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Three North Country teachers earn Louise Tillotson Fellowships

July 03, 2020
REGION — In recognition of their creativity, commitment to ongoing professional development, and extraordinary dedication to students, three North Country educators have been awarded 2020 Louise Tillotson Teaching Fellowships by the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation. This is the 13th year of the fellowship program, which aims to retain good teachers in public schools in the North Country and recognize excellence in teaching.

This year's awardees are Keri Wade of Gorham Middle High School, Erica Hicks of White Mountains Regional High School and Patti Dugan-Henriksen of Groveton High School.

These educators, along with their peers, have faced the exceptional challenge of quickly transitioning to teaching remotely for the last three months of the school year, as the COVID-19 pandemic closed schools throughout New Hampshire and the country.

"These challenging times have brought into sharp relief the incredible work that teachers do for our communities and our children every day," said Jean Clarke, who administers the fellowship program at the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation. "The Louise Tillotson Fellowship committee is thrilled to recognize the outstanding and innovative work of these educators who have committed themselves to the students and families of the North Country."

Awardees are selected each spring by a committee of past fellowship recipients, and each receives a $10,000 stipend.

"I am extremely excited and humbled to receive such a wonderful honor," said Wade, who teaches science at Gorham Middle High School. "It means a lot to be recognized for many years of hard work and dedication. It is wonderful to be recognized by a group of your peers."

Wade, who began her career in the fields of nursing and field biology, has been teaching since 1999 and has been at Gorham Middle High School since 2008. Her students call her classroom "Wade's World," and she describes her teaching style as hands-on, with lessons individualized so students may work at a pace that is simultaneously comfortable and exciting.

Figuring out how to reach students at all levels has been paramount to Hicks' teaching career, which began in 1998 at White Mountains Regional High School when she stepped in mid-year to fill a mathematics teaching vacancy. Although she'd studied psychology in college, not education, Hicks quickly fell in love with teaching.

"Being a part of shaping the lives of our youth is extremely rewarding and exciting," she said. "The biggest challenge I've faced as an educator is trying to get students to believe in themselves as much as I do. My goal is for students to celebrate small steps so they can eventually turn into large strides."

Hicks has worked with a colleague in the science department to develop a new course — Math/Science 1 — that meshes both subjects, allowing students to learn math skills through science content, demonstrating the usefulness of mathematics in real-world situations. But her teaching goes beyond mathematical concepts.

Dugan-Henriksen, who teaches middle school science in Groveton, has embraced the idea that not all learning happens in the classroom and has worked to provide her students with opportunities to learn both through in-school projects and citizen-science endeavors in partnership with groups like New Hampshire Fish and Game and the Appalachian Mountain Club's A Mountain Classroom. She also serves as the on-site coordinator at Groveton Elementary School for the White Mountain Science (WMSi) STEM-Works Lab.

"I love to see the look on a student's face when they suddenly 'get it' or when a student talks about science and is passionate about it," Dugan-Henriksen said. "I want to help students realize that they have the chance to be whatever they want to be, wherever they are or wherever they want to travel, and despite the many challenges some of them face. I want them to realize that determination and hard work, as well as a sense of humor, will take them far in life."

The New Hampshire Charitable Foundation is New Hampshire's statewide community foundation, founded in 1962 by and for the people of New Hampshire. The Foundation manages a growing collection of 2,000 funds created by generous individuals, families and businesses, and awards $40 million in grants and $6 million in scholarships every year. The Foundation works with generous and visionary citizens to maximize the power of their giving, supports great work happening in our communities and leads and collaborates on high-impact initiatives. Visit www.nhcf.org to learn more.

Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
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