Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Manchester has the state's most outstanding band director

New Hampshire Band Directors Association (NHBDA) executive board has named West High School band director Diane Francoeur the NHBDA Outstanding Band Director for 2016.

The award is presented to an individual who has demonstrated an exceptionally high level of competence as a band director and developed a comprehensive band program, which has contributed educationally to the school, and provided service to their community.

Francoeur has been recognized for excellence in her field before. In 2015, she was selected by the New Hampshire Music Educators Association to be the state’s Distinguished Music Educator of the Year. She has been with Manchester School District for about 24 years, 11 of them at West.

The NHBDA will present Francoeur with the award during the New England Band Directors’ Institute on July 8, 2016 on the campus of Plymouth State University.

Memorial High School teacher honored by professional association of chemists

Judith Ashworth with Steve Lantos, chair of the
Theodore William Richards Award committee
Judith Ashworth, chemistry teacher at Memorial High School, is the 2016 recipient of the Theodore William Richards Award for Excellence in Teaching Secondary School Chemistry. The award was presented at the 961st meeting of the Northeastern Section of the American Chemical Society (NESACS) “Education Awards Night,” held at A123 Systems LLC in Waltham, Massachusetts earlier this month.

Ashworth was recognized as a teacher who, through innovation and dedication, has inspired potential chemists, has communicated chemistry to non-chemists, or has influenced other teachers of chemistry. According to the award description, the criteria for excellence correspond broadly to the effectiveness with which the teacher conveys the principles of chemistry to students and to the influence that the teacher has had on students and on other teachers.

Colleagues, former students, and Memorial High School principal Arthur Adamakos are among those who nominated Ashworth for the honor and say her skill for making students think and act like pure scientists have influenced many to continue on in medical and scientific careers.

“Even students not continuing in chemistry or the physical sciences know they’ve learned analytical skills useful to them in any discipline, all influenced by this amazing teacher,” stated one letter in support of Ashworth. “She challenges all of her students and builds their confidence by getting each one to find their potential to learn well. Sincere, genuine, (and) a fierce advocate for her students, Ms. Judith Ashworth exemplifies the best in teaching.”

Ashworth is completing her 27th year of teaching in the Manchester School District, her seventh at Memorial. She’s happy to be teaching at her alma mater, where she grew up across the street!

“Judy is a well-respected teacher among the faculty who successfully reaches students with a variety of learning styles,” said Adamakos.

Ashworth works to be a positive role model for female students, to help them develop confidence for success in the perceived male-dominated field of chemistry and other sciences.

“Chemistry provides students an opportunity to explore their strengths and weaknesses in a ‘hands-on’ and ‘minds-on’ environment,” said Ashworth. “A student who feels empowered has the ability to accomplish anything because she/he understands she/he has the potential to do it.”

As part of her award, Ashworth also received a $1,500 prize.

NESACS was founded in 1898 for the advancement of chemistry and chemical engineering while promoting research in the physical sciences and industry with over 6000 professional chemists and educators as members.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Green Acres Elementary School wants you to "read all day"

The staff at Green Acres Elementary School has produced a video promoting a love of reading and celebrating the students' Million Word Challenge accomplishments. Enjoy!

Summer reading send-off

Many elementary school students will be receiving books as they leave for the summer, thanks to the generosity of Hugh Poza of GALE Cengage Learning in Bedford. Mr. Poza, who has worked as an education sales consultant for several years, had accumulated more than 2,000 student books and close to 1,000 instructional texts and materials that were designated as giveaways to schools. He chose to make the donation to the Manchester School District, where he felt the books would serve students best.

Reading teachers from several schools spent the morning at the district office sorting the books into grade levels and boxing them up to be distributed to schools and students across the city.

Culinary students recognized by city health department

Phil Alexakos, second from right, of the Manchester Health Department presented a certificate of excellence to Chef Michael Holfelder's Intro to Culinary Arts students

For the second year in a row, Manchester School of Technology's Intro to Culinary Arts class has earned a Public Health Excellence Award for Food Safety.  The award from the Manchester Health Department honors food establishments which achieve the highest sanitary standards when it comes to food preparation. Fewer than 10% of the Manchester’s commercial kitchens receive the award.

The Culinary Arts kitchen at MST is inspected twice a year, just like any other restaurant in the city. MST met the rigorous criteria for the award, which includes compliance with all applicable laws and regulations related to safe food handling and preparation, with no critical violations and average inspection scores of 90 or higher. The culinary arts class average score was a 98.5 out a possible 100.

Monday, May 23, 2016

DOE grant will support after school programs for five more years

Superintendent Debra Livingston is pleased to announce that the Manchester School District 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program has been awarded a grant from the New Hampshire Department of Education to continue high-quality afterschool programming in three Manchester schools for another five years.

In a highly competitive review process, the Department of Education awarded $243,750 to programs at Beech Street, Northwest, and Wilson elementary schools, noting that the “family literacy strategies are exemplary.” The nine other 21st CCLC sites – Bakersville, Gossler Park, Hallsville, McDonough, and Parker-Varney elementary schools, and all four Manchester middle schools – are in their second year of a five-year funding cycle.

The goal of Manchester’s 21st CCLC afterschool program is to inspire all students to reach their full potential academically, personally, and socially. During the out-of-school hours, students have the opportunity to participate in STEAM-focused (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) enrichment activities that facilitate new skills development while inspiring creativity and learning.

“Families have come to depend on the safe, affordable, and engaging afterschool experience that 21st Century Community Learning Centers provides to our children, and we’re thrilled to keep it going,” said Livingston. “The connections students make and skills they develop in this program benefit them academically and socially well beyond their elementary and middle school years.”

21st CCLC serves more than 2,000 students in Manchester across 12 schools, grades K-8, per year. Program partners include community-based organizations that bring high-quality STEAM clubs to the 21st CCLC school sites: University of New Hampshire (UNH) 4-H Cooperative Extension for SeaPerch, Stream Safari, Makey-Makey, and Scratch; Student Conservation Association (SCA) for Nature Explorers; Bedford Youth Performing Company (BYPC) for singing, acting, dancing, and instrumental instruction. Age appropriate skill-building activities continue to increase levels of engagement in learning, greater satisfaction with program, and opportunities to develop leadership skills.

For more information about the 21st Century Community Learning Centers in Manchester, please go to: http://www.mansd.org/21st_century, or visit our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/21stCenturyManchester.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Rotary Club grant to fund drug prevention education

Drug prevention education in Manchester schools is getting a significant boost with a donation of $10,000 from Manchester Rotary Club. The grant will be used to develop a plan that integrates drug use prevention activities into core content curriculum for students in grades 6 through 12.

Manchester Rotary Club president Mark Burns, Rotary Foundation chair Sue Manchester, and Rotary program chair Cindy Gaffney present a check to Manchester School District superintendent Debra Livingston, assistant superintendent David Ryan
“In light of the heroin epidemic that Manchester and so many other communities are facing, education about drugs contained to one class or even a week of awareness is no longer adequate,” said Superintendent Debra Livingston. “The intent of the instruction we want to create is to keep the dangers of heroin use and other addictive behaviors familiar to students so that they make smart and healthy choices in their own lives.”

Money raised by the Rotary Club is traditionally used to promote the organization’s motto, Service Above Self, through support for projects and programs that address critical needs in the local community.
“When we approached the school district about whether our funds could benefit Manchester’s students, the idea of drug prevention education seemed like a great fit,” said Manchester Rotary Club president Mark Burns.

A committee of 29 school counselors, student assistance program coordinators, and teachers representing all eight middle and high schools will work with local service agency representatives to develop the new curriculum activities outside of the school day. The grant will provide stipends to those on the team for up to 10 hours of work. About $1,000 of the Rotary Club grant is set aside for supplies and reserve expenses.

In many respects on this topic, educators are inventing the wheel. The Rotary Club’s commitment to help fund the process will go a long way toward making Manchester’s efforts a success. One of the goals of the curriculum development work is to share the integrated activities with other interested school districts.

“We’ve met with Somersworth School District, the one other school district we know of looking to enhance substance abuse and addiction awareness education in this fashion,” said Manchester School District Assistant Superintendent David Ryan. “Because heroin addiction does not discriminate between zip codes or demographics, it makes sense for Manchester and Somersworth to do the work together for all of our kids.”

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Summer Reading and Parent Tips for K - 5

During school vacation, it is important for your child to spend time reading and writing on a regular basis. Luckily, summer’s more flexible schedule and wide array of activities lend themselves to literacy opportunities. 

Long distance nature lessons

The 1,400-mile journey from the beaches of Florida to a McDonough Elementary School is helping students embrace nature in a place they may never get to visit. Check it out!

Monday, May 16, 2016

April/May newsletter

Check out all the news and updates from the past couple of months. Click HERE or below.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

West High School art department: upcoming events

National Art Honor Society, chapter 104 spring induction ceremony
May 18, 6:00 pm
West High School library
The ceremony recognizes the members of West High School's chapter and features a display of student work. The guest speaker is Adam Fitzgerald, editor in chief of "Iron and Air" magazine.

Annual spring art show
May 25, 4:00 - 6:00 pm
West High School library
Come enjoy hundreds of art pieces on exhibit, food and music. It is open to the public and free to attend, though donations to West's National Art Honor Society chapter are accepted.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Webster names new principal

Sarah Lynch is the new principal of Webster Elementary School, effective July 1, 2016. Board of School Committee members last night approved Superintendent Debra Livingston’s recommendation of Lynch for the position.

“Ms. Lynch is a great match for the children of Webster,” said Dr. Livingston. “I am confident she will be an asset to every aspect of the school community.”

Lynch currently works for the Lawrence, Massachusetts, School District as an administrative mentor. She has held curriculum coach and third grade classroom teacher positions in Lawrence as well. Lynch has taught students with various abilities and needs over the course of her career. Her experience also includes serving as assistant principal at Walker School, a therapeutic residential and day school for students with severe behavioral, emotional and social disabilities in Needham, Massachusetts.

Among her strengths as a leader, Lynch cites her ability to observe and offer effective, constructive feedback to staff, to guide students toward the opportunities that help them become successful learners, and to be a supportive role model and good listener.

“I’m excited to be part of what I can already see is an amazing and dynamic team of educators at Webster Elementary School,” said Lynch. “I value the opportunity to celebrate the work they’re doing and lead them to continued success.”

Lynch holds an elementary education bachelor’s degree from Salem State College, a master’s in educational leadership and management from Fitchburg State College, and a master’s of education in moderate disabilities from Lesley University.

Lynch succeeds Christine Martin, who left Webster last fall to assume duties as Manchester School District assistant superintendent for elementary education. Elinor Murphy, a veteran educator in Manchester, has been serving as Webster’s interim principal this school year.

Manchester Community Music School "Petting Zoo"

The Manchester Community Music School is hosting a wonderful Instrument Petting Zoo event! Young students are invited with their parents to explore and try out several different instruments during the program under the guidance of expert teachers. 

The event is on Saturday, May 14th from 10:00-12:00 at the Manchester Community Music School (2291 Elm Street). During the event, students will hear instrument demonstrations by professionals and then have the chance to learn how to put them together and create sounds on many instruments. Instruments include flute, saxophone, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, violin, viola, cello, harp, piano and students can even experience vocal session. 

West High School junior named Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year

Selected among six outstanding youth, Arielys Liriano has been named the 2016 New Hampshire Youth of the Year by Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA). The Youth of the Year title is a prestigious honor bestowed upon an exemplary young person in recognition of leadership, service, academic excellence and dedication to live a healthy lifestyle.

The program honors our nation's most awe-inspiring young people on their path to great futures and encourages all kids to lead, succeed and inspire. As the NH Youth of the Year, Arielys will serve as an ambassador for all teens in the state, will receive  $16,000 in college scholarships from BGCA, the Ninety-Nine Restaurants and an anonymous donor, and will go on to compete in the regional Youth of the Year, ultimately vying for the national title.

Liriano has devoted more than 600 hours to giving back to the Manchester community through her involvement in Key Club, Manchester High School West and church activities. In addition to being a great leader and role model, she is a dedicated student and excels in her advanced studies classes and has been recognized as Scholar of the Month.  She is a former student of Breakthrough Manchester and serves as a teacher for middle school students. Liriano is interested in pursuing a degree in the field of higher education, law or medicine.

Liriano has been a member of the Boys & Girls Club for nine years and serves as president of the organization's teen leadership program, the Keystone Club. She serves as a strong role model and wants to motivate youth to make an impact in their communities. As Youth of the Year, she hopes to represent what Boys & Girls Clubs are all about:  leadership, service and academic excellence. She states, "As Youth of the Year, I will be the best version of myself in order to motivate and mentor others."

"Arielys and all Youth of the Year nominees are living proof that Boys & Girls Clubs across the country are fulfilling our mission of inspiring and enabling young people to achieve great futures," said Jim Clark, president and CEO, BGCA.  "Being named Youth of the Year is a lifelong honor. As the NH Youth of the Year, Arielys will serve as a spokesperson for our young people, sharing her inspiring story and leading the way to transform communities for the better."

Boys & Girls Clubs of America's National Youth of the Year recognition program is presented by Disney, who has supported BGCA for more than 50 years, empowering young people to reach their full potential and providing youth with access to the tools they need to build the great futures they imagine. Toyota, the Signature Sponsor of Youth of the Year, is committed to helping improve the quality of life in our communities, and has demonstrated a strong commitment to ensuring youth have access to a quality education. Additional support is provided by University of Phoenix, a national education partner that has joined with BGCA to impact academic success among youth across the country, and the Taco Bell Foundation, BGCA's premier partner for teen empowerment.

This summer, Arielys will compete against other Boys & Girls Club members within the Northeast Region. If named regional winner, she will be awarded an additional $10,000 college scholarship, renewable for four years up to $40,000. Six youth, including five regional winners and a military youth winner, will advance to Washington, D.C., in September 2016, to compete for the title of BGCA's National Youth of the Year. The National Youth of the Year will receive an additional scholarship of $25,000, renewable for four years up to $100,000 and will have the opportunity to meet with the President of the United States in the White House.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Parker-Varney receives prestigious national award for improvement

Parker-Varney Elementary School is one of five schools in the nation to receive the 2016 School Innovation and Change Award. The honor recognizes schools which embraced new and innovative strategies to transform from underperforming to exemplary.

Members of the National Principals Leadership Institute visited Parker-Varney today to officially present the award, which includes a $10,000 grant to support the school’s ongoing transformation efforts.

“The effort Parker-Varney’s staff, students, and parents have made is a tribute to the school’s dedication to the well-being and academic success of all students,” said Dr. Jann Coles, School Innovation and Change Awards director. “This is the only award of its type in the nation, and we are proud to include Parker-Varney in this year’s group of elite honorees.”

Schools measure themselves against 16 specific criteria and consider the degree to which they have improved, grown, and significantly changed.  The award application must also include how the school embraced new and innovative strategies to achieve the change.  Nine judges comprised of teachers, principals, superintendents, professors, former awardees, SICA officials and other proponents of educational improvement review each application. 

NH Dept of Education Title 1 manager Kathryn Nichol; NH DOE Deputy Commissioner Paul Leather; MSD superintendent Debra Livingston; NH DOE Commissioner Virginia Barry; Parker-Varney principal Amy Allen; Jennifer Boone and Gordon Duncan from the National Principals Leadership Institute
“We know we must transform the way we educate beyond the traditional methods,” said Parker-Varney principal Amy Allen. “Our success is a result of our dedicated teachers who embrace innovation and evolve to meet the learning needs of our students.”

The award ceremony at Parker-Varney included student and staff recognitions. New Hampshire Commissioner of Education Virginia Barry, Mayor Ted Gatsas, U.S. Representative Frank Guinta, members of the Board of School Committee and Board of Aldermen were in attendance.

Parker-Varney and its staff have recently been recognized in New Hampshire. It was named the Elementary School of the Year in 2015 by the state Department of Education. Preschool teacher Ashley Preston is the current New Hampshire Teacher of the Year.

“We are very proud of Principal Allen, the teachers, students and their families for the tremendous improvements Parker-Varney has made,” said superintendent Debra Livingston. “Their hard work and enthusiasm are helping students grow to be outstanding citizens and lifelong learners.”

The National Principals Leadership Institute created the School Innovation and Change Award in 1999. Since then, more than 900 schools have been nominated from 47 states, and just 86 schools have been selected, including this year.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Central briefly in "secure campus" for neighborhood incident

Central High School was put into secure campus for approximately ten minutes this afternoon, because of a situation near the school that did not involve students. It happened a little after 2:30, just before the end of the school day. Manchester Police felt it was safe to proceed with regular dismissal, and the secure campus status was cleared at that time.


Thursday, May 5, 2016

Dr. Livingston announces retirement

After nearly three years leading New Hampshire’s largest school district, Manchester Superintendent Dr. Debra Livingston has announced she will retire, effective October 1, 2016. Dr. Livingston has been an energetic advocate for all children and public education for more than three decades. She arrived in Manchester from Fall Mountain Regional School District in the summer of 2013 and has led many successful initiatives here.

The Manchester Academic Standards developed during Dr. Livingston’s tenure reflects a focus on increased academic rigor, technology-supported learning, and evidence-based instruction. The collaboration among more than 60 Manchester teachers, curriculum specialists, and higher education researchers resulted in the highest level of academic expectations for all students in the Manchester School District.

Dr. Livingston is proud to have played a role in implementing full day kindergarten in Manchester in 2014. She also created Manchester’s Innovation Zone. The seven transforming i-Zone schools are encouraged to try creative ways of teaching that have proven results and highly engage students to successfully meet their learning needs. One of those schools, Parker-Varney Elementary School, was a New Hampshire Excellence in Education award recipient as the 2015 Elementary School of the Year and most recently received a national School Innovation and Change Award.

“The team of faculty, staff and administrators in our schools and at the district office is the best I’ve worked with in my career,” said Dr. Livingston. “What we’ve achieved in Manchester and the high quality education we provide to our kids are because of all the dedicated people around me.”

Dr. Livingston has been involved with several organizations that make a difference in the community and often partner with the school district. Dr. Livingston serves on the board of trustees for the Granite YMCA and on the City of Manchester Neighborhood Health Improvement Strategy leadership team. Currently, she is a New Hampshire Scholars board member, UNH Manchester advisory board member, and serves as a core planning group member for the Northeast Educator Effectiveness Alliance.

The Manchester Board of School Committee will lead the search for a new superintendent.

SPRITZ at West High School

The West High School National Honor Society has a fun day planned for kids in grades 6-12! There are over 40 classes to choose from during Saturday's SPRITZ, such as "The Chemistry of Fire," "Survival 101," "Actor's Studio," "How to Make Ice-Cream," "Oragami," "Pokemon Mythology," and many more. The courses are FREE, and lunch is generously provided by Skinny's Pizzeria and Restaurant

Use this link to find out more and register!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Kids to Parks Day is May 21

Mayor Gatsas has proclaimed
May 21, 2016
in Manchester,
as people across the country celebrate the
100th birthday of the National Park Service this year!

Come join Manchester Parks and Recreation
in Veteran’s Park from 10am-1pm
with free performances, free kids nature crafts and much more!

Spring has sprung and it is time to CELEBRATE the parks and all they offer!