Gov. Maggie Hassan, center, visited Berlin's Hillside School on Feb. 14 where she was welcomed by middle school principal Dan Record, Hillside principal Julie King, SAU #3 Supt. Corinne Cascadden, and accompanied by former Sen. John Gallus of Berlin, Sen. Jeff Woodburn of Dalton, and Rep. Wayne Moynihan of Dummer. Photo by Edith Tucker. (click for larger version)
February 19, 2014BERLIN — Gov. Maggie Hassan visited the City's two elementary schools on Friday, Feb. 14, and found students who were engaged in learning and eager to answer her questions as well as very welcoming teachers, staff and administrators.
Her original schedule had called for her to visit the Milan Village School, but the snowy Nor'easter cancelled classes north of the City.
When word came that Gov. Hassan had unscheduled time in which to visit elementary school classes, SAU Superintendent Corinne Cascadden quickly set up a schedule in which she started at the Hillside School that serves grades 3 to 5 and then traveled to the Brown School that serves kindergarten to grade 2 in a venerable but well-maintained 101-year-old building.
In her recent State of the State address, Hassan said, "We need to come together as a state to ask tough questions about how we can best educate our young people, especially in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math. … For New Hampshire to lead the way in building a workforce that is prepared for the high-tech jobs of today and tomorrow, our schools need to provide an even more rigorous STEM education that our businesses believe in, our educators believe in, and our students and families believe in."
Hassan announced in that address that she would create a STEM Education Task Force made up of diverse stakeholders charged with making recommendations for modernizing STEM education in the state's public schools.
When the governor asked students in Joanne Murphy's fourth-grade classroom at Hillside what subject they liked best, the majority replied, "math." They were also able to answer her questions about "early settlements," the topic they were studying in "New Hampshire History," mandated in all fourth-grade classes.
They listened attentively as she explained what she does when she is in the State House and how touring the cities and towns of New Hampshire helps her understand citizens' hopes and needs for the future.
In each classroom she visited as well as in the Hillside cafeteria she talked with students about the importance of working together and asking for help when they needed it, as they prepare themselves for good jobs and fulfilling lives, preferably in the Granite State.
Administrators at the Brown School explained that SAU #3 is recommending a full-day kindergarten be started in 2014-2015. It looks as though only one additional teacher would have to be hired. A number of families in which at least one parent works at FCI-Berlin, who were attracted to living in the City because of the convenient commute have previously lived where all-day kindergarten is the norm.
Hassan also visited a fifth-grade class where she talked with students using classroom iPads.
Hassan was also accompanied by state Sen. Jeff Woodburn of Dalton, Rep. Wayne Moynihan of Dummer, and former state Sen. John Gallus of Berlin.