Dear Friends and Colleagues:
Before we begin with our regular news digest, we’d like to take a moment to reflect and remember those who have been affected by mass shootings nationwide. The tragedy in Uvalde, Texas, where 19 children and 2 teachers lost their lives, and dozens of others were injured, has renewed conversations around school safety, mental health, and what we can do to protect our children, our teachers, and our communities. To learn more about school-based violence, visit www.sandyhookpromise.org/say-something
And now, on with our news digest.
Many of us never outgrow the excitement that builds as we cross off the days in June. For some educators reading this, however, that excitement is undoubtedly tinged with sadness as you bid farewell not just to your students but perhaps to your school or even to the teaching profession.
This month, Reaching Higher is collecting information on educators and school staff who are changing positions or school districts, leaving the state, or leaving the profession altogether through our NH Educators Transition Survey. Conducted in partnership with over 15 professional education associations, the survey will inform statewide conversations around educator and school staff transitions and retention, including a proposed legislative study committee that is expected to begin its work later this year.
The survey will close on June 24, 2022. If you’re an educator or school staff member who is changing positions or career paths, please take a moment to complete the survey, and please help us get the word out by sharing it with other educators.
Along with the end of the school year, this month brings us to the end of another eventful legislative session. Read on for policy updates, stories, summer reading recommendations, and more.
Join the New Hampshire Education Network (NHEN) on Monday, June 13, for a webinar on food security and changes in programming for New Hampshire’s students and families. We’ll be joined by Jessica Gorhan, Deputy Director at NH Hunger Solutions, to talk about changes in federal and state programming, opportunities for ensuring children have access to healthy food, and what these programs mean for school funding. The webinar is free and open to the public, but registration is required.
What’s Next for Child Nutrition Programs in NH, and What That Means for Public Schools
Monday, June 13, 4-5 p.m.
Reaching Higher will also be participating in a webinar hosted by the NH Fiscal Policy Institute on Thursday, June 9. The webinar is also free and open to the public, but registration is required.
Leveraging COVID-19 Relief Funds to Support an Equitable and Inclusive Recovery, hosted by NH Fiscal Policy Institute
Thursday, June 9, 11 am – 12 pm
New Hampshire has a unique and unprecedented opportunity to invest in both a robust economic recovery and in the long-term health and economic outcomes of all Granite Staters. The State’s flexible COVID-19 recovery funds, granted through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), can be used to provide direct aid to residents as well as to support the state, county, and municipal government services.
Join us on June 9 at 11 AM as we explore the potential opportunities the State has to deploy these flexible federal funds to support New Hampshire’s workforce, residents, and economy through three key policy areas: housing, caregiving, and education.
Presenter and Moderator:
Phil Sletten, Senior Policy Analyst, NHFPI
Elissa Margolin, Director, Housing Action New Hampshire
Rebecca Woitkowski, Kids Count Policy Director, New Futures Kids Count
Christina Pretorius, Director of Policy, Reaching Higher New Hampshire
Spotlight on Strong School Communities
As the 2021-22 school year comes to a close, the concept of community continues to represent a defining theme.
With just 38 students in grades K-6, Freedom Elementary School is about 1/10th the size of the average New Hampshire school. The school is embracing the benefits of its small size by building a strong school community that extends beyond its walls. Read our full story here.
On the other side of the state, at NH’s largest school district, community bonds are also critical. Last month, longtime Manchester educator and interim superintendent Jennifer Gillis was appointed superintendent of the Manchester School District. Manchester School Board members said they chose Gillis because the community wanted someone who was well acquainted with the city and its needs.
Gillis has “a deep understanding of our community … and a strong commitment to ensuring all of our students have access to a quality education,” Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig said in a statement.
Community connections played a role in the annual Excellence in Education Awards (EDies) this year as well. The Henniker Community School, one of four schools to earn the distinction of 2022 NH Schools of Excellence, was selected in part for its deeply-rooted community spirit.
“The faculty, staff, and community are dedicated to taking care of students and each other,” SAU 24 Superintendent Jacqueline Coe said in a statement released by the school.
Though we often focus on how schools serve their communities, the relationship should go both ways, Deborah Delisle, former assistant secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education under Pres. Barack Obama, writes in a piece published in the Hechinger Report this spring. “We need a cadre of caring adults – tutors, mentors, classroom parents, and community partnership volunteers – to help lift the burden from the shoulders of our overworked educators and support staff,” she writes. “Step up, America, and demonstrate our belief that schools are central to our future.”
Two Community Colleges piloting ‘Second Chance Pell’ program for prisons
Two NH Community Colleges, NHTI and White Mountains Community College, have been chosen as experimental sites to utilize Pell grants to support educating incarcerated individuals. The program, which will be conducted in partnership with the New Hampshire Department of Corrections, aims to reduce recidivism, support individuals transitioning out of prison, and address the state’s workforce challenges.
“Creating opportunities for people to develop their talents and abilities and enabling them to contribute to their community and this state is central to the work that we do at NHTI, WMCC and across the entire Community College System of New Hampshire,” Mark Rubinstein, Chancellor of CCSNH, said in a statement. “This is an essential part of fulfilling our own mission to the communities that we serve.”
Beginning in the fall, NHTI will offer programs in advanced manufacturing, medical coding, hospitality, and tourism to incarcerated men and women at the NH State Prison for Men in Concord and the New Hampshire Correctional Facility for Women in Concord. WMCC will offer programs in business administration and liberal arts for incarcerated individuals at the Northern New Hampshire Correctional Facility in Berlin.
Support NH schools by supporting Reaching Higher during NH Gives
NH Gives begins tomorrow! We’d be thrilled if you’d commit to supporting us during the 2022 NH Gives Campaign on June 7 and 8. Visit our NH Gives page to make a tax-deductible donation.
As a subscriber to our newsletter, you know the value of public education in shaping young lives and sustaining strong communities. By donating to Reaching Higher during NH Gives, you can help fuel the critical work we do to support NH’s public schools. Over the past year, we have:
- Monitored hundreds of legislative proposals, offering timely updates and highlighting opportunities to get involved.
- Provided lawmakers, the media, and the public with valuable research, data, and analysis on key policy developments affecting education.
- Convened supporters of public education to discuss critical issues affecting NH’s schools.
- Visited numerous schools and interviewed dozens of educators to learn about innovations and best practices and highlight these positive stories for our growing audience.
- Formed and strengthened relationships with individuals and organizations around the state to form and articulate a shared vision of high-quality, equitable public schools and strong career pathways.
Thank you for helping us ensure every child has access to a high-quality public education.
How One Principal Has Dodged the Staffing Shortage
Education Week, Denisa Superville, May 13, 2022
Neurodiversity Belongs in Higher Education
Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, Liann Herder, May 19, 2022
State Policy Levers to Address Teacher Shortages
Education Commission of the States, Cassidy Francies and Tiffany McDole, June 1, 2022
‘Something Terrible Happened Today: Parents on Telling Their Kids About Uvalde
New York Times, Jessica Grose, Rachel L. Harris and Lisa Tarchak, May 26, 2022
Teens fight for the right to read with ‘banned book clubs’ and lawsuits
The Washington Post, Hannah Natanson, May 3, 2022
‘Who Will Clean Out The Desks’ — A crowdsourced poem in praise of teachers
NPR: Morning Edition, Rachel Martin, May 31, 2022