Taking Drastic Steps for Teacher Recruitment

I recently attended the ASCD Empower18 national conference in Boston and was surprised to see in an overwhelming sea of booths in the vendor area that a brave rural New Hampshire school district from the western part of the state had set up shop in an effort to recruit educators to their schools. I stopped by to ask them how the process was working out for them and they were very optimistic. Already in the second day of the conference, they had collected a large number of applications, conducted mini interviews, and had already set up follow-up meetings with a number of prospective candidates. For this rural district, attracting educators from far away is their best strategy because their part of the state has seen a decline in population and an exodus of skilled workers leaving the region to seek employment in other parts of the state or country where wages are often higher and housing is more affordable and/or available.  This district, like many across the country, is struggling to…

Solving The Opioid Crisis By Empowering Students

As a principal in a small suburban New Hampshire community, I am starting to lose count of the number of funeral services that I have attended for students and former students from my high school community. The emotional toll weighs heavy on the hearts and minds of students, parents, teachers, and community leaders as we struggle to come to grips with what has become an opioid epidemic across our country. The statistics tell the grim story for our community. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, opioids played a part in 42,249 deaths in our country, a statistic that is five times higher than what it was in 1999. In 2016, New Hampshire had one of the highest national opioid death due to overdose rates, a whopping 39 per 100,000 people. For a state with roughly 1.3 million residents and fewer than 100 high schools, this means that virtually every school community has, in some way, been impacted by this epidemic.
Last month, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen vis…

My Message to Parents in Prom Night

Prom night is the night that every high school principal dreads. When I leave DiBurro’s Function Hall on Saturday night at 11PM, I will be a miserable wreck until the next morning. Each year, on prom night, I pray that I won’t get a call from a police officer letting me know that something tragic has happened to one of our students as a result of a poor decision made on prom night.

Parents, I urge you to make sure you know where your children are after they leave the prom venue. Call them. Call them again. Call the adults of the homes are staying at for the night. Call them again. Bother them all night long with calls and text messages. If you are hosting a post-prom event for your child and his or her friends, make sure you have checked in with each of the kids at your gathering to be sure that they have connected with their parents. On prom night, we are all the parents for all of the children in our community. Let’s all have a safe prom night.
On Saturday, May 12th, Sanborn Regional …

The Daily Teacher Struggle When Faced With Declining Wages

It is starting to become the norm for teachers to seek out other forms of income to make up lost ground from low teacher salaries that plague many schools from coast to coast. In this Multibriefs Exclusive from 2016, I highlighted the struggle that many of today’s teachers face and what they are doing to try to make up for lost income in other ways. I also explored the solutions that some communities are implementing in an effort to address the teacher pay dilemma. In this Multibriefs Exclusive just over a year ago, I wrote about the real costs of being a teacher, detailing how teachers try to stretch their supply budgets for their classrooms and avoid the inevitable fate that they will need to spend their own money to purchase the classroom supplies that their students need. This struggle is real, and a year later, there seems to be no end in site in the downward trend of teacher salaries across the country and their lasting impact on our profession.
According to this report by the …

Eliminating Grade Levels

In a recent EdSurge article, writer Felice Hybert introduces the notion of eliminating grade levels in an effort to better connect classes to careers. Hybert highlighted work in the Kankakee Public Schools in Illinois where elementary students are introduced to a number of career pathways in an effort to start conversations and explorations around career possibilities. By high school, students are engaged in a college and career academy that is project-based. Efforts are now underway to transform these high schools into competency-based models.
In New Hampshire, a movement called NG2: No Grades, No Grades - Personalized Inclusive Education Pathways Through Multiage Competency-Based Education has been paving the way for many New Hampshire schools at the elementary level to develop move when ready systems and eliminate grade levels. The focus of NG2 work is on co-teaching, project-based learning, and equity. The common denominator in the work happening in both Illinois and New Hampshir…

Finding Your Path Toward Competency-Based Learning

Imagine trying to go somewhere for the first time without having access to a map. Worse yet, imagine being the great explorers Lewis and Clark who crossed the western part of our country for the first time in 1804 with no map, no roads, and little knowledge of what it was going to take to get to their destination. In education like in many fields, early adopters often feel like trail-blazers too; using research, trends, and sometimes their guts to forge new ways of thinking and doing. If you are a school leader looking to move your school to competency-based learning today, you may feel a daunting sense of helplessness as you embark on your journey. The good news is that many have come before you and have contributed to the maps that you can use to guide your own journey.
Nearly a decade ago, I, along with other educational leaders, felt like Lewis and Clark as we each embarked on journeys to transform our schools with systems that would later come to be known as competency-based learn…

Embedding Community Service Into Schools

At my New Hampshire High School, we have a community service tradition that all of our seniors participate in called the “Senior Day of Caring.” During this one day in early fall, our seniors sign up in groups or as individuals to engage in any number of community service activities that have been identified in our community. Some of our seniors return to their elementary schools to help out in classrooms for the day. Others head to the public library to help them with a big project. Some go to the local senior citizen center to help residents with light cleaning, painting, moving, or other similar projects. Others help community members with light housework or yard work. This tradition, which has persisted in my school community for the better part of two decades, often leaves our students hearts filled with love and a hunger to do more, at least that is what we hope.
Last month, four of my female students took it upon themselves to plan what became a school-sponsored humanitarian t…