• Brown4Education

This article is part of a series of answers to questions submitted to by the Nashua, NH community leading to the up to the November 5, 2019 municipal election.

Teachers spend as much as 30 hours a week with our children, so we all want the best of the best in our schools. Experienced instructors have classroom management skills that can only be learned through practice. Good teachers have the flexibility to implement new curriculum models and the confidence to stand behind the programs that they know are successful. Hiring the most highly qualified teachers to work in the Nashua Public School System should be a top priority. Keeping them here is more than just offering competitive compensation. Teachers in this millennium are looking for work-life balance, they want to feel appreciated and secure in their positions, and they yearn for a personal connection to their school community.

Here are some introductory ways the Nashua School District needs to support the whole teacher:

1. Focus on Human Capital which transforms a classroom from a workspace into a community. We must fairly compensate our paraprofessionals and substitute teachers. Their pay should be commensurate with education and experience. Paraprofessional retention, performance reviews, and compensated continuing education should be an especially high priority in intensive needs situations.

2. Discipline. We must address to gaping holes in our disciplinary action plans in the Nashua Public Schools. Not only are our children unsafe and being distracted by repeated outbursts, but our teachers are dealing with behavior problems that are negatively impacting their work-life and even present situations for bodily injury. We need to be helping children learn coping skills and self-control in early childhood education. We need an enforceable discipline model for middle grades with clear consequences and administration follow-through. We need a way to track the behavior of repeat offenders so that we can evaluate their triggers, facilitate their rehabilitation and search for a modified environment to meet their behavioral and education needs while not disrupting the learning environment of the majority.

3. Facilitate an atmosphere of good communication and respect between teachers and school administration, and cultivate volunteer relationships with the community. I have spent over a decade working for non-profits (including Symphony NH, the Greater Nashua YMCA and the FECCN Board of Trustees). My communication skills would be better compensated in the private market; however, my heart may not be as full - so I have been willing to compromise. Everyone has a rough day at work now and then, but feeling intrinsically valued by your organization will keep you coming back each day.

I am proud to have the support of Nashua area teachers. As a former public school educator in a high needs school, I know what motivates good teachers. They are passionate about their subject matter and they want to share it with the next generation. They want to make connections and see light bulbs going on. We need to tap into that motivation to keep their passion in the Nashua school district.

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  • Brown4Education

This article is part of a series of answers to questions submitted to by the Nashua, NH community leading to the up to the November 5, 2019 municipal election.

I believe in parent rights.

We know what is best for our family. If you want to embrace opportunities for travel outside the typical school year break schedule; if your child has an academic need that cannot be met through the traditional education model; if you want to incorporate religious beliefs into your school day – homeschool or parochial school may be right for your family. However, that choice comes with a new level of responsibility to ensure that both families and schools are in compliance with New Hampshire State Code 193.1, et seq., 193-A, et seq., which says that students between the ages of 6 and 16 must have:

“Planned and supervised instructional and related educational activities including curriculum and instruction in science, math, language, government, history, health, reading, writing and spelling, history of U.S. and New Hampshire constitution and exposure to and appreciation of art and music; notification and evaluation…” (emphasis added)

That is A LOT of material to cover! Not to mention the necessity of whole child-centered education in this modern age when both parents are working more and kids are under so much competitive pressure to excel. In addition to learning information, they need an environment that supports: working with other people, time-management and organization, following directions, and developing the self-control needed to function in a civilized society. Teachers, parents, and law-makers have a massive responsibility to prepare our kids not only for global market success, but to follow us as the next generation of leadership here in Nashua.

As a member of the Nashua Board of Education, I will never act to take away a parent’s choice to homeschool or right to access information on student curriculum. As part of New Hampshire State Law, all children in every education model should be evaluated by developmentally appropriate standards to ensure that their wide breadth-of-study needs are being met. If they are falling behind in an area within their parental chosen path or if that environment is unequipped to meet learning needs, families may need to seek an alternative model. If there is a part of their curriculum that cannot be accommodated through home or private school program (for example: Band or Science Labs) those Nashua students should have access programs through their neighborhood school to help balance their education. Additionally, I think that is important to note that if the majority of their coursework comes from outside the neighborhood school – those students should not be eligible for school-wide commendations or awards.

Being a parent is not always easy. We have to make important choices on behalf of our growing children every day. This is why we need more parents of school-aged children represented on the Nashua School Board. People who have a current perspective on educational needs through regular involvement with the administration and staff, and people who are fully vested in our children. Let me represent your family in the upcoming election November 5, 2019.

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  • Brown4Education

Updated: Oct 27, 2019

This article is part of a series of answers to questions submitted to by the Nashua, NH community leading to the up to the November 5, 2019 municipal election.

Question 1: "What is your stance on bullying in the schools?"

Bullying is unacceptable behavior, but it especially disconcerting when it is repeated without consequence and escalates to violence.

With the exposure of recent events happening in Nashua, it is clear that the current action plans and policies are not protecting our students or our staff. There is little the Board of Education can do retroactively to rectify the damage. But there is hope - we can use these events as a catalyst for change. Here are a few things the Board of Education can do to move forward.

First, the Board is required to approve the disciplinary handbook recommended by the district office. We must have policies in place to stop events from escalating in the future and question policies that are passive in protecting our community. Our teachers and administrators need to be empowered with a clear procedure that allows them to remove intentional non-learners and repeat offenders from the classroom - safely and legally. Secondly, any new procedures will have to take into account the needs of both the bully and the victim. The injured party and the bystanders need to be safe, but the aggressors may also be victims themselves. We must work to find what triggers their negative behavior.  We cannot legally or ethically exclude a minor from a public education.  However, it is time to challenge state policies and funding for support of specialized staff training and alternative schools for repeat offenders and high risk students.

Thirdly, the Board of Education must vote to put the right leadership in place. Teachers need engaged and supportive administration so that the rules are clear and the chain of command flows appropriately. There must be a clear way to convey this chain of command to the parent community with well-documented action steps. And, the process should not be so grueling that parents lose hope and seek out alternate education options.

There are so many details involved in supporting safety in our schools that it can't be narrowed down to a single bullet point. We need to take input from experienced teachers and staff to make sure any new procedures are reasonable to implement. Then, evaluate the results and be prepared to make modifications when necessary.

One very important thing to remember is that this negative behavior is being displayed by a small percentage of our students. My own children have had a very positive experience with wonderful staff, administrators, and classmates throughout both their elementary and middle school careers. I want to make sure that the strong sense of community we feel extends throughout the city.  Our school system has so many positive things that make it shine: quality extracurricular programs, cultural diversity unique to our region of New Hampshire, dedicated teachers and administrators, and, now through this social media storm, we have positive evidence of a passionate parent community ready to be involved. We have the power to make Nashua Public Schools a model district for the state.

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