6:00 pm. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Two city schools reach improvement goals

Manchester has two fewer Schools in Need of Improvement. The New Hampshire Department of Education has announced that Gossler Park Elementary School and Southside Middle School have successfully met criteria to exit that federal status. Both schools have worked for several years on efforts to turn around their designation as low performing schools in the district based on assessment scores.

Funds from the state and U.S. departments of education in the form of School Improvement Grants (SIG) provided resources and professional development opportunities for faculty and staff to implement strategies in various areas of improvement.  

“The hard work, determination and dedication from every member of the Gossler Park and Southside communities have made those schools exemplary models for other schools in Manchester working to reach the same goals,” said Mayor Ted Gatsas. 

Many activities and guidelines for SIG Schools require hours of professional development, meetings, and data collection and analysis. Gossler Park and Southside set the bar for high expectations and continued their pursuit of excellence in academics throughout a transformation process. The strategies are now embedded in the way those schools help children learn.   

“The process taught us a lot about the ways we can be more effective educators,” said Lori Upham, principal of Gossler Park. “I’ve been able spend more time in the classroom being an instructional leader and giving timely feedback on teaching practices.”

District-wide sharing of ideas and experiences also was a key component of success, establishing the foundation for student excellence that will allow Gossler Park and Southside to reach exemplary status. 

“School improvement grants are about the ability to lead and build capacity to continue the work after the grant expires,” said Pat Snow, executive director of Manchester’s Innovation Zone, which oversees the progress of SIG schools. “I am confident that we can and will continue the excellent work and practices that lead to student achievement.”

Changes to school leadership teams announced

Some schools in Manchester have new principals and/or assistant principals on staff  after voluntary shifts for the upcoming school year. Among the changes, Rachelle Otero is moving from her post as principal of Hallsville Elementary School to become full-time assistant principal at Smyth Road. McLaughlin Middle School assistant principal Tim Otis will assume the same role at Manchester High School West. He replaces Debora Roukey, who is joining the team of assistant principals at Central.

“We’re fortunate to have strong administrators at all of our schools, which makes it possible for the executive team and school board members to honor requests by those looking for new opportunities,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Debra Livingston. “We respect their leadership and eagerness to bring new ideas to the schools where they’ll be serving.”

Adjustments of school-level administrations mean a new principal will be hired for Hallsville. McLaughlin, which staffs two assistant principals, now has one position open to replace Otis. Southside Middle School will start the school year with a new principal not yet hired, after Kim Organek was named principal of Wilson Elementary School last month to succeed Linda Durand, who retired.     

Other changes include naming Steve Soucy as full-time assistant principal at Bakersville Elementary School. He had been part-time there and at Smyth Road. Ellen Allaire, previously part-time principal at Webster Elementary, is now part-time at Hallsville. A new assistant principal at Webster has not yet been named.