9th Graders get a “Kick Start” in Nashua

9th Graders get a “Kick Start” in Nashua

Since 2010 in the Nashua School District, the Kick Start High School summer program has been offered to a select group of rising freshmen who are not meeting their full potential in school due to poor attendance, performance or test scores.
According to Martine Cloutier of Careers in Education 1 at Nashua High School South, these middle school students are identified and referred by their guidance counselors in an attempt to give them a “kick start” to their high school credits.
“The program is designed to focus on enhancing literacy, numeracy and science skills while demonstrating these skills in real word experiences,” she said.
The Career and Technical Education component is offered during the last 2 weeks of the program as an incentive to get through the summer program and to demonstrate the use of the skills they are learning through hands on applications.
“Students are introduced to 5 different CTE programs through a round robin event that presents them with some of the CTE programs offered at both Nashua High School North and Nashua High School South,” she said. “Students then prepare for interviews, complete with cover letters, and do a rotating interview session with the separate CTE instructors. Once accepted, students participate in 2 different CTE programs.”
According to Cloutier, the Kick Start curriculum incorporates the use of literacy, numeracy and science and helps students make connections to the importance of these skills in potential career pathways after high school.
“This program also helps students gain confidence before coming to high school as they get familiar with the learning environment they are to be part of in the fall,” she said.
Reaction by students has been equally positive, some of whom cite profound benefits. Ciara O’Brien, 11th grader at Nashua High School North, said, “The thing I like the best was how it taught me more responsibility skills and shaped me into a better person…I also learned that being in a CTE will give you more experience and also a chance to get a feel of the career you want to pursue.”
In O’Brien’s case, her participation in Kick Start altered her career aspirations, as she began the program with the intent to become a nurse, but left it with a desire to become a preschool elementary school teacher. She is currently enrolled in Careers in Education.
Samantha Diorio, 11th grader at Nashua High School North, said she also experienced a similar change of heart after completing the program.
“Before Kick Start, I wanted to be a vet or someone who is involved in animal rescue,” she said. “I’ve always had an interest in film—and taking video production in Kick Start [rekindled] my film interest and now I hope to someday be a director.”
According to Cloutier, interest in the program continues to grow with “a significant amount of Kick Start students enrolling in our CTE classes once they are eligible to sign up.”
“The students we have in our current classes come in with an advantage, having had a chance to do some training over the summer,” she added. “It’s a great program.”

9th Graders get a “Kick Start” in Nashua

Nashua CTE students stepping up as ambassadors

The result of a discussion at a Public Relations Committee meeting in the spring of last year, the Ambassador Program at Nashua Technology Center (NTC) has experienced significant success in just its first year. According to Instructor Jeff Leone, who helped develop the program along with Martine Cloutier and Judith Loftus, the impetus behind it was to help current CTE students meaningfully connect with potential prospects.

“In talking with students currently enrolled in CTE programs, many indicated that ‘word of mouth’ and actually having seen the classrooms—a tour, passing in a hallway, having a friend in the program—often was the way they learned about our programs,” he said.
Upon returning to school in the Fall of 2015, he said they asked other CTE instructors to nominate between 3 and 5 of their strongest students to serve as NTC Ambassadors.

“We ended up with over 40 students nominated,” he said. “Ambassadors were asked to attend an initial information meeting where the program was explained to them and applications were completed. We also had the opportunity to speak with these outstanding students about their experiences in the CTE programs and the message they would want to share with other students.”

He said one of the primary goals of the Ambassador Program was to have student representation of their CTE programs at various events throughout the school year. He noted that the biggest event in which the Ambassadors participated was their CTE Round Robin event held the week before course selection. Noting most CTE programs are 2 year programs with students typically beginning in their junior year, Leone said the event provided ambassadors from each CTE program with the opportunity to meaningfully talk to the sophomore class.

“These younger students then had an opportunity to try out the program through a ‘hands on’ experience during our school’s ‘e-block’ period,” he said. “Because the activities were hands on, it was a great way to engage potential students and promote the programs—and because the event was held right at the start of course selection, the courses were fresh in the minds of students.”

What is next?

According to Leone, ambassadors are currently providing tours of CTE programs to administration, community members, and middle school students that visit the high school. He said they have participated in elementary and middle schools’ STEAM nights and will also be involved in their ‘Push Up Night’ for rising 9th graders.

“In the coming months, our CTE instructors will select the next ‘crop’ of students to be Ambassadors for next year and our current Ambassadors will train them,” added Leone, who noted that preliminary numbers show increased CTE enrollment.

Current ambassadors may be the predictor for the program’s ultimate success, as many have expressed enthusiasm regarding their experience. One current ambassador remarked, “I’ve been able to promote a class I love and see other people get excited to take it. I’ve also been able to see what other CTE programs are like, which can be helpful when helping someone figure out what classes they should take.”
Expressing excitement at its future, Leone said the Ambassador Program underscores a very important message, which he hopes reaches communities outside CTE.

“Career and Technical Education is real life education,” he explained. “It prepares students for what they can expect in the real world, gives them hands-on experience, and simulates real life situations.”

He also expressed admiration and respect for the role the ambassadors have played in the program’s initial success.
“These students are the best of the best,” he said. “They are practicing their skills learned in their respective classes by selling it to others, teaching skills they have learned, and sharing their experiences, and how it has helped mold them as a future professional and as a person.”

High School Senior Strikes Gold

High School Senior Strikes Gold

In just her second year as a welding student, Senior Kayleigh Eastman has already experienced tremendous success, as she recently won gold in the SkillsUSA NH welding competition. For Dennis Carrier, her instructor at the Berlin Regional Career & Technical Center, her accolade exemplifies a winning attitude.
“Kayleigh is an achiever who works hard in the shop and utilizes her time in to become the best she can be,” he noted. “She was also willing to spend time after school in the shop a few days a week for the month prior to the competition.”
In winning the state championship, which entailed that she complete a written test and demonstrate her skills in four practical welding processes, Kayleigh qualified for the national championship in June in Kentucky. It is an opportunity no female has ever experienced in New Hampshire before.
“Both my teacher and I remember having a conversation and I said that I wanted to be the first girl to make it to nationals,” she said. “I am still in disbelief that I accomplished this because this has been a dream of mine since I was in the introductory class.”
Noting that winning the award has made her feel “very thankful for being able to be in such a great program,” Kayleigh acknowledged she had to dig deep in order to achieve her goal.
On competition day, I was a bit nervous, but the judges did a good job of creating a welcoming environment for all of the competitors,” she said.
“Winning the state competition was an especially great honor since I was the only girl,” she added. “Being the only girl was something that further fueled my initiative to get better because I wanted to prove girls can weld just as good.”
While demonstrating proficiency in welding is of course critical, Carrier cited other practical skills that are developed in the CTE program.
Throughout the program, she has learned leadership skills, the ability to work independently, and how to work with others to complete projects,” he said. “She has also learned how to perform under pressure.”
For Kayleigh, her experience in the welding program at the Berlin Regional Career & Technical Center has been decidedly positive.
“My favorite part of the program is being in a class that feels like a family,” she said. “Everyone is very supportive of each other. The program also offers many great opportunities like being able to compete for SkillsUSA and having the option to get certified in Structural Steel Unlimited.”

About SkillsUSA

SkillsUSA is an applied method of instruction for preparing America’s high performance workers in public career and technical programs. It provides quality education experiences for students in leadership, teamwork, citizenship and character development. It builds and reinforces self-confidence, work attitudes and communications skills.
SkillsUSA is a national nonprofit organization serving teachers, high school and college students who are preparing for careers in trade, technical and skilled service occupations, including health occupations. SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry representatives’, working together to ensure America has a skilled work force. To learn more, visit SkillsUSA.org.

Making the Cut

Making the Cut

While known as a quiet young man, Portsmouth High School Senior and Culinary Arts student Carson Crisp is racking up accolades that will soon make it difficult for him to not step into the spotlight.

“I personally think I am more amazed at what he has accomplished than he is of himself,” noted Chef Perrin Long, who is Crisp’s Culinary Arts instructor.

Some of Crisp’s most notable accomplishments include first place at NH’s SkillsUSA Hot Food Competition last March followed by a 7th place finish at the Skills USA National Championship in Lexington, KY in June. Most recently, he earned the coveted ProStart National Certificate of Achievement. To earn the certificate, students pass two national exams, demonstrate a mastery of foundational skills and work 400 mentored hours.

“It is a great feeling that after my two years of work I’ve completed all the necessary requirements to receive my COA [Certificate of Achievement],” Crisp noted. “It is made better by knowing that I am one a few students—if not the first—in NH to receive this award.”

Earning a COA provides students with distinct advantages in their job searches and opens the door to collegiate opportunities, as numerous restaurant, foodservice and hospitality programs offer benefits to ProStart graduates. These benefits include scholarships, class credits and credit towards work experience requirements.

According to Chef Long, Crisp distinguishes himself in one key way. “Carson has the ability to absorb and synthesize important culinary concepts and translate them effectively in how he cooks and works in the kitchen,” he said.

Noting he has been accepted to the Culinary Institute of America, Chef Long said Crisp’s restaurant experience includes a position at Martingale Wharf, while he is currently employed by Chef Matt Louis at the Franklin Oyster House in Portsmouth. In looking ahead for Crisp, he said his immediate future entails trying to replicate his success from last year.

His next competition is the NH Skills USA Culinary Competition on Friday March 18th at the Seacoast School of Technology in Exeter. (Writer’s note: Crisp won gold again and will head back to Louisville in June. Follow-up article to appear in next month’s newsletter).

“This is the competition he won last year—and if he can place 1st again he would again travel to Louisville, KY in June,” Chef Long added.

Expressing his belief he is ready for this next round of competitions, Crisp acknowledged he did not feel quite so confident last year. Citing Chef Long’s encouragement as essential, he said he could not help but smile as he walked up to receive his award.

“I went into the national competition feeling more confident in my skills than when I went to states,” he said. “At the end of the competition, I felt I had done my best and was happy with what I had done. When I found out I had placed 7th in the nation, it was a great feeling because that is the highest any culinary competitor from New Hampshire had placed.”

As for where he imagines Crisp will be in 10 years, Chef Long said the sky is the limit.

“I would imagine he would be a Sous Chef at high level restaurant, perhaps a Chef at a smaller restaurant or even own his own business,” he said. “As you know, it is hard to qualify what success looks like for anyone individual. I simply know in my heart that success is likely to find Carson.”

Carson’s Accomplishments to Date

Two 1st Place Finishes in NH Pro Start State Competition(Team) 2014, 2015
Two First Place Finishes in the Maine-NH Pro Start Invitational Challenge(Team) 2014, 2015
Two Gold Medals in Skills USA Culinary Competition, 2015, 2016
7th Place in the Nation at Skills USA National Championships (2015)
Outstanding Culinary Student of the Year Award(PHS) 2015
Pro Start Certificate of Achievement (2016)
Accepted to the Culinary Institute of America

Breaking Barriers

Breaking Barriers

There are many barriers for success that face today’s kids, but especially for girls, who often fight stigmas that still guide today’s societal view of what women should and should not do for a career.

According to Generation STEM: What Girls Say About Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, a 2012 report by the Girl Scout Research Institute, though, “Women account for about only 20% of the bachelor’s degrees in engineering, computer science, and physics…Regardless of the specific area of STEM, only about 25% of these positions are held by women.”

Breaking Barriers

During the week of March 14th in 2016, the fourth annual Girls Technology Day will help students take that first step into STEM related fields. The event is co-sponsored by the NH Department of Education in partnership with the NH Community College System and the New Hampshire High Tech Council.

“The event will focus on freshmen and sophomore students because that is the age when many students begin focusing on interests that ultimately may become career paths,” said Courtney Ritchings, Education Consultant, Career Development Bureau of the NH Department of Education.

As for the success of prior Girls Technology Days, several students cited an increased awareness regarding the role of stigma in today’s society.

“Girls should be encouraged that the state of being ‘smart’ does not make them appear less attractive,” said Chloe Raymond, Nashua High School North.

Classmate Hannah Dobson added, “To keep girls’ minds open, old stereotypes should not be passed down to future generations.”

According to Ritchings, workshops at this year’s events will enable students to explore diverse topic, including 3D Modeling, Game Programming, App Development for Mobile Devices, Ethernet Cable, Building, and Metrology. Workshops will be led by local educators and industry leaders, such as Autodesk, Lonza Biologics, Hinton Technical Services, Albany Engineered Composites, ReVision Energy and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

Citing next year’s event will double in size from this year, Ritchings said its continued growth speaks to a real demand that more students access STEM programming. “This year’s capacity is for 950 young women to attend a ‘STEM-spirational event’ that will expose them to many career and postsecondary opportunities in STEM fields,” she added.

In addition to workshops, students will have the opportunity to attend a vendor fair during their lunch break where they may learn about college options, career opportunities and see more technologies at work.

For past attendees, the event not only introduces new opportunities in STEM related fields, it helps shed light that issues of inequality must be discussed and better addressed in society.

“We need to treat both boys and girls the same from day one,” said Alexandria Baker, Pinkerton Academy. “Tell them that they can be whatever they want.”

Laura Griffin of Pinkerton Academy added, “Former NASA ambassador and actress Nichelle Nichols said, ‘Science is not a boy’s game, it’s not a girl’s game. It’s everybody’s game. It’s about where we are and where we’re going.’ More strong women like this need to be shown in the media just like this.”

As far as Ritchings is concerned, it is these kinds of sentiments they hope to foster within participants as well as an understanding as to the kinds of opportunities that exist in STEM related fields.

“This is an exciting opportunity to invest in the futures of these young women as well as the economic vitality of NH,” added Ritchings.

To learn more about Girls Technology Days 2016, visit www.nhgirlstechnologyday.com. If you are interested in becoming an industry partner, contact Ritchings at Courtney.Ritchings@doe.nh.gov or Jennifer Kiley at Jennifer.Kiley@doe.nh.gov.

Dates & Locations

Tuesday, March 15 @ Concord’s Community College in Concord

Wednesday, March 16 @ Great Bay Community College in Portsmouth

Thursday, March 17 @ University of New Hampshire- Durham Campus

Friday, March 18 @ Manchester Community College in Manchester