More Letters

Thanks for a Fun 4th of July Celebration

To the editor:

      While this year’s celebration of Independence Day was different from past years, it was a fun event and a testament to the hometown spirit of Amherst’s citizens and organizations!  The reverse parade held at Souhegan High School on the morning of the 4th of July was a hit with participants and parade goers alike.

      The theme for this year’s celebration was “America’s Superheroes” and many of the groups embraced it in their decorated floats and costumes.  The fun on the 4th featured many of our local organizations including Cub Scout Pack 613, Amherst Soccer Club/Hampshire United, Amherst Junior Women’s Club, AAUW, Souhegan High School Robotics, Friends of the Amherst Town Library, Josiah Crosby Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Boy Scout Troop 613, Amherst Garden Club, Amherst Democrats, Amherst Lions Club, SAU 39, Souhegan Valley Transportation Collaborative/Blue Bus, and the Hillsborough County Chapter of Sleep in Heavenly Peace.  The Board of Selectmen were there to wave to the crowds passing by in their cars and the Amherst Fire Department showcased several fire trucks and emergency vehicles including the ladder truck prominently displaying the American flag.  CERT members also brought their trailer for all to enjoy.  Additionally,  many perennial parade favorites were back this year including the Amherst Town Band, the Pocket Lady, the Campbell Highlanders, 1st New Hampshire Regiment, the Hudson Post Band, New Hampshire 5th Regiment, the Granite State Clowns, Fountain Square Ramblers, Flying Gravity Circus and New Hampshire Police Association Pipes and Drums.  There were also several antique cars on display. 

      The Amherst Lions Club live-streamed the announcement of the 2020 and 2021 winners of the Citizen of the Year Award.  John Harvey was awarded the 2020 Citizen of the Year Award by Reed Flowers, the immediate past President of the Amherst Lions Club.  The 2021 Citizen of the Year Award was presented to Anne Krantz by incoming Amherst Lions Club President, Nate Jensen.  Sev-eral past Citizens of the Year were on hand to provide congratulations to both of these Amherst leaders.  

So many people in our community help to make the Fourth of July an event to be enjoyed by all.  Jim Janson, Float Chair, did a great job organizing all the floats this year.  Recognition was given to the Amherst Garden Club for Best Overall Float and the Amherst Democrats received the Most Patriotic honor. Thanks to the Amherst Police and Fire Departments as well as the Amherst DPW for their help with traffic and safety.  Thanks to Craig Richardson for creating our website at www.amherstnh4th.org, which includes our “virtual green” featuring the Amherst nonprofit organizations that are usually on the green on the 4th of July.  Additionally, our thanks to the Congregational Church of Amherst for allowing us to ring the bell at 2:00 p.m. on July 4th as part of “Let Freedom Ring.”  

      Our heartfelt gratitude goes to all who participated in the reverse parade.  It is always great to see our community come together for a fun celebration.  The greatest thanks of all must go to the volunteers on the Fourth of July Committee, those wonderful people who make it all work.  This year’s committee members who helped with the reverse parade include Kim Ayers, Terri Behm, Leslie Bennett, George Coddington, Diane DeSimone, Jennifer Eccleston, Peter Giannakopoulos, Christine Grayson, Nancy Head, Jim Janson, John Leary, Katherine Lockwood, Pete Moran, Gretchen Pyles, and Tammy Rafferty.

         

Respectfully,

Kim Ayers, Jennifer Eccleston,

Peter Giannakopoulos & Gretchen Pyles 

Members of the Amherst Fourth of July

Steering Committee

A Problem In SAU 39

To the editor:

      Now that the school year for most children, teachers, parents, and guardians has come to the finish line, there appears to be a problem that has existed for an exceptionally long time within SAU 39.

      As a parent and grandparent of children who went through the system and attended Amherst schools, my experience includes receiving report cards, attending parent teacher conferences, being partisan to an IEP, and assisting children with homework, projects, and test prep. The angst that I experienced and still do is connecting the dots. 

      Dots are curriculum, class work, homework, standards, and more. Best Practices is a buzz word with great significance.  We all want our teachers and district to use best practices. Dr. Arendale notes, “Best Education Practices, the wide range of individual activities, policies, and programmatic approaches to achieving positive changes in student attitudes or academic behaviors. This umbrella term encompasses the following designations that differ on the level of evidence supporting desired student or institutional outcomes: “promising,” “validated,” and “exemplary.” (https://www.arendale.org/best-education-practices) The definition covers a lot; however, one best practice is that of curriculum mapping. Hence, the problem in SAU 39 is not using a best practice, that of curriculum mapping.

      When in the educational field you should be knowledgeable of Heide Hayes Jacobs. “Heidi Hayes Jacobs, EdD, is an internationally recognized expert in curriculum development, vertical planning, modern assessment design, and 21st century strategic planning. Her model for curriculum mapping is used throughout the world.” (https://www.solutiontree.com/heidi-hayes-jacobs.html) 

       What are the concerns when not using curriculum mapping?  In brief, parents and guardians need to know the curriculum being taught to our child/children.  More essential than that, is knowing the standards that are aligned to what is taught in every domain (albeit that is in the skeleton the SAU uses on its web site).  It provides, when done correctly, the essential questions for each unit, the exact resources used, the formative and summative assessments, and the rubrics (4, 3, 2, 1) for each unit. Therefore, it provides a sequence for teaching and learning.  It provides a diversified educational tool. 

      Curriculum mapping provides a platform that teachers share withing the domain horizontally and vertically; therefore, a tool for parents and guardians providing the essential information they need. Each school year, over the last several, the administration has reconfigured leadership teams, curriculum coordinators, specialists (math and reading) to shore up the education of our children.  Now, the district has not one but two assistant superintendents, charged with providing what curriculum mapping would do, and less costly. 

      Professional Development for Curriculum Mapping is provided for within the budgets of the SAU, ASD, MVSD, and SCD; however, it will go to another goal, a project that has not been productive for the education of our children, as seen in our standings and test scores in NH. SAU 39, use the taxpayer money wisely with curriculum mapping opportunities and invest wisely in our children’s education.

      In conclusion, curriculum mapping is a best practice that affords accountability and ownership for teaching and learning. SAU 39 must move forward implementing PD for curriculum mapping while providing an efficient teaching and learning tool, a best practice.

 

Marilyn Gibson

Amherst

JULY 2021