Friday, September 30, 2016

Principal Shelly Larochelle earns national recognition

Shelly Larochelle, principal of Northwest Elementary School, is among 58 outstanding elementary and middle school principals from across the nation and abroad who have been named as 2016 National Distinguished Principals (NDP) by the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP).The NDPs will be honored Oct. 7 at an awards banquet at the Capital Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C., as part of a two-day program.
Established in 1984, the National Distinguished Principals program recognizes public and private school principals who make superior contributions to their schools and communities. The principals will also have the opportunity to share best practices. The 58 principal honorees are selected by NAESP state affiliates and by committees representing private and overseas schools.
NAESP Executive Director Gail Connelly congratulated the class of outstanding principals, noting their significant influence on the students, schools, and communities they serve. 
“Principals are uniquely positioned to impact the academic, social, and emotional success of all students,” she said. “These exceptional leaders have proven their commitment to providing a high-quality, well-rounded education in their schools. The National Distinguished Principals program recognizes these well-deserving principals for their extraordinary passion, dedication, and contribution to their schools, their students, and their communities.”
Mrs. Larochelle is New Hampshire's elementary school Principal of the Year, She received that honor last winter from the New Hampshire Association of Principals. 
It is particularly fitting to acknowledge the work of principals in October because it is National Principals Month, which was established to recognize and honor the contributions of school principals and assistant principals toward the success of the nation’s students, and encourage awareness of their significance.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

September newsletter available

The September edition of MSD Messages is now available for download. Click HERE, or read below.

Free Sports Physicals Event on Nov. 16

Safe Sports Network is hosting their annual FREE sports physicals event. This year it will be on November 16th, 2016 at the NH Orthopaedic Center in Bedford, NH. The event will run from 5:30p-7:00p. 

Participants are asked to RSVP ahead of time. They can sign up using this link: Walk-ins are also welcomed, they can print off the form and bring it with them.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

BOSC names new superintendent

Courtesy: Union Leader
Manchester School District will welcome its new superintendent, Dr. Bolgen Vargas, in October. His appointment was confirmed after the full Board of School Committee voted in favor of offering Dr. Vargas the job and a contract was approved Monday night. 

Dr. Vargas comes to Manchester from Rochester, NY, where he served first as interim then superintendent of Rochester City School District from 2011 until the end of 2015. His previous career experience includes 20 years as a school counselor. Dr. Vargas also served eight years as a Commissioner on the Rochester Board of Education, including four as president.

Members of our school communities had an opportunity to meet and hear from Dr. Vargas during his one-day tour of several schools as part of the final interview process. Parents and students were invited to question and answer sessions at MST, Beech Street and Northwest elementary schools, McLaughlin Middle School, and Central High School. The school board's special committee for the superintendent search also hosted an evening public forum at Memorial High School. 
Courtesy: Union Leader

“The special committee worked hard to identify the right fit for Manchester, and the right candidate to lead our schools,” said Arthur Beaudry, vice chair of the school board. “We know Dr. Vargas will work in the best interests of our students and community.”

The full board of school committee met on September 24 for the final interview and vote to hire Dr. Vargas. 

"I would like to welcome Dr. Vargas to Manchester, and I look forward to working with him on the upcoming budget and redistricting," said Mayor Ted Gatsas, school board chairman. 

Dr. Vargas received his doctorate in Education Leadership and Organization from the University of Pennsylvania. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in international studies and a master's degree in school counseling, both from the State University of New York at Brockport.

Dr. Vargas says urban education is not simply a career, but a vocation about which he is passionate. 

"My desire to relocate to Manchester is driven by my commitment to lead an urban district serving a broad socio-economic range of families, from those just arriving to those more established in the community," said Dr. Vargas. "The challenges of the Manchester School District are significant but not insurmountable if we all work together to respond to the needs of each individual student.  It is incumbent upon us to make sure every school is a school of excellence that helps every child succeed in preparation for citizenship and pursuit of a their aspirations such as college, career, military and family life." 

Dr. Vargas and his wife are looking forward to relocating to Manchester with Tesoro, their very spoiled Labrador retriever. They have family in New Hampshire and in Massachusetts and have always enjoyed their visits to the region.

Friday, September 23, 2016

New administrative appointments this fall

Superintendent of Schools Debra Livingston has named the district’s new director of student services and preschool coordinator, as well as two assistant principals. The Board of School Committee officially approved the hires at last week’s meeting.

As director of student services, Dr. Jennifer Dolloff will be responsible for the school district’s special education program, maintaining and monitoring the records of all students receiving services. She will supervise special education staff across the district and serve as chief advocate for the needs of Manchester’s special education students at the state and national levels.

Dr. Dolloff comes to our district from the Southeastern Regional Education Service Center (SERESC) in Bedford. SERESC is a consortium of educational consultants and programs providing school districts across the state with resources and assistance. Dr. Dolloff’s role there primarily focused on the needs of children receiving special education services.

“My first priority will be to develop a full understanding of the special education programs and services available to students in Manchester,” said Dr. Dolloff. “I look forward to visiting schools and talking with students, staff, and parents.”

After beginning her career as a classroom special education teacher, Dr. Dolloff served as special education coordinator in the Monadnock Regional School District for five years, then as director of special education for the Nashua School District, before moving to her most recent position at SERESC in 2004. Dr. Dolloff received her doctorate of education from Rivier University and holds advanced degrees in education from the University of Massachusetts and Boston College.  

Mary Beth Shea is the new special education coordinator for the district’s Selma Deitch Early Learning Program. She will oversee preschool for three- and four-year olds at five school locations, as well as the daily operations of Child Find, the team of specialists which evaluates and identifies children who qualify for special education or related services.

During her education career, Shea has been principal of two Massachusetts elementary schools, assistant principal of another, and social worker for two school districts, including Manchester. In that role from 2013 to 2015, she provided support to our city’s refugee and homeless students in grades six to 12. Shea is happy to return to Manchester in a new capacity.

“I believe it is essential for parents and educators to work together as partners to ensure children develop solid academic skills and a lifelong love of learning,” Shea said. “I am looking forward to getting to know the preschool staff, and learning how I can best support their work.”

Shea replaces Pam Agate, who served as Manchester’s preschool special education coordinator since 2011 and is now assistant principal at Jewett Street Elementary School. First a paraprofessional, then preschool special education teacher, Agate also was a teaching assistant principal for three years, supervising preschool staff and approximately 300 students in the Selma Deitch Early Learning Program.

West High School also welcomes a new assistant principal, Laura Lord. She is another familiar face in Manchester, most recently serving as special education teacher and case manager at Hillside Middle School. There, Lord developed and implemented Individual Education Plans, collaborating with teachers to ensure support for the students who have IEPs. Her skills and experience are a strength for her new role at West, which focuses on student services.

Lord and Agate began the academic year at their new schools; Dr. Dolloff and Shea will take on their positions before the end of September.

“Manchester is fortunate to welcome these talented new leaders to the school district,” Dr. Livingston said. “Their contributions to education in our city will support the work we do every day to help students reach the high quality standards we’ve set.” 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

One superintendent finalist withdraws his candidacy

The five members of the Manchester Superintendent Search Committee charged with screening and presenting qualified candidates to the full school committee were notified late Tuesday afternoon that one of the two final candidates who was to visit Manchester on Friday, September 23 has voluntarily withdrawn from this search for a variety of personal reasons.

The search consultants from HYA, a national search firm that has been working with the Manchester Board of School Committee, received word from Dr. Vincent Cotter on Tuesday that he was no longer interested in the Manchester position.

This leaves one candidate, Dr. Bolgen Vargas of Rochester, NY.  Dr. Vargas will spend all of Friday in Manchester meeting with school board members, school faculty, students and parents.  He will have lunch with the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce and will answer general questions at a public forum on Friday evening, which will begin at 6:00 PM at Memorial High School.

On Saturday, September 24 the entire school board will meet to interview Dr. Vargas and make a final decision.

Committee Member Debra Langton, chair of the five-member search committee, reported that while it is unfortunate to have a candidate withdraw his candidacy at this point in the process, it does nothing to decrease the validity of the remaining candidate.  Both Dr. Cotter and Dr. Vargas were deemed to be highly qualified candidates for superintendent.

The initial charge to the search committee was to identify highly qualified candidates who were eager to come to Manchester and oversee the daily operations of the city’s schools.  Throughout the entire search procedure, the search committee has been narrowing the field of candidates down to an individual who possesses the professional skills and desire to lead Manchester schools forward.

Citizens will have the opportunity to meet Dr. Vargas during his visit to Manchester and a reaction form will be used to gather public input prior to the school board’s meeting on Saturday morning. If the full school board does not reach agreement on this candidate, the search process for Manchester’s next superintendent will continue.   

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

2016 Higher Level Learning Opportunities for High School Students Survey

Manchester School District wants to better understand how effectively it is communicating higher level learning opportunities to high school students and their families.

A higher level learning opportunity is defined as an experience such as a course or program that rises in levels of complexity and demand through accelerated learning.

Courses and programs that meet the criteria for higher level learning opportunities include high school honors (Level 3), Advanced Placement (Level 4), Manchester Community College’s Running Start program, and Southern New Hampshire University’s Dual Enrollment Program (a/k/a College in the High School).

We invite parents and students to take a survey that will help us collect important information about your experiences. The links for each are below. Thank you for your time!

Parent survey:
The parent survey is also available in Arabic, Bosnian, Nepali, Spanish and Vietnamese.

Students in grades 8 - 12 are invited to take the survey:

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Now hiring: Substitute teachers

Manchester School District is looking to enhance its pool of substitute faculty and staff. Substitutes for classroom teachers and paraprofessionals are needed regularly when there are unexpected absences, but school districts regionally and across the country are experiencing a shortage of subs.

“We recruit substitute teachers and paras all year long to maintain the number of qualified individuals we can call on,” said Superintendent Dr. Debra Livingston. “In recent years, fewer people are applying, and the pool is getting smaller.”  

Many current subs are retired teachers or educators who choose not to work full-time, and the ability to create a customized schedule is a major draw.

“The flexibility is fabulous,” said Moira Philbrook, who has regularly filled in at elementary and high schools off and on for about 20 years since leaving a teaching position. “I can say yes or no, depending on my family schedule or other commitments. I also like the variety of meeting different kids and being in different classrooms.”

Philbrook chooses to plan her substitute teaching days ahead of time. When a teacher needs a personal day or knows when he or she will be out for a professional development workshop, schools can call subs directly and schedule them for those upcoming dates.

Another option is to be part of the “sub line” pool. That’s when most of those pre-dawn phone calls happen. When a teacher is sick, schools have to find a substitute that very morning, and there’s a list of subs to call who might or might not be available. It’s one of the biggest challenges for individual schools on a given day.

A degree is not required, but people who have earned at least 48 college credits and a desire to be a positive role model for our students may qualify to be substitute teachers in the Manchester School District. Annette Greer has a background in the medical field and works at several elementary schools in the city two to three days a week.

“It’s not difficult to walk into a classroom as a sub,” Greer said. “The teachers always have lessons prepared and ready.”

Pamela Dube, a former social worker, says subbing at the high school level fits her personality best, and she makes herself available as a substitute every week, working around her schedule at another job.

“I love connecting with the kids,” she said. “That’s why I go back every day that I can.”

For those who do wish to be full-time educators, substitute teaching is a great way to make contacts and get to know the schools.

“Recent college graduates or people changing careers should consider subbing,” said Philbrook. “One of the reasons I started teaching at Memorial High School all those years ago was because I was remembered as a substitute. It was an advantage to be a familiar face.”

The pay rate for substitutes is $70 per day; paraprofessional subs earn $10 an hour. Please email Pam Naum at the Manchester School District central office to ask for an application packet: Candidates who submit applications will be interviewed.