Manchester School District
Notes from the Superintendent
Welcome back to school!

In my 30 years in the education profession I have never been more excited for the coming school year.  We are continuing to develop clarity around our MSD mission by developing partnerships with our community, inspiring and empowering our learners, and assisting all students to reach their greatest potentials.  Our MSD vision has us looking into our future to see a dynamic educational system focused on the realization of student aspirations. 


Last June, when I spoke to all of the faculty and staff of the Manchester School District, I showed a short silent video of Charlie Chaplin trying desperately to start a model T by kicking the tires, cranking the starter and even pounding on the engine. Finally the car started. 


In the Manchester School District we've experienced a similar feeling. But what Jim Collins says in his book, Good to Great, is that when we are trying new things, there are often stops and starts. It is important to continue to learn, since we are a learning organization, and get better and better at what we do. Sometimes it will be difficult and messy, yet as we build plans and knowledge we will see many breakthroughs.  As a district, we must stay the course; we are headed in the right direction. 


This year we will use Collins' "Hedgehog Concept" to get better at what we started last year.  A hedgehog digs its hole down just as wide as it is. It is focused, centered and digs deeply, just as we will this year in our learning.


We have already experienced so many successes. This year every kindergarten student is in school the entire day. Although not official from the state, we saw our dropout rate cut in half last year. We continue to develop a rigorous curriculum for our district, which includes PSAT exams for all sophomores.  The results will show us students' strengths so that we can encourage them to enroll in challenging classes.


We will continue our work with Dr. Paul Gorski to better understand cultural diversity and how we can be sensitive about the things we say and do to ensure that we are inclusive of all students and their cultures. 


The Manchester Academic Standards developed by teachers for our students have been adopted, and now we will "dig deeper" by developing curriculum and assessment pieces to align with our standards.


Manchester businesses and our community are at the ready to assist us. STEAM Ahead NH, a science technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics program for freshmen students at Manchester West High School opened on the first day of school.  Junior STEAM Ahead will begin this year with the assistance of FIRST at three elementary schools. "1000 Mentors for Manchester" will engage our businesses in the education of our students in real-world learning.  Professional Learning Communities at each school will continue their development with the goal of improving student academic achievement.


As we move from "good to great," we also grow in our understanding that schools are sacred, trusted places; places where when students come to school after being absent, are greeted with a smile and a "welcome back" because we know that not being in school is not always their choice.  Homelessness or babysitting younger children so parents can work, illness or other crisis in the family are just some of the challenges our students face. 


Students trust that we have made every effort to be prepared every day with exciting and challenging learning.  We know that every day, every hour students can and will learn something new through discovery and critical thinking.


Schools are sacred, trusted places where students believe in the integrity, ability and character of every teacher, staff member, and principal and places where students expect honesty and fairness and want to us to remember they are still young and learning.  Students expect us to view each of them as a whole child -- socially, emotionally, artistically, technologically, athletically, and academically.


In sacred, trusted schools, students and their families know that we are their advocates and school safety is a priority.


Schools are sacred, trusted places where children depend on us to be innovative and take risks.  Failure is respected as part of the learning process. We understand that we are role models as students watch how we act and react.


Over the course of last year and the beginning of this year as I have visited all of Manchester schools, I see what our teachers and staff do every day.  They teach children from desperate situations and children who attend Ivy League schools.  They have one of the most challenging jobs in the state and yet are able to do it so well.  We are a district on the move, on a mission, and headed in the right direction.  We understand that schools are sacred, trusted places.


I am very proud and humbled to be your superintendent and be a part of the Manchester family.

Administrative Additions
A few swaps, a few new faces

Several schools have welcomed new principals and assistant principals this year. Some of these administrators are new to the district; others have moved from one school to another in the city:
  • Ellen Allaire, Assistant Principal, Hallsville Elementary School
  • Michael Beaulac, Assistant Principal, Parker Varney Elementary School
  • Kelly Bilodeau, Assistant Principal, McLaughlin Middle School
  • Jane Clayton, Assistant Principal, Hillside Middle School
  • Kelly Espinola, Assistant Principal, Beech Street Elementary School
  • Jennifer Gillis, Principal, Southside Elementary School
  • Susan Matthews, Principal, Highland-Goffe's Falls Elementary School
  • Christi Michaud, Principal, Hallsville Elementary School
  • Kim Organek, Principal, Wilson Elementary School
  • Rachelle Otero, Assistant Principal, Smyth Road Elementary School
  • Tim Otis, Assistant Principal, West High School
  • Debora Roukey, Assistant Principal, Central High School
  • John Vaccarezza, Principal, Central High School
  • Kristen Withee, Assistant Principal, Webster Elementary School
The school district central office also welcomes: 
  • Wendy Perron, Director of English Learners
  • Samantha Richards, Federal Projects Administrator

Parker-Varney recognized 
at national conference
School's improvement plan is a model for others


Parker-Varney Elementary School principal Amy Allen was tapped by the New Hampshire Department of Education to co-present her school's innovation plan to a national audience of education leaders.


Allen and her team developed the plan this summer to raise student achievement at Parker-Varney, which is a designated Priority School that receives federal money for improvement strategies.


Parker-Varney's innovation plan uses academic data to create individual instruction and personalized learning for every child.  A significant component of the plan calls for ways to use resources more effectively. One result of that goal is the school's new Innovation Learning Lab. Time in the school day is now dedicated to giving all students more learning opportunities on the lab computers, which were paid for with Priority School funds.


"The amazing staff at Parker-Varney deserves much of the credit, and our teachers have worked very hard on this innovation redesign," said Allen. "They have taken risks, they have challenged themselves, and they have gone above and beyond to create an engaging, rigorous 21st century learning environment."

Allen's presentation of her plan with members of the NH DOE was one session on the agenda of the "Building Systemic and Sustainable Turnaround Efforts" conference September 23-24 in San Francisco. Hosted by the Center on School Turnaround, the conference offers the chance for educators to hear from experts in the field of school improvement as well as share experiences, challenges and successes.

Manchester Academic Standards
What's next? 

The Manchester School District took an unprecedented step in whole district reform last year when it embarked on a year-long journey with teachers, administrators, curriculum specialists, learning standards professionals, and professors from higher education to assemble the best possible set of preK-12 learning standards for the children in Manchester's public schools. Now that the standards are complete and fully approved by the Board of School Committee, educators in the district are looking through current curriculum documents to ensure that the new standards are being met. This crosswalk process includes revising curriculum, devising new units of study, and creating assessments that measure both student learning and curriculum alignment.


The revision and outright development of curriculum and subsequent curriculum units of study will illustrate how students will practice mastery of the standards as well as describe the assessments that will be used to measure students' mastery. Materials and resources will be procured to support instruction to the standards and innovative instructional strategies will be shared and/or introduced.


The school district will utilize several pieces of data to best inform the success or challenges of the standards and curriculum. A local assessments calendar has already been developed with September and October's common assessments in place. Math coaches, literacy coaches and teachers working with coaches/consultants from the state's Department of Education will continue to develop the remaining assessments for the academic year. These assessments will generate the data needed to identify how well students are learning, what standards need to be addressed more or less, and what lessons are working for students and those that are not.


The Manchester Academic Standards can be found on the district's web site. The local assessment calendar continues to be developed by the assessment team and will be available for publication shortly.

Beech Street celebrates the Year of the Book
Literacy grant will provide thousands of books and programs

Beech Street Elementary School is one of four schools in the state to be awarded a $25,000 grant to promote literacy. The Year of the Book grant is provided by the Children's Literacy Foundation (CLiF), which delivers the resources to inspire a love of reading and writing among children throughout New Hampshire and Vermont.

The founder of CLiF, Duncan McDougall, presented the Year of the Book award to Beech Street School today and announced some of the special programs that are planned. Each of Beech Street's nearly 600 students received one free book today and will get another to take home every month through June 2015. 

In addition to giving new books to students, the one-year partnership between CLiF and Beech Street will include author/illustrator visits, multi-day writing workshops, and storytelling presentations. Grant money also will provide custom-designed and professionally printed literacy posters, a color printer, and expenses related to a student author day reception later this school year.

Openings available in Educator Leadership Class of 2015
Program begins October 15

Revisions to the format of the 2014-15 Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce Educator Leadership program are making it more accessible to MSD staff who wish to participate. 

Each session focuses on a new industry with presentations by business leaders through lectures and discussions during on-site visits. A total of seven sessions will be held from 3:30-5:45 p.m. in October, November, January, February, March, April and May. 

The tuition for each participant is $250. Tuition is due from participants by October 10, 2014, payable to the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce. Educator Leadership tuition is reimbursable by the Manchester School District upon completion of the program through professional development funds.

Learn more about Educator Leadership on the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce web site, apply online, or contact Tammy Boucher with questions at or 603.792.4110.

MSD's own Teacher of the Year finalist 
Congratulations to Manchester High School West social studies teacher Tina Mulleavey, who was named a finalist for 2015 New Hampshire Teacher of the Year! 

The selection process is a rigorous one. Having been nominated in February, Tina was honored in April with 33 other nominees from around the state by the NH Department of Education. She then was selected as one of seven semi-finalists, and representatives from the Teacher of the Year committee visited Tina's classroom last month to observe and interview her, her students and colleagues. 

There are several more steps to go before the 2015 New Hampshire Teacher of the Year is named in September. That person is eligible to be named 2015 National Teacher of the Year next spring.
Good luck, Tina!

Student Spotlight
The following is excerpted from West High School junior Karina Ithier's address at the opening day rally for teachers 

Teacher. One word, seven letters. A number of lives changed. Tomorrow is the day that students will enter your schools, Manchester, expecting that you will motivate them to transform into the people that they would like to become. Tomorrow is also the day that students will realize that the future lies not only in their hands, but in your hands too.


Many people have asked me the question, "What do you want to be when you grow up, Karina?" This always took some thought, because I realized I didn't really know. I was not exceptionally good at anything, and after all, wasn't that the purpose of choosing your career -- choosing it because people thought that you were the best at it? I found out that this is not true at all. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Because of teachers, I became aware that anything is possible, and that anyone has the ability to make a difference and pursue their dreams, whether they are the best or not. Teachers are the ones who support me, who inspire me, and who guide me to feeling confident in who I am as an individual.


All students are different, as you know. We learn differently and at different paces, we have different perspectives on what we learned, and we have a range of different talents and strengths. Despite this, we all share one thing in common. We all want someone to believe in us and to give us the resources to succeed. How many more engineers, mathematicians, artists, historians, doctors, writers, sport athletes, and scientists do you think we would have in America today if people truly believed in themselves? You have the power to do this. 


Some of the best teachers that I have had not only taught me what I was required to learn, but they also taught me how to learn, and how to believe in my ideas. Trust is a big thing in learning. As a student, I know that if my teacher does not trust in my abilities, I will never trust myself to endure those greater challenges that I will be faced with.


The word challenge seems daunting to many students. But a challenge does not mean unattainable. A challenge to me is simply a reason to work harder, and to prove to people you can adapt to change to become a better individual and a better learner. Challenges lead to discovery, and we as students need you to let us realize that we can always improve -- that anything is possible, and that we have the ability to make a difference -- whether we are the best or not.  


We need you to focus our individual learning needs every day in the classroom. We need you to realize that we count on you to get us prepared for the future. We need you to believe that we can graduate, even if we will be the first in our families to do so. Every day, you are the ones who encourage us and make us realize that we are getting closer to our dreams. And when we as students take on these challenges, we will make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes, after all, or else we would learn nothing. But that is why we rely on you to help explain to us what we did wrong and teach us what we can improve on. When we hear feedback, we will listen. 


Just as we as students should never give up on your class, you should never give up on us.  Even if a student is not willing to learn, you have the gift to change minds, because you are our motivators and our supporting audience. I believe that anyone can learn, that anyone can truly define their passion and live it if they are challenged to do so. This is why you are so important. 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. Regardless of our race, regardless of our GPA or level, our skin color, or our language. . .Manchester School District: We need you to give us a challenge and to get us prepared for the future that lies ahead of us.


Tomorrow is the day that students will enter your schools. Tomorrow is the beginning of change, the beginning of a new class of individuals who want to be prepared for their future. We students are up for this year's challenge. Are you?

Protocol for Parents
Who do you contact if you have a question or concern about your child's school or education?

First, speak with your child's teacher, counselor or person directly involved with the concern. The teacher knows your child best.

If the teacher is unable to assist you, call the principal of the school and make an appointment to speak with him or her.

If you feel you need additional help handling your situation, call the superintendent at the school district office at 624-6300.

Chat with your colleagues  
Arthur Adamakos, principal of 
Memorial High School

Everyone who knows Arthur knows he likes to talk, and he's certainly outspoken! But we bet there are a few things about him you didn't know. Read on.

What's the most fun you've had this summer? 
Visiting my good friend Jim Crawford in Phoenix. He was a math teacher at Memorial for 40 years (1964-2004) and moved west to escape the weather. The coldest day of the week out in AZ was 104 degrees. Some say "Oh, but it's a dry heat." Ha! Hot is hot!

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? 
I wanted to be a lawyer but after working in a law office while in college, I became sick of listening to people lying to get out of trouble and avoiding local law enforcement. What an ironic course of events. 

Who did you look up to most when you were growing up? 
My father, because he shaped my personality and he was taller than me (at the time).

What grade in school did a teacher have the most positive impact on you? 
1st Grade, Miss Spaulding at Fairgrounds Elementary School, Nashua, NH. She was nice, fun and a good teacher. Everbody after her was second.

Name three songs on your iPod's "Recently Played" list. 
Happy by Pharrell Williams, anything by Matchbox Twenty, and anything by Train.

What's the last book you read? Was it good enough to recommend? 
I have read several books this summer including "Think Like a Freak" by the men who wrote "Freakonomics," a book that teaches the complex art of interpreting data correctly, and "Real Talk for Real Teachers" by Rafe Esquith, a book that every teacher should read before the start of any school year.

Do you have a favorite vacation spot? 
Any place temporarily away from 03103.

Board of School Committee
Contact information for members of the BOSC is available here and online.

Mayor Ted Gatsas
City Hall, 3rd Floor
(603) 624-6500

105 Birchwood Road, 03104
(603) 668-1233
At-Large, Vice Chairman
Dave Wihby
540 Kearney Circle, 03104
(603) 623-3610

Ward 1
Sarah Ambrogi
544 North Adams St., 03104
(603) 624-3758
Ward 2
Debra Gagnon Langton
170 Birchwood Rd., 03104
(603) 669-8338

Ward 3
Christopher Stewart
1200 Elm Street #702, 03101
(603) 391-9041
Ward 4
Amy Bradley
895 Bridge St., 03104
(603) 315-1597

Ward 5
Ted Rokas
393 Wilson Street, 03103
(603) 620-2228
Ward 6
Robyn Dunphy
72 Independence Lane, 03109
(603) 275-0533

Ward 7
Ross Terrio
130 S Cypress St., 03103
(603) 641-6064
Ward 8
Erika Connors
510 Corning Road, 03109
(603) 669-9414

Ward 9
Arthur Beaudry
30 Bow St., 03103
(603) 622-3955

Ward 10
John Avard
81 A St., 03102
(603) 623-2800
Ward 11
Katie Desrochers
466 Bartlett St. #3, 03102
(603) 203-1507
Ward 12
Connie Van Houten
11 Carriage Way #4, 03102
(603) 622-9701
Kathy Staub
374 Laurel Street, 03103
(603) 624-0249

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"Learning never exhausts the mind."

- Leonardo da Vinci