McAuliffe award winners

McAuliffe Award Winners

McAuliffe coin honorees pose for a picture at the end of a presentation ceremony on Monday, January 10, during the Board of School Committee meeting. You can see a gallery of photos from the event by clicking here.

District educators honored with McAuliffe coins

MANCHESTER – In the fall, the SEE Science Center Board of Directors generously donated 13 of the new Christa McAuliffe commemorative coins to Manchester School District. The coins honor the legacy and spirit of McAuliffe, the Concord High teacher who was chosen by NASA to join the crew of the Challenger shuttle in 1986. She tragically died when the shuttle exploded during launch. The SEE board requested that we award those coins to deserving educators in our district. To do this, we put out a call for nominations and we received amazing responses.

The school district needed to narrow down those nominations, so we formed a special committee, which selected the following educators. Click on the educator's name to read the nomination(s) received.

Mary Hartigan Demers

Hillside Middle School, 8th Grade Science

Here's what her nominators had to say:

"Mary goes above and beyond for all of her students as well as the staff in our building. Mary is the go to person for PBL and has a fully developed PBL classroom. She leads her students through her topics with ease and peaks their interest in all that they do. Mary is always positive, and always has the ability to be helpful!"

– Anna Schaffer, Hillside colleague

"I am nominating Mary Hartigan Demers for the Christa McAuliffe Medal award for countless reasons which can largely be summed up by saying, she is the most deserving educator for this award that I have worked with in my 3 decade tenure as an educator.

Mary has been teaching at Hillside Middle School for over 30 years. During this time she has tirelessly worked not only to improve her craft but to give back to school at large. Most recently, she has been an integral part of Hillside’s Project Based Learning (PBL) team. In this role she supports and mentors other teachers to bring project based learning into their classrooms to meet the needs of all students. She does this as a volunteer in addition to teaching her own classes and planning her own engaging lesson. While Covid-19 threw us all into remote learning and many struggled in that regard, Mary continued to work tirelessly to develop and implement project based learning in order to engage her students in meaningful activities which fostered their collaboration, communication and critical thinking skills. Mary even brings the larger Manchester community to her classroom through her dedication to PBL by having students present and share the results of their research and projects with the community as a whole.

Throughout her three decade tenure at Hillside, Mary has immersed herself in numerous committees in order to help the school grow and improve in a myriad of ways. For 30 years Mary has been involved in committees ranging from community service, staff support, curriculum development, competency based education, and emergency management and safety to name just a few. Mary is also typically the first teacher to arrive at school in the morning, often beating the Principal to work and she is often at Hillside later than most, planning her next engaging project, helping students, mentoring newer teachers, covering office detention, and even scoring volleyball games for the school. Mary’s devotion and compassion extends far beyond her students too; Mary revived and organized the school’s Sunshine fund which sends flowers to staff members who are going through a difficult time or who have suffered a loss. She does all of this quietly, behind the scenes, never seeking accolades or fanfare and many may not even realize all she does for the school. But those of us who do know, feel it is long since time she is recognized for her vast and beneficial contributions.

Adding to the list of accomplishments, Mary spent six years as a co-advisor the Hillside’s Builders Club, a community service based club which focuses on building leaders through service to the school and the community. The Builders Club organized an annual 5k race in memory of a former student who lost his battle with cancer and all proceeds from the race are used to send students to summer camps. Builders Club under Mary’s co-leadership ran an annual school wide Walk Against Hunger to benefit New Horizons of New Hampshire, a homeless shelter and food pantry in Manchester. Under her guidance, the students of Builders Club devoted hundreds of hours of community service ranging from working at the New Horizons food pantry, bell ringing for the Salvation Army, building birdhouses for the Manchester Animal Shelter’s annual plant sale, holding a supply and sock drive for the veterans of Manchester’s Liberty House, to working with the local elementary school during their student activity nights.

Students, staff, and families know Mary as a dedicated, compassionate, teacher, friend and colleague whose passion, encouragement and support for all she helps make Hillside a better place. While she herself would never ask for recognition for all she does, she certainly deserves to be recognized for the dedication and commitment she has shown throughout her career, every day of every year."

– Nancy Michaud, Hillside colleague

Kerstin Dumas

Highland-Goffe’s Falls Elementary School, reading specialist

Here's what her nominator had to say:

"Kerstin goes above and beyond for her students. She is not only experienced teaching nearly every elementary grade level; she also went upon herself to further her education to become the reading specialist of HGF. Last year, Kerstin took twice the amount of students for her reading groups and worked around the clock. Every single student made progress. Kerstin transitioned mid year from being a second grade classroom teacher to a reading specialist. This transition appeared to be effortless. Since taking on this role, Kerstin has dove right in with engaging our school community in events that many people couldn't pull off during a pandemic. She hosted drive up bingo at the end of the year, scaryoke at halloween, and is in the process of planning many other school events for the upcoming year. With all this in place, Kerstin asks for nothing in return. She is consistently there for all the teachers at HGF and spends her "free time" helping us learn. She is a technology genius and is always showing us new and improved resources to use in the classroom to make our students' learning more efficient and meaningful. Teaching comes naturally to Kerstin. She is confident but humble in everything she does. Year to year, her students' test scores are sky high because she cares enough to push her students outside their comfort zone. She communicates needs with parents and together, as a team, they form a plan of action to take the student to the next level. I hope to someday be as good of a teacher as Kerstin. She is inspirational!"

– Kryslin Shields, Highland colleague

David Elliot

McLaughlin Middle School, Family and Consumer Science

Here's what his nominator had to say:

"Christa McAuliffe said, "I touch the future. I teach."

Dave Elliot touches the future. He in a natural teacher, forming young adults who are strong in themselves, aware of their role in their communities, and of their power to make change. He is a dynamic presence and his classroom hums with activity and life, with positivity and promise. He empowers students, actively engaging his Green Club in growing vegetables in hydroponic gardens and beautifying and tending the school's courtyard. Green Club members are currently breeding betta fish in aquaponic tanks made of 32 liter bottles and growing a selection of plants. His Chef's Club feeds the souls of McLaughlin's teachers by delivering apple crisp and fresh whipped cream. Every September, his Chef's Club members have taken home many awards at the Deerfield Fair. His students' recipes have been selected for inclusion in the Deerfield Fair's Anniversary Cookbook next year. Note that he runs these two clubs in addition to teaching his classes of Family and Consumer Science.

Dave also integrates the past. To connect them with the history of his subject, he is currently having his students select from a collection of 75 antique kitchen tools, research it to learn about its origins, time period and use. Each student will bring their kitchen tool to life when they make a presentation to their classmates.

In a time when teachers need inspiration, as we continue to deal with the pandemic and its effects on our profession, it is good indeed to have teachers like David Elliot show what is possible with hard work, passion and belief in the kids who are our future."

– Leslie Benton-Norris, McLaughlin colleague

Trisha Korkosz

Memorial High School, Special Education

Here's what her nominators had to say:

"Mrs. Kokosz is a new teacher and since she has been at Memorial she works hard to create an inclusive and well equipped room for her students to feel safe and values. She is often in early and stays late into the evening at times. She seeks out resources that she thinks will benefit her students. I know this because I have received notices from Donor's Choose inviting me to view her ideas and requests. As her colleague I have the opportunity to see what no one else may notice. Her room looks welcoming and safe. it looks like an inviting place to learn. Special education is not an easy field but she clearly loves her job and her students. During remote learning she was in the building for most of the year. Providing face to face education for students who had to be in school. When she could not be in the building she continued to give her full support to her students. In my view she went above and beyond. It is my considered opinion that she is an educator worthy of recognition."

– Troye Anne Fennell, Memorial colleague

"She focuses on all of the children's needs from an educational point and goes above and beyond for all her students everyday unselfishly!"

– Ioana, parent

Patti McGilvary

Weston Elementary School, Health

Here's what her nominator had to say:

"Patti is the best that Weston School has to offer. She is a force for good with the best heart all around the building. Within her classroom, she strives to engage every student at their level and make learning fun and memorable. Every student is more willing to explore the world around them, just like Christa McAuliffe, because of Patti. She knows every student and is loved by all. When not teaching her own classes, she takes her personal time to work with students and help them grow the tools they need to be successful inside and out of the classroom through social emotional learning. On top of helping students, she is a fantastic mentor for the rest of the staff. Patti works tirelessly to organize spirit awards for the students and help staff members with their professional development and growth."

– Vicki Stubbs, Weston colleague

Dan McNally

Manchester School of Technology, Automotive Technology

Here's what his nominator had to say:

"Mr. McNally trains the student to be the best. They understand the automotive engine and the innovative technologies of the future. Students speak highly of Mr. McNally because as they say, "he gets me". Dan can be seen in the science classroom working with students and is always willing to lend material, tools and other wisdom to teachers and students. I think every student at MST knows his face and name. He communicates to staff with wit and humor through his hilarious stories and supports us with "the candy" jar at faculty meetings. His communication with parents is timely and on point."

– Nancy McCall, MST colleague

Shawna Morley

Green Acres Elementary School, Physical Education

Here's what her nominator had to say:

"I have 17 years experience working with plenty of PE teachers. Shawna Morley is miles ahead of any of them. She not only teachers rules of the games. Her focus is on sportsmanship taking care of one another and what I think sets her apart is teaching about mental strength. She has a way of slowing down a situation and explains it perfectly to 5-11 year old so they understand learn and grow. I wish I could upload a video of her inaction because she is truly so special one of a kind. Outside of the gym she has been a high school tennis coach. She quite possibly could be the winningest coach in NH history and she rarely talks about it. Currently she has won 11 straight state titles. I don't even know the official total because when asked she'll smile and says I've been fortunate we've won a lot. There is a common factor it's her. She takes the strategies she teacher her younger students and instills it to her high school athletes. Mindfulness, mental toughness, supporting one another. She is rare and I think has Christa McAuliffe qualities. Shawna Morley would be an ideal recipient. Thank you."

– Michael Beaulac, Green Acres Principal

Mary Larkin Quinn

Webster Elementary School, Third Grade

Here's what her nominator had to say:

"Mary Larkin Quinn is an educator who was served the Manchester School District for over 20 years. She has grown up and raised her family in Manchester as well. Mary is an active community member and even a former Webster student herself.

Mrs. Quinn is a educator who sees that student needs are not all the same. She approaches teaching in an individualized, personalized manner. While teaching the Manchester Academic Standards and core programs, Ready Math and Amplify; Mrs.Quinn scaffolds learning so ALL of her students can participate no matter their academic ability. She is focused on finding the right level of support for each student so they can grow on their learning journey. Over the years Mary has collaborated with many paraprofessionals and student teachers. Mrs. Quinn also collaborates closely for our EL teacher and welcomes her to work with students in an inclusion model.

Lastly, Mrs. Quinn communicates effectively with families. We were grateful to have Mrs. Quinn during remote learning. She made countless teaching videos, often starring her family's three dogs. My son lit up each time he listened to her read aloud or learning about multiplication from our very own living room. This year, she has made the transition back to full time school a smooth one for our daughter. Mrs. Quinn has identified gaps in her learning and is supporting us to help her at home. We are so grateful for her expertise and personal connections to her students. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts Mrs. Quinn!"

– Katie LaBranche, Webster parent and colleague

Jillian Record

The Middle School at Parkside, Social Worker

Here's what her nominator had to say:

"Jillian's dedication to her school and our district is amazing. Throughout the panic Jillian has done whatever it takes to help her students and their siblings in other schools. From delivering food bags, devices to access school work to getting internet access, Jillian has been a wonderful asset to our school district. Many nights long afterschool has ended she is still helping families with any needs they may have. We need more people like Jillian in the world. Thank you Jillian for going above and beyond for students and teachers in our district."

– Kelly Jobel, District Office colleague

Heather Rogers

Southside Middle School, 8th Grade Math

Here's what her nominators had to say:

"Heather has been example for all of us for the past few years, beginning with her live daily instruction during remote learning to being a leader in the implementation of Kagan structures. In addition to her teaching, Heather is working on the district level with Math coaching while simultaneously working towards her Masters Degree in Curriculum and Educational Leadership.

More importantly, Heather is always able to build a rapport with students that builds trust, motivates, and fosters inclusivity. Students feel comfortable sharing with her, and this allows her the ability to speak frankly and give real world advice. She is the 'go-to' person not only for the students on her team, but for some across the 8th grade, including staff! Those reasons and more are why I think Heather is an excellent nominee for a Christa McAuliffe coin!"

– Tim Shannon, Southside colleague

"Heather Rogers is a true leader in our school and an excellent teacher who exemplified excellence. She has taken on leadership roles such as CBE pathfinder, Southside math PLC leader, and math coach. She is a lifelong learner and is in her CAGS program at SNHU and adjunct faculty at the same university. Heather is a wonderful teacher who advocates for the needs of her students and is a champion for equity for all. When Southside Middle School transitioned to at home learning and students were given paper packets, Heather was the first to stream live help sessions from her living room. Her instruction produces critical thinkers who are well prepared for their math classes in high school. She supports students emotional and behavioral needs and is often specifically sought out by students seeking that level of support. The Manchester School District is extremely fortunate to have Heather as a teacher in their district."

– Jess Milligan, Southside Principal

Natalie Sears

Central High School, English

Here's what her nominator had to say:

"Ms. Sears is exceptional engaging students in the content and meeting students where they are at. When we first went remote in March of 2020, she drove to each student's home to return hard copies of work and drop off books. She shifted her end of year project to accommodate remote learning and the students worked in small groups to create a video projects that captured the key literary themes from the year. This year, she welcomed her seniors and got them rolling by demystifying the college application process and making the common app writing prompts options for a required essay, setting every student she has off on that track should they choose it. Further, she chose a book to start the year that was very relevant in the context of world events. Ms. Sears generously schedules conferences to review essays, writes recommendations, and, most importantly, creates a culture of trust and inquiry in her classroom."

– Patty Hurley, parent

Richella Simard

West High School

Here's what her nominator had to say:

"Richella Simard is a very gifted educator that is very deserving of this recognition. She is the advisor of our Diversity Club which meets regularly to discuss a variety of complex challenges that our students are facing as well as providing a safe space for our LGBTQ community. She is also the editor in chief of Diversity Club's Stall News which provides students with information and fun stories that they can relate to. She is always willing to go above and beyond for her students. An example of this is during last year's remote learning, Richella drove around the entire West side on her bike visiting her students. She was not going into their houses but letting them know when she was coming by so they could see and wave to her and have socially distanced conversations with them. This contact was so important to her students and she was able to see and meet with all of them. She also got to see where all of her students lived. Another example is her leadership in the school's Beautification Project. She is currently spearheading a school beautification project through her Collaborative Community Arts class in addition to having students positive messages on our bathroom stalls. Throughout the school there are fresh murals that are popping up created by students. Students appreciate Ms. Simard for her appreciation for art and how it makes people feel. Her influence on students can be seen daily and extends far beyond these examples. Ms. Simard epitomizes West High pride and West and its students are fortunate to have such an innovative, understanding, supportive, and creative teacher."

– Richard Dichard, West High Principal

Robin Eber-Mechin

McLaughlin Middle School, Special Education

Robin tragically passed away late last year, leaving behind a husband and two children. Her husband accepted the honor on her behalf.

Here is what her nominator had to say:

"Robin Eber-Mechin was a great example of a dedicated educator who went above and beyond to make sure her students were treated like every other student. Not only was Robin heavily involved in our school community she did everything she could to get her students involved as well. Her strong relationships she had with staff, students and parents was like no other and she is deeply missed."

– Kelly Williams, McLaughlin Assistant Principal

These educators were honored in a special ceremony during Monday night’s Board of School Committee meeting. They will also be honored along with educators from around the state in a ceremony in May. You can watch a video of the presentation ceremony below: