February 2018 Superintendent Message

Dover School Community,


On January 9, the Dover School District was confronted with the death of an eighth-grade student. This was devastating news to everyone that knew this young man, and shock to all those associated with the school system and the greater Dover Community. The school system and the community responded with sincere concern, care, and support for the family, students, teachers, and support personnel.  It was amazing to observe the depth of care and support that poured into the schools and into the community during the initial week of the incident. That care and support continues as everyone begins the process of healing from the loss.

During the past several weeks, as I continue to reflect on this incident and the district’s and my response to the incident, I kept coming back to the concept of HOPE. With the tragedy of a child’s death, it is so easy to surrender your hope and your ability to continue to move forward. Yet, it is the foundation of healing from event like this and having an optimistic outlook for the future. I believe hope allows us to persevere and navigate the difficulties and demands we face on life’s journey.

My reflection time was inclusive of reading and watching videos pertaining to the concept of hope. As I prepared to write this message, I extracted information from Hope and Optimism: The Other 21st Century Skills | User Generated. From this site, I share the following with you:


Hope is a trust in, wait for, look for, or desire something or someone; and to expect something beneficial in the future. It is a faith in future occurrence. Vicki Zakrzewski states, “Helping our students cultivate hope might be one of the most important things we do for them… it’ll give them confidence and creativity to reach their long-term goals in school and in life.” Hope is also associated with optimism.

Teaching Hope and Optimism: Positive Psychology in Action shares, the good news from researchers in the field of positive psychology is that an optimistic explanatory style is not just a personality trait; it is a skill which can ne taught and learned. Hope can also be learned; it is one of the pathways to wellbeing; it is related to our beliefs and goals for the future, it flows from one person to another and has a positive ripple effect on how we see the world and pursue our goals. Both hope and optimism are correlated with learning, achievement, positive relationships, health and satisfaction with life and wellbeing.

Over the las twenty years, researchers have gained clearer understanding of the relationships between hope and important aspects of students’ lives. Put simply, research demonstrates that more hopeful students do better in school and life than less hopeful students.

  • Hope is positively associated with perceived competence and self-worth (Marques, Pais-Ribeiro, & Lopez, 2009) and negatively associated with symptoms of depression (Snyder, Hoza, et al., 1997).
  • High-hope students typically are more optimistic (Snyder, Hoza, et al., 1997), develop many life goals, and perceive themselves as being capable of solving problems that may arise (Snyder, Hoza, et al., 1997).
  • Accumulating evidence suggests that hope is related to life satisfaction and wellbeing (e.g., Gilman, Dooley, & Florell, 2006).
  • Hope plays a role in student health in areas such as adherence to treatment among asthma children patients (Berg, Rapoff, Snyder, & Belmont, 2007).
  • Hope is linked consistently to attendance and credits earned (Gallup, 2009a).
  • Hopeful middle school students have better grades in core subjects (Marques, Pais-Ribeiro, & Lopez, 2011) and on achievement tests (Snyder, Hoza, et al., 1997).
  • Hopeful high school students (Gallup, 2009b; Snyder et al., 1991) and beginning college students (Gallagher & Lopez, 2008; Snyder et al., 2002) have higher overall grade point averages.
  • Hope predicts academic achievement, and the predictive power of hope remains significant even when controlling for intelligence (e.g., Snyder, Cheavens, & Sympson, 1997), prior grades (e.g., Gallagher & Lopez, 2008; Snyder et al., 1991; Snyder et al., 2002), self-esteem (Snyder et al., 2002), personality (Day, Hanson, Maltby, Proctor, & Wood, 2010), and college entrance examination scores such as high school GPA and ACT/SAT (Gallagher & Lopez, 2008; Snyder et al., 2002).
  • Higher hope has been positively related to superior athletic (and academic) performances among student athletes (e.g., Curry, Maniar, Sondag, & Sandstedt, 1999), even after statistically controlling for variance related to their natural athletic abilities.
  • Higher hope has been correlated positively with social competence (Barnum, Snyder, Rapoff, Mani, & Thompson, 1998), pleasure in getting to know others, enjoyment in frequent interpersonal interactions (Snyder, Hoza, et al., 1997), and interest in the goal pursuits of others (Snyder, Cheavens, & Sympson, 1997).


    Through our collective actions of the Dover School Community, many individuals demonstrated their sincere investment in the lives of our students as well as being present to support one another. I believe the event demonstrated the capacity of all to love, care, and support. That sense of sincere care created a connection to hope.

    I believe hope is an important quality we can develop in ourselves and in our children. I believe through faith, hope, and love many of life’s obstacles can be overcome including the healing from a student’s death.

    The process is a journey, but we must never surrender our hope to a tragic event. It was reassuring to everyone to experience a community’s support and care. I personally felt encouraged and hopeful, as we navigated this event together.


    William R. Harbron, Ed.D.





    With the recent death of an eighth-grade students, the following five stages of grief are being shared. The following was extracted from the website: There are several others if you wish to conduct your own search.


    Helping your child to understand the stages of grief may assist and support them in their own process of working through the recent death in the district.

    The grieving process varies from person to person in terms of the order in which one experiences the stages of grief and how long it takes to go through these stages. Some people may start with anger, while others may start with denial. The stages of grieving can also be experienced more than once. However, each step helps with the healing process.

    Grief is usually divided into five stages:


  • Denial - Denial is a stage where one can try to believe that the death has not occurred. One may feel numb, or in a state of shock. Denial is a protective emotion when a life event is too overwhelming to deal with all at once.
  • Anger - Anger is a stage in which you are very upset and angry that this tragedy has happened in your family. One of the best ways of dealing with bursts of anger is to exercise or participate in another type of physical activity. Talking with family and friends, other parents who have lost a child, and the hospital staff, may also be helpful.
  • Bargaining - Questioning God, asking "Why my child?" and "What did we do to deserve this?" are common questions in this stage. Guilt is a primary emotion during this stage. Searching for something that you personally did, which could have contributed to the death, is all part of bargaining. It is important to remember that there is nothing you or your child did which contributed to the death.
  • Depression or sadness - This is a stage in which the death of a child can no longer be denied and parents and siblings may feel a profound sense of sadness. This is normal. It may be accompanied by physical changes such as trouble sleeping or excessive sleeping, changes in appetite, or difficulty with concentrating on simple daily activities. It is important to talk about depression with a healthcare professional such as a social worker, or counselor, or meet with a support group to help you cope with these feelings.
  • Acceptance - Acceptance is the stage in which you have accepted death and are at a point where your child's death has been incorporated as part of your life. You have made an adjustment to the loss. This does not mean that you will never feel other emotions, but usually families find that they are better able to manage their lives overall upon reaching this stage. Some resolution has taken place with the child's death. This may include your religious and cultural beliefs and practices.




    February 15 – Young Inventor’s Competitions, Horne Street School and Woodman Park School

    February 21 –  Jazz Desserts, Dover High School

    February 26 – School Offices Closed in observance of President’s Day

    February 26 – March 2 – Winter Recess



    To date, the Dover School District has had 4 inclement weather days. For your planning purposes, the current last day of school is June 20.  This date will change if there are additional inclement weather days.



    The official Dover Strategic Plan has been completed and posted on the Dover School District’s website. It be accessed at The next step in the process is to develop an implementation and accountability plan. Robert Renshaw has been advising and training the Dover Leadership Team in the process to be used. The Leadership Team will begin working on the implementation and accountability plan for the 2018-2019 school year.


    The following are the strategic plan goals:

    GOAL 1: The Dover School District will improve educational outcomes for students by effectively engaging with the broader community.

    GOAL 2: The Dover School District will develop and sustain a culture that is characterized by optimizing social, emotional, civic, physical, and rigorous academic learning.

    GOAL 3: The Dover School District is committed to continue investments in infrastructure to support student learning inclusive of facilities, technology, and safety-security.

    GOAL 4: The Dover School District will recruit, hire, develop and retain effective and caring educators and support them in their growth as strong community members.



    Strategic Plan Goal 1 and Goal 2 emphasizes a transformation to competency based learning system. Over the past five years, the state of New Hampshire has become increasingly committed to competency-based learning. In a competency-based system, students advance upon mastery. Competencies describe what students should know, as well as what they should be able to do, not only in terms of academic skills, but also in terms of social skills students need to succeed,


    Competency-based learning places emphasis on targeting individual student needs. With competency-based learning students are provided with the flexible pacing, multiple pathways to competency, and multiple form of assessment that they need to learn and to demonstrate competency. Competency-based education recognizes the individual learning needs of the students. Competency-based focuses on learning the personalization of learning.


    The hallmarks of an effective competency-based education are:


  • Students advance upon demonstration of mastery.
  • Competencies include explicit. measurable, transferable learning objectives, that empower students.
  • Assessment is meaningful and is a positive learning experience for students.
  • Students receive timely, differentiated support, based on their individual learning needs.
  • Learning outcomes emphasize competencies that include application and creation of knowledge, along with the development of important skills and dispositions.



What is the role and purpose of the school budget? The school budget—and accompanying process—provides school districts and their leaders with an opportunity to justify the collection and expenditure of public funds. In its most simple definition, a school budget describes a district’s plan for the upcoming year as related to anticipated revenues and expenditures. School budgets allow districts to translate sometimes intangible missions, operations and objectives into reality by outlining and providing specific programs and funding/financial terms. A school budget helps bridge the gap that can exist between a district’s stated goals and resource allocation. The budget process forces the discussion that will inform choices among various programs competing for the limited available resources. As William Hartman writes, key steps of the school budget process include, “…establishing the district’s objectives and priorities; allocating resources; involving the public through budget hearings, school board decisions and other means of representative democracy; and, in some states, conducting budget elections.” (Hartman, 1999).

The development of the Fiscal Year 2019 budget is underway. During January, the Board held a series of meetings to review budget data and to align the budget needs with the Dover School District’s Strategic Plan. On Wednesday, January 31, the Board participated in a Joint Finance Committee Meeting with the Dover City Council. The Joint Finance Committee agenda included Tax Cap Calculation, Impact Fee Study and Current Report Evaluation, Impact of SB193 Legislation, Additional Kindergarten Funding, School Budget and School District Strategic Plan Budget Implications and DHS CTC Overage Allowance.


On February 5, the Board will hold the final Budget Workshop to assist the administration in developing the proposed FY19 Budget to be adopted by the Board on February 12.



The Dover High School Joint Building Committee (DHS JBC) has launched the Building it Brighter Campaign, a fundraising initiative to offset the cost of building enhancements that were not included in the original building scope of the new Dover High School and Regional Career Technical Center currently under construction in Dover. All funds raised will be used to expand school resources and programs including technology, athletics and athletic fields and facilities, landscaping, the performing arts, an animal science barn, new programs, media center and more.


The DHS JBC is seeking in-kind and monetary donations, including contributions from businesses and organizations interested in directing support to specific facilities or programs. When the doors open in the fall of 2018, the new high school and technical center will be a state-of-the-art facility that fosters innovation and helps students prepare with confidence for the ever-changing face of the future.


“The JBC has been diligent in making sure that our new school is built on time and on budget,” said JBC Chair and Deputy Mayor Robert Carrier said. “Building It Brighter Campaign provides for programs the construction budget did not cover and is a way for members of the community to offer additional support for the programs they value most.”


“Our new high school will be the pride of Dover for decades,” said City Councilor and Joint Building Committee member Sarah Greenshields. “We know there are people and organizations passionate about particular focus areas, this is a wonderful opportunity to have a direct impact on the future of education in Dover.”  For more information on the Building It Brighter Campaign, or to make a donation, visit  or contact Evonne Kill-Kish, Dover School Business Office Assistant, at



Check-out the Dover School Facebook Page at It is a way to stay informed of the current events of the Dover School District. There are many good happening occurring in your Dover School District.





The following is a summary of the article “The Magic of Validation” by Jennifer Gonzalex in Cult of Pedagogy, December 18, 2017 found in Marshall Memo 721.

Validation 101

“Validation is the act of recognizing and affirming the feelings or perspective of another person,” says Jennifer Gonzalez in this Cult of Pedagogy article. “It’s acknowledging that these thoughts and feelings are true for that person. It’s a very simple, astoundingly fast way to make progress in a conversation: it eases tension, builds trust, and gets you and the other person to a solution more quickly.”

But validation doesn’t come naturally; more commonly, people respond to negative comments by:

  • Arguing with the person’s viewpoint;
  • Dismissing the person’s feelings;
  • Ignoring the person’s concern;
  • Being snide or getting ad hominem.


“In all of these cases,” she says, “the other person has not learned anything new, you have not come to any new understandings or solved any problems, and you have very likely created new negative feelings. Keep repeating this cycle and you have the makings of a problem relationship.”


Gonzalez suggests a three-step process when negativity from another person makes our gorge rise:


  • Paraphrase the main thing the person is saying to make sure you heard it right. Doing this lets people know you’re listening, are interested (even curious), and aren’t judging. It can be helpful to use stems like, What I hear you saying is… Is that right? or Let me see if I’m understanding you right… or In other words…


  • Acknowledge the emotion. The other person will really feel “heard” if you can correctly identify what’s going on under the surface: That sounds frustrating. or It sounds like you’re worried. or So you felt confused?


  • Communicate acceptance. “You may not feel the same way, and their feelings might create problems for you, but they are what they are,” says Gonzalez. Letting the person know that you accept their feelings, without necessarily agreeing with them, is important: I can see why you’d feel that way. or That’s understandable. or It can be upsetting when that happens.


The conversation might continue or it might end there; either way, the other person is likely to feel heard and accepted. Or you could do some additional prompting: Can you tell me more about that?


Gonzalez acknowledges that some people are very reluctant to engage in this kind of validating dialogue. Why?


  • I don’t agree with the person’s opinion, so why validate it?
  • The person’s position isn’t valid, so why encourage it?
  • This touchy-feely stuff isn’t for me.
  • I have better ways to spend my time.


Gonzalez pushes back: “If you make reflective listening and validation a regular part of your way of dealing with people, you will ultimately save yourself a TON of time.” Any conversation is a fork in the road: one path is often more drawn-out, full of arguments, put-downs, and opinions not changing at all, while the other, if it starts with validation and calmer discourse, is more likely to produce an amicable resolution – and be much shorter.


“The Magic of Validation” by Jennifer Gonzalez in Cult of Pedagogy, December 18, 2017,