A new school year brings excitement, and apprehension, for
students, parents, teachers, and administrators alike. Changes are always a
part of any new school year; new courses, new programs, and new facilities
often greet the returning students and educators. To see what is happening in
the world of education for the 2016-2017 school year in the Upper Valley, the
Lebanon Times checked in with a few of the area’s schools.
Kimball Union Academy
Meriden’s Kimball Union Academy is a long time fixture in the annals of Upper Valley educational institutions. In 2013, KUA celebrated their bicentennial. This year, the school’s director of marketing and communications, Sarah Moore, says the school will welcome an estimated 335 students through their doors. The school educates those in grades 9-12, with 75% of the students boarding at the school. The remaining 25% are day students, predominantly coming from the Upper Valley. Students that board at KUA represent 25 different states, and 26 different countries, says Moore.
Moore says two recently developed programs are generating a great deal of interest at KUA. Their Global Scholars program began recently, and boasts an enrollment of over 35 students [Lebanon Times founding publisher’s daughter just completed the Global Scholars program and loved it!]. The two-year program, designed for juniors and seniors, immerses students in global and international studies, with the goal of producing leaders in the many facets of global relations and understanding. This program includes travel, and student exchange opportunities. Community service is another important component for students enrolled in this program.
The new school year debuts a follow-up to the Global Scholars program, the Arts Scholars program. With an initial enrollment of 10-15 students, this program offers students the opportunity to focus on one area of the arts, or delve into a broad array of art forms. Opportunities for exposure to the arts come from a variety of sources; community resources, including those at Dartmouth College, and the resources at KUA. Moore says the arts faculty at KUA is made up of active artists, offering great arts experience and knowledge for the students.
Many changes to the facilities at KUA are recently completed. “There’s constant updating and renovating,” says Moore of the on-campus facilities, adding that these are done with attention paid to preserving the character of the historic campus.
Lyme’s Crossroads Academy offers instruction for area students in K-8th grades. Head of School Brad Choyt says 140 students will attend Crossroads in the coming school year. Students at Crossroads come from throughout the Upper Valley, and as far away as New London and Franconia, NH.
Choyt says there are several new educational efforts underway at Crossroads, one of which involves their language program. Students in the K-3 grade levels have the opportunity to be exposed to both French and Spanish instruction, then in 4th and 5th grades, can specialize in one or the other. By the time they reach 7th grade, Latin instruction becomes available.
In music, there is a new strings program for students in grades 1 through 5. Kindergarten students now have the opportunity to learn about computer coding as well.
Not all student work takes place during the actual school year. Crossroads offers a comprehensive new summer program where those attending work can learn in conjunction with various area non-profit organizations. Some of the organizations students work with include the AVA Gallery, Upper Valley Music Center, the Upper Valley Humane Society, and the Montshire Museum. Choyt says many of the students involved with the summer programs are not Crossroads students during the academic year.
This school year is the start of the second quarter century for Crossroads Academy, as last year marked their 25th year anniversary, the school being founded in 1991-’92. Their academic philosophy includes Core Knowledge, and Core Virtues, which involves character lessons applied in the various classes taken by students.
I’m 21, have a high school diploma, but no particular skills. I need a job, but I have no idea where to go from here. This is a dilemma for many, but fortunately, Blane Martin of West Lebanon, was one who found his right path. Through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act office housed at NHWorks in Claremont, he was able to connect with WorkReadyNH at River Valley Community College on the pedestrian mall in Lebanon.
WorkReadyNH is a tuition-free program that is funded through the NH Department of Resources and Economic Development, which helps improve the skills of job seekers and career builders. It provides a three-week course during which participants attend 60 hours of classroom instruction in soft skills as well as study time to prepare for the national career readiness exam.
This “classroom” is set up as a simulated workplace and when the people come through the door, they are “in” a workplace setting which enables them to learn, and practice skills such as job interviews and conducting meetings, effective communication, customer service, team-building, conflict resolution, workplace safety, and critical thinking. Through on-line tutorials, they can improve essential math, reading and problem-solving skills at their own pace.
Each class has to develop a fictional business or service, create an employer manual, a business plan, or a prototype. The idea behind this is to practice building teamwork, and to use the skills that are being addressed in the classroom.
To participate in the tuition-free WorkReadyNH program, you must be a New Hampshire resident, at least 18 years old and dedicated to your professional growth.
There is a graduation ceremony at the end of this course at which these students are awarded two credentials: the National Career Readiness Certificate, and the WorkReadyNH Certificate.
Graduates have included those 18-80+ years old, employed and unemployed, those with no high school diploma to those with a PhD, those with no work experience to those with 50+ years of experience.
Once participants complete the career readiness exam, they can search a career database of over 18,000 jobs nationwide for which they may be qualified.
Remember Blane at the beginning of this article? He is a perfect example of learning that he was skilled for a job by testing high in math showing that he would qualify for 99% of the 18,000+ jobs in the database. He was not even aware that his “hidden” talent could lead to a lucrative career until he participated in this course. In a little more than a year, Blane built his soft and hard skills and earned a total of three certificates; a WorkReadyNH certificate from the Community College System of NH and a National Career Readiness Certificate from ACT through the WorkReadyNH program, and in May he graduated in his cap and gown from River Valley Community College with a certificate in dvanced Manufacturing. Today he is working successfully and happily in advanced manufacturing and loving it.
To find out more about the WorkReadyNH program at River Valley Community College in Lebanon, please call Martha Mott, Program Director at (603) 543-4585; email her at email@example.com; or visit the web at www.ccsnh.edu/workreadynh.
Ledyard Charter School
Eight years and over 300 students later, the Ledyard Charter School (LCS) is still going strong. LCS provides the same academic course requirements as any public high school, per the New Hampshire Department of Education.
A “charter school” is a public school which provides an
alternative/choice for communities in regard to public education. LCS provides
a unique opportunity to re-inspire the reluctant or disengaged learner.
Students who have faced academic and/or social challenges in the traditional
high school setting, are helped through an individualized alternative education
The average cost of educating a child attending a public high school in New Hampshire is about $17,000 per year. The State of New Hampshire will pay $6,950 for the 2017-18 year for each student at LCS, which leaves a $10,000 gap per student to be covered.
Approximately 50% of Ledyard’s students are from Lebanon High School, for a total of 20 out of the 41. Lebanon School District provides a para-educator through the Student Support Services at SAU 88. This Para-Educator is hired and contracted by SAU 88 to report daily to LCS to help classroom teachers and provide direct instruction to students.
Ledyard Charter School is grateful for the support it receives from its community partners. LCS welcomes volunteer support, donations and is currently accepting applications for the 2017/2018 school year.
For more information, visit their website at: www.ledyardcharterschool.org or call the school at 603-727-4772.