June 2018 Superintendent Message

Dover School Community,

Several months ago, I shared information about the importance of hope in our lives. Since that time, I had the opportunity to speak to a representative from Gallup pertaining to a student survey on hope and engagement for grades 5-12. During our discussion, I requested additional information on the connection of student’s hope to school performance and avoidance of potential destructive behaviors. Gallup shared with me the article Making Hope Happen in the Classroom by Shane J. Lopez. In the May issue of the Superintendent’s Message, I stated the next section of the article would be shared which focuses on three ways to make hope happen. Dr. Lopez writes:
"Three ways to make hope happen In Making Hope Happen, I describe dozens of strategies designed to enhance hope. Here are three practical ways to help students (children) discover and shape their future selves."

Ask students (children) to work on goals that really matter to them. Have you ever washed a rental car? Most people say that they have never done so and would never do so. Why? They don’t own the car, so they don’t feel responsible for it. Most students don’t give their all on assignments they don’t own or find meaningful. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, since we, the adults, don’t like it when someone assigns us a task, either. No middle school student wakes up squealing with glee, “I get to raise the school district’s reading scores today!” No college student in America jumps out of bed and says, “Today, I will do my part to raise the graduation rate at my school!” They don’t care about institutional goals. They’re excited about personal goals that create a promising future for themselves. Educators’
work is to do all they can to make sure that the present prepares them for it. Goals that are clearly linked to one day having a good job or a happy family inspire students to do their best. Knowing students well
enough to know their visions of their future selves is required to sufficiently motivate them. (Note: parents can also do this with their children.)

Teach students “where there’s a way, there’s will.” Students generally are confident and think “I can do
anything!” According to a 2003 study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, American kids are No. 1 in the world in confidence. For the most part, students have adequate will and
say they are determined to put in the hard work to pursue a future they’re excited about.

The big problem is that they lack the ways or necessary strategies to reach the big goals such as graduation and employment. According to the Gallup Student Poll, more than 90% strongly believe they would graduate from high school, but only 60% of them strongly believe they could come up with many
ways to get good grades. Nearly half of American students strongly believe they would find a good job after graduation, but only a third of them strongly believe they could find ways around any problem that might arise in life.
My all-time favorite way to teach the ways of hope is to do it on the sly before people realize I’m working hard to get them to think more strategically about the future. I use the Hope Camera Project, which was originally developed for use in a children’s hospital and then adapted for use in a school-based hope program. A description of a recent application of the Hope Camera Project illustrates how a project- based assignment can teach ways of hope.

School counselor Jennifer Magnuson-Stessman gave her 5th and 6th graders, 36 in all, disposable cameras and a week to document hope in their lives. She enticed them into action by promising to display their work at a community art show for their friends, family, educators, and other community

Magnuson-Stessman kicked off the project by laying out the steps that would lead the students to a fun and rewarding night at the art opening. First, each student captured images of hope in their daily lives in
28 photos. In consultation with Magnuson-Stessman, they picked one photo that best represented hope to them. Next, they wrote a brief essay, to be edited and reedited with her to tell their story. Finally, the students printed the photos, cropped them, matted and framed them, hung them along with their essay, then rehearsed for the art show. Magnuson-Stessman walked each student through each step. She nudged them to think about multiple
ways to make the progress they wanted. Then one night in April 2011, hope was on display during the art show in the school gym. My wife, Alli, and I attended the unveiling with about 100 school officials, students, and family members who sampled apple juice in wine glasses with fresh strawberries and cubed cheese. As Alli and I viewed the photos, read the essays, and chatted with students, we realized that some of them had considered their project to be a harbinger of hope over the course of the past winter and spring. Family strife struck most, academic struggles slowed down many, and health problems plagued several students or their siblings. No matter what students were grappling with, they had “the project.” We were impressed by their ability to figure out how to get things done and
experienced a palpable sense of hope that night — a feeling that I remember fondly today.

The Hope Camera Project is just one way we can teach people how to match their will with their ways. Once students learn how to think flexibly and create alternative strategies to reach their goals, they can use this skill for a lifetime (What family could you create to develop the thinking demonstrated in this section?)

Show students how to set action triggers. A when/where plan uses the power of cues to prompt us to work on the long-term projects that matter most to us. A good when/where plan keeps us on track, guards us against our tendency to procrastinate, and prevents us from getting overwhelmed by
competing demands.

New York University psychology professor Peter Gollwitzer has developed this strategy through a series of research studies, most notably through two I’ll call the Christmas Studies. In Christmas Study #1, college students were asked before Christmas break to name two projects, one easy and one hard, that they intended to complete during their time off. Typical goals included writing papers, mending relationships with friends, and exercising. About two-thirds of them, with no encouragement, formed plans about when and where to get started on the project. Upon returning from Christmas vacation,
participants were asked about project completion. Most of the easy projects were completed regardless of whether the student had made a when/where plan. But hard projects were a different story. Only 25% of students who did not develop when/where plans in advance completed their hard projects.
In Christmas Study #2, all participants were given the same project: They were to write a report on how they spent Christmas Eve and submit it within two days of returning from the holiday. Individuals were then randomly assigned to two groups. One group was asked to create when/where plans for writing the essay; the other was not. Seventy-five percent of the group who had visited the future to specify the time and place for writing the report submitted it on time; only 33% of those without a plan completed the

Making a when/where plan is a straightforward process. Each time, give a student an assignment or set a goal, help them choose the day and time they’ll start working on it, and the place where they’ll work. (Develop with your child the concept of “where” will I do it and when will I do it. I have been applying this in my life with tasks that I do not enjoy doing. I have discovered that the idea works, and I get the tasks completed in a timely and non-stressful manner.)
Spreading hope to students: Most students can go from nexting to hope with a little help from teachers and other caregivers. Not only can we teach them how to hope, but we also can inspire it in them. That’s because hope is contagious. It can be spread from one person to another. In a classroom setting, all that is required to create a contagion is a teacher being at the height of hope. (We can also create hope in our families. Our children pick up the hope we have in our own lives.)

It is my hope that I have stimulated your thinking about hope and will try to develop more hope in your children. From my reading, I have learned that hope is a critical factor in our lives.

William R. Harbron, Ed.D.

Dover Schools Updates

The 2018 Dover High School graduation will be held on Thursday, June 14 starting at 7 p.m. at the Whittemore Center, UNH, Durham, NH.

The District has been awarded several grants from the state to improve school security. The grants total approximately $393,600 which is 80% of the estimated total project cost. Projects include: Security vestibules at Woodman Park School and the Alternative School, Surveillance Systems at each school, and an Electronic Access Control System.

The work on the new Dover High School and Regional CTC Center continues. If you want the latest information on the construction, the link that follows has the latest updates:

The wooden structure at the corner of Alumni Drive and Bellamy Road is the new Animal Science Building for the Dover Regional CTC. The structure will provide classroom areas as well as barn areas.

With the new facilities for the CTC, the CTC will be offering the following programs: Animal Science, Automotive Collision Technology, Automotive Repair Technology, Biomedical Science, Building Construction Technology, Business Principles, Computer Programming and Intro to Engineering,
Cosmetology, Culinary Arts, Electrical Technology, Fire Service, Health Science, Marketing, NJROTC, Pre- Engineering, Welding, Sports Medicine.

The Garrison School renovation project is underway. The first wing is nearing completion with the second wing going under renovation during the summer and being ready to open for the start of school is August. The final wing will start renovation in August and will be completed in January 2019.

In the Dover School District’s Strategic Plan, the District will move to develop and implement competency-based education. Objective 2.4 – Competency Based Education states, “We will optimize student learning and achievement by developing and implementing a competency-based education model.” The following YouTube videos illustrate the concept of competency-based education: and

The District has established a Teaching and Learning Committee to assist with facilitation of the development of a competency-based learning program.

The following are events that you may wish to participate during June:

 DHS Senior Banquet – 6/1
 SEED Event – 6/2
 DMS Fifth Grade Band and Chorus Concert – 6/6
 DHS Jazz in the Park – 6/7
 DHS Underclass Awards – 6/8
 DAA End-of-Year Celebration – 6/8
 EDies – 6/9
 DMS 6-8 Band & Chorus Concert – 6/12
 DHS Senior Awards – 6/13
 DHS Graduation – 6/14
 DMS 8 th Grade Dinner Dance – 6/15
 DALC Graduation – 6/19
 WPS Fourth Grade Graduation – 6/21
 8 th Grade Awards Assembly – 6/21
 Students Last Day of School – 6/22
 Teachers Last Day of School – 6/25

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 happenings occurring in your Dover School District.

The District is engaged with Edlio in the design and development of a new Dover School District Webpage. Veronica Kuzmitski is leading the project. Edlio will enable the District to have an attractive and inviting webpage that will be user-friendly. The design process has been initiated. The new Dover
School District, SAU 11 Website will be available in late July or early August. On June 30 , the current webpage will expire, and a temporary webpage will be available until the next site is released.

Summer school for elementary students will be held at Woodman Park School.

If you are new to the Dover Community or have a new kindergarten student starting 2018-2019, we encourage you to contact your neighborhood school as soon as possible to schedule an appointment to register your student. If you are unsure as to which school your student should attend or if you have
questions, please contact the SAU at 516-6800


During the summer, the Dover School District schools are open to the public from 8:00 am to 3:30 pm Monday through Friday. The SAU, located at the McConnell Center at 61 Locust St, Suite 409 is open from 8:00 am -4:00 pm Monday through Friday.

In this article in Psychology Today, science writer Jena Pincott lists correctives for some common cognitive biases (inborn and acquired):
• Understand that not everything that happens to you is about you. “At the very least, the egocentric bias causes us to misread others,” says Pincott. “It undermines empathy and tolerance. It also traps us in a bubble; we waste vast amounts of psychic energy recovering from insults that were never
targeted at us in the first place. To live a life that is less reactive, more directed, it is necessary to put the ego in its place.”

• Worry less about what others think of you. It turns out that people are much less aware of our competence, awkwardness, verbal flubs, facial expressions, even what we wear, than we imagine. “When we care less about our curated self-image, we open the door to interacting more genuinely,” says Pincott. “We can let down our guard. Others may respond in kind, focusing less on their own self-image and opening up.”

• Realize that you don’t have to act the way you feel. Pincott advises “self-distancing” to keep disappointments and negative emotions from spilling into everyday interactions. This involves processing our feelings from an outsider’s point of view, addressing ourselves in the third person to normalize and make meaning of disturbing experiences. This makes it possible to preserve our dignity, privacy, and self- respect when we’re not at our best.

• Reframe and manage disappointment and adversity. “There is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so,” said Hamlet. Social psychologists have confirmed Shakespeare’s wisdom, showing that although there are differences in people’s innate ability to handle stressful events, mental fortitude can be acquired. This means learning how not to jump to conclusions, overgeneralize, catastrophize, personalize, and engage in black-or-white thinking. “Resilient people do not define themselves by their
adversity,” says Pincott. “They understand that bad times are temporary affairs.”

• Solicit honest feedback. It’s possible to be internally self-aware (in touch with our own values and passions) and not externally self-aware (knowing how others see us). “External self-awareness allows us to be more in sync with others,” says Pincott. “It makes us more effective leaders because we
have more empathy, which comes from understanding other people’s perspectives.” She advises identifying several “critical friends” and periodically asking them questions like, What am I doing that I should keep doing? What should I stop doing? What about me annoys you?

• Stay true to your own values despite what others expect. There’s sometimes a tug-of-war between what we want and what others expect – parents, teachers, love partners. “People high in both internal and external self-awareness can navigate competing expectations,” says organizational
psychologist Tasha Eurich. They value authenticity and integrity, knowing what they want to do and illuminating it with other perspectives.

• Be open to revising your thinking. “The world doesn’t stand still,” says Pincott. “Situations change. Available information changes. However much we get emotionally attached to our own decisions, however much our opinions and perspectives may have once served us, there comes a point at
which constancy can curdle into rigidity.” Studies show that we’re most open to change when we’re feeling good about ourselves, most resistant to change when we feel threatened and uncertain. Hanging
out with a four-year-old is a good way to see what cognitive flexibility looks like.

• Find ways to tackle tasks you want to avoid. Pincott suggests several approaches: write down how the drudgery will end with a success; gamify the activity, introducing an element of competition; use second-person self-talk (You can crush this, Ted!); bite off a small piece to get started (Just 20 minutes on this and I’ll do something else); and get into a routine (for example, rising at six to exercise).

• Zone in on your purpose in a zoned-out world. “The two most important days in life are the day you are born and the day you discover the reason why,” said Mark Twain. But a sense of big-picture purpose depends on focus and self-regulation, and that’s undermined by the current obsession with
checking social media every few minutes, driven by the fear of missing out on something. “You may want big ideas,” says author Larry Rosen, “but if your attention is jerked away constantly, they won’t come. There’s no time to process anything on a deeper level.” There isn’t even time for the overstimulated brain to daydream. Rosen strongly recommends 30-minute tech breaks. Turning away from the small screen, he says, can reorient us to the big picture.

• Tolerate ambiguity. Uncertainty is a “sure-fire fuel of anxiety,” says Pincott, but it’s part of modern life, and dealing with it has many rewards. “We’re more able to shift gears, experiment, be more flexible, take in new information that we’d otherwise reject, and let a situation develop before pulling the proverbial trigger,” she says. “We’re better able to handle risk and to make decisions without deluding ourselves into thinking we know everything there is to know. In the end, we’re less anxious.” Studies have
shown that one way to make yourself more flexible in uncertain situations is to read fiction. “When nothing is sure,” says novelist Margaret Drabble, “everything is possible.”

“Lessons You Won’t Learn in School” by Jena Pincott in Psychology Today, May/June 2018.