|West High School principal Rick Dichard; Diane Fitzpatrick, CEO Boys & Girls Club of Manchester;|
Mike Skelton, president & CEO, Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce;
Susan Huard, president, Manchester Community College; Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bolgen Vargas;
Mayor Ted Gatsas; Alex Walker, Chief Operating Officer, Catholic Medical Center
Manchester School District (MSD) has received $300,000 from the Barr Foundation to support plans to transform West High School into a competency-based, student-centered learning model of education.
Based in Boston, the Barr Foundation directs its investments to nonprofit organizations, the public sector, and civic and business leaders to connect all students to success in high school and beyond.
The funds from this grant will help MSD and its partners, including the Boys & Girls Club of Manchester and other local agencies and businesses, develop a plan to transform five key areas of the West High School experience: out of school learning; personalization; college and career preparation; student support and family engagement; and school culture. These components will provide all students the knowledge, skills, and experiences necessary for post-secondary success.
“Educators across the country recognize the need for new approaches to instruction in the 21st century,” said Dr. Bolgen Vargas, superintendent of schools. “We have seen the benefits of student-centered learning, and West High School provides us a great opportunity to replicate that success, for the first time, on a large scale school-wide.”
This initiative will engage every West student by enhancing existing programs, such as STEAM Ahead NH, access to college courses, and internships for extended learning opportunities beyond the traditional classroom. Because of early discussions about applying for the Barr Foundation grant, teachers and students are actively pursuing a career-shadowing collaboration with Catholic Medical Center.
As the primary community partner, the Boys & Girls Club of Manchester will coordinate all local partnership activities through a Community Advisory group.
Redesigning an educational model takes careful planning, time, and resources. MSD will be working with two widely recognized organizations, Center for Collaborative Education (CCE) and Big Picture Learning (BPL), to support this planning phase. Both have significant experience in facilitating the kind of transformation Manchester hopes to accomplish.
CCE and BPL will bring their collective resources and assistance to every aspect of the planning phase, including coordinating design and solution team meetings, conducting focus groups, and helping to write the redesign implementation plan. Their advisement will provide the school district with the guidance and capacity to successfully achieve its vision for West High School.
Manchester School District anticipates completing the plan by the end of December 2018 and will devote the subsequent six months to piloting select redesign components. Full redesign implementation will take place in September 2019.