NH Education News Digest, September 2022

Dear Friends and Colleagues: 

Welcome to the 2022-23 school year! Whatever your connection to public education, we hope you’ve had a restorative summer and are ready to take on the adventures and challenges that await. We’re truly thrilled to be a trusted source of information and resources for so many educators, decision makers, and community members, and we feel a little like students waiting at the bus stop – eager to dig into another year of work. It’s the students, in fact, who keep us centered on our work, as our Public Policy Researcher, Kayla Provencher, explains in the first installment of a Q&A feature we’ll be running throughout this year. This month’s newsletter also provides some important news updates on issues that will impact students and highlights some terrific resources to set the tone for a student-centered approach to learning. Want more? Visit our newsletter archives to catch up on news you may have missed, follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay informed, and join the New Hampshire Education Network to be part of the dialogue around public education.

Thank you for reading and for supporting our schools and students, 

The Reaching Higher NH team

Back-to-School Resources

Unlocking the “how”: Designing family engagement strategies that lead to school successLearning Heroes

Prioritizing family-educator relationships grounded in trust and teamwork is a fundamental strategy in the equitable delivery of a high-quality education. This report offers a set of concrete recommendations for building a comprehensive strategy that directly impacts student learning and well-being.

Download the report >>

Welcoming Immigrant Students in SchoolIntercultural Development Research Association

All children, by law, are guaranteed access to free public education. This infographic is a resource for schools and advocates and explains what schools can do to be welcoming for all students and families, especially immigrant students. The infographic is available in English and in Spanish. 

Download the infographic >>

Educating the Whole Child: Improving School Climate to Support Student SuccessLearning Policy Institute

This report looks at a broad body of neuroscience, science of learning, and child development science to examine how schools can use effective, research-based practices to create settings in which students’ healthy growth and development are central to the design of classrooms and the school as a whole. These approaches can help children overcome toxic stress and trauma, including stereotype threats that undermine achievement.

Download the report >>

NOAA Sea to Sky: Education resource database, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

This new classroom tool includes more than 1,200 educational resources covering topics related to the ocean, climate, weather, and natural disasters. 

Visit the database >>

For New Teachers, 6 Principles to Remember This YearEdutopia

“It won’t be easy, but if you prepare for turbulence and set reasonable goals, you’ll stay calmer and make progress,” say authors Stephen Merrill and Sarah Gonser.

Read the article >>

Back to School Checklist for Parents, U.S. Department of Education

This resource is designed to help parents engage with schools about their use of American Rescue Plan funds. It explains spending requirements, options, and common priorities and includes examples of how schools around the country are using the funds to support academics, mental health, teacher retention, and health and safety. 

View the checklist >>

How to Build Inclusive ClassroomsEducation Week

This compilation of articles includes advice for supporting students with learning differences, effectively co-teaching, promoting an assets-based mentality, and more.

Explore the articles >>


Free lunch for all students expires this year — Families will once again be required to fill out eligibility paperwork in order to receive free and reduced-price meals through the federal school meal program this school year. In response to the pandemic, the federal government granted, then extended, a waiver to the eligibility paperwork, allowing schools to provide free lunch to all students, regardless of income. This waiver, while vital to meeting students’ needs, also presented budgeting challenges, since schools receive adequacy funding based on participation in the program. Now that the waiver has expired, it is critical that families fill out school lunch paperwork to ensure schools can feed all eligible students as well as receive the appropriate amount of state funding. 

New proposed minimum standards could remove student protections, advance ‘unbundling’ of education — draft document obtained by Reaching Higher NH indicates that the state is considering sweeping changes to New Hampshire’s Minimum Standards for Public School Approval (Ed 306 Administrative Rules). The document includes changes to state requirements around school climate and code of discipline, locally developed competencies, and program elements, and changes to definitions and terminology that could clear a pathway to broaden what classifies as a “public school.”

This draft document was recently sent to four New Hampshire education professional associations for feedback, following a year and a half of work by the National Center for Competency-Based Learning (NCCBL) and a nine-member task force. Until this point, there has been no opportunity for broad public input.

Reaching Higher has identified several areas of concern, including language around equity and student protections, the removal of references to locally developed graduation competencies, the addition of Personal Learning Plans without guidance or support in implementing them, and changes in terminology that open the door to “unbundling” K-12 public education. 

Download a copy of the proposed revisions, and watch Reaching Higher NH’s webinar on our key findings

The draft rules are expected to be presented to the State Board of Education in the fall. RHNH will publish opportunities for feedback as soon as they are announced, and will release more information and analysis in the coming weeks. To stay informed, sign up for our New Hampshire Education Network (NHEN) and follow us on social media. 

Spotlight on ‘Hyperlocal Pathways’

“If we can let these high schoolers see what we do and how we do it and give them that knowledge, we hope that plants the seed.” – Salem Police Chief Joel Dolan 

“Hyperlocal pathways” are taking root across the state, from Salem, to Concord, to the North Country. With funding from the NH Charitable Foundation, high schools are building programs that bring together students, community partners, and higher education to create opportunities for students to earn college credit while getting real-world experience. Read more >>
Caption: Haylee Jerry and Katherine Kennedy, students at Concord Regional Technical Center, practice casting at NHTI. Courtesy photo.

Meet our Team

In the first installment of a year-long series introducing you to our team, Kayla Provencher, Reaching Higher’s Public Policy Researcher, talks about her own experiences as a student and her passion for bridging education policy to the people most affected by it. 

“I grew up in a small town in New Hampshire and attended high school in a city and I first-hand saw some of the different ways funding impacts a student’s experience. …The fact that I was able to shift from one small district to a large city gave me an important perspective that I think really showcased some of the funding issues that we have in this state.”

Read the Q&A here, and listen to the full interview here

2023 NH Teacher of the Year finalists announced

The New Hampshire Department of Education has announced the following four finalists for 2023 New Hampshire Teacher of the Year: 

  • Susan Bradford, third grade, James Mastricola Elementary School, Merrimack
  • Christian Cheetham, ninth through twelfth grades, Alvirne High School, Hudson
  • Jennifer MacLeod, eighth grade, Hollis Brookline Middle School, Hollis
  • Curt McDermott, ninth through twelfth grade, Goffstown High School, Goffstown

More than 120 educators were nominated for the title this year – the highest number yet. The selection committee will visit each finalist in their classroom in late September, with a final recipient selected by Oct.1.

OPINION: Why ‘test-optional’ admissions are not a game-changer for equity after all
Awilda Rodriguez and Sayil Camacho, The Hechinger Report, July 13, 2022

A Relationship-Driven Strategy for Addressing Challenging Behavior
Laura Wheeler, Edutopia, August 19, 2022

5 Ways States Can Improve Reporting on Student Access to Effective Teachers
Shayna Levitan, Education Commission of the States, July 27, 2022

This nonprofit is working to get more women’s perspectives into history class
Sarah Gibson, New Hampshire Public Radio, August 17, 2022