NO VACATION FOR WORKMEN. Jerry Moothart, Mike Pevine and Paul Benoit of Gemini Electric worked on the installation of electrical lines on the first floor of the Kingswood Middle School during the school vacation week. Students will return to renovated classrooms next week. (Elissa Paquette photo) (click for larger version)
December 29, 2011WOLFEBORO — What constitutes a year of progress within a school district is a four-part equation of which the pieces are easily identified: One part is determined students; one part hard working staff; one part dedicated administration and school board; and one part supportive community. And like so many prior years, in 2011 the Governor Wentworth Regional School district filled each quarter 110 percent.
You don't have to have a child in the district to hear about the many talented and wonderful things its students are doing year-round. Individual achievements are a daily occurrence throughout its eight schools and come in a plethora of forms. From spelling bees, to plays and concerts, to sports, to academic goals, these students seem to be limitless in what they can do.
At the high school level alone each month at the school board meeting Matthew Lounsbury, the Student Representative to the School Board, reads from a long list he's accumulated of student bests, awards won and recognitions earned. And, he himself is a great example student accomplishment. Like so many of his peers he himself is multi-talented and works hard at a number of activities. In addition to being the student representative, he recently played the male lead in the school's production of the musical "Grease" and stars on the varsity boy's basketball team, all while maintaining his spot on the honor roll. And this is probably just scratching the surface of all that he's involved in and excels at.
Over the past year the students in the district have proven to be a diverse, talented and unbeatable bunch.
If it were not for the combined efforts of the staff, teachers, administration and school board however, the students would be at a loss. These are the individuals who continue to dedicate themselves each day to each pupil's well-being and educational growth. Via a complex network of focus groups and meetings, presentations and workshops, these people are on an endless quest to better the district on a whole. Developing new curriculum, enhancing instruction, investigating alternatives to improve programs, keeping the buildings clean and safe, and encouraging active lifestyles are just a few of the ways the students benefit from all that they do. From what is witnessed within the schools and at school board meetings it is noticeable that the students' best interest is always a priority.
It shouldn't be forgotten that it was in a time of need that the administration and teachers agreed to donate five days of work to offset the employee retirement expenses incurred by the district.
"One challenge that the District faced this year," explained Assistant Superintendent Kathy Cuddy-Egbert, "was the shifting of the cost of employee retirement from the state to the local level."
Since the change was made after the school district budget was established and voted on she said, "the teachers agreed to donate five days of work with the understanding that, if the money were available, the District would pay as many of those days as possible by the end of the year." Administrators, for the second consecutive year donated five days of work as well. These measures were taken in order to prevent layoffs.
Cuddy-Egbert also highlighted a few administrative changes that occurred in 2011.
"This past year Barbara Reed, Principal of New Durham School, retired after 18 years of dedicated and successful service to the school and community."
Fortunately for the district however, "experienced principal, Lisa Tremblay, the former principal at Effingham School was interested in the position and she assumed the role in September."
The district was also fortunate to hire Kelly Colby-Seavey, also a District employee, with special education administrative experience, to fill the position of half-time principal and half-time Diagnostic Prescriptive Teacher in Effingham.
"Both principals are strong positive forces in the District," commented Cuddy-Egbert.
Another integral component to Governor Wentworth Regional School District's success is a supportive community. It's the parents, the employers, and the taxpayers, who believe in the district's integrity and support its goals and principles that help make it a functioning entity. With the help of some local businesses the high school is able to have a school-to-work program where students learn a job-set in the working environment. Because of local business and individual support monies earned from fundraisers have given students opportunities that wouldn't otherwise be available to them and of course it's because of the district's many, many volunteers that the school can run so smoothly.
In recent past it was also the community which ultimately voted to support the renovation and expansion project currently being done at the Kingswood complex.
The most visual confirmation of progress over the year, it's safe to say the building project work continues to amaze as it nears completion in 2012.
During the summer months "the transformation in all three schools involved in the project was astonishing," said Cuddy-Egbert.
However, because unexpected renovation challenges presented themselves both the middle school and high school opened nine days later than scheduled.
Regardless, Superintendent Jack Robertson is happy with the way the project has been carried out so far.
"Renovating a school with students and staff in it is not much different than renovating your home while you continue to live in it. There are many inconveniences which the occupants must endure. I am very proud of the way in which our students, staff and parents have handled the disruptions and allowed all of our programs to continue in a reasonably normal manner. In a world where an attitude of entitlement has all too often become the norm, it was refreshing to witness so many people acting in such a selfless and helpful fashion. The experience has been a perfect follow-up to the generosity shown by local citizens in their support of this project."
In addition to the building project Crescent Lake School erected a new playground this year with the support of the PTO.
In 2011 great strides were taken regarding the use of technology within the district.
Through grant funding the district was able to obtain interactive whiteboards, document cameras and a number of iPads for each school. These devices have helped teachers by making educational applications readily available and allow access to a multitude of books.
The district recently conducted a survey regarding the feasibility of using Blizzard Bags during snow days. In lieu of having to make up a snow day on a Saturday or during a vacation week Blizzard Bags would allow online instruction that could count as a full day at school given a certain percent of students participate.
Having determined that the vast majority of students and teachers have access to the Internet from the survey results the administration will take the next step of designing online lessons for k-12 students.
Throughout all of the schools more information and services are provided for parents electronically. Programs such as PowerSchool, which is now being utilized at all the schools, and InfoSnap, allow parents access to their student's grades and simplify the registration process at the beginning of each school year. MyLunchMoney.com was also implemented this year making paying for student lunches and regulating balances more convenient.
Because there have been so many great things happening within the district next week's Granite State News will feature an article on the district's initiatives and academic accomplishments and changes that occurred in 2011.