Teachers in Nashua elect to do workshops

NASHUA – As the democratic process unfolds around them, teachers will be in their schools on Election Day taking part in a variety of workshops.

Nine of the city’s 17 schools are used as polling stations and all students have Election Day off. But all teachers are still required to come to work to take part in school-specific workshops.

Ed Hendry, associate superintendent, said instead of focusing on an overarching districtwide initiative, schools were asked to focus on issues they want to see addressed in their buildings.

“Schools have been asking for some time to meet in-house and talk about their own issues,” he said. “This is a good opportunity to do some work within their own building.”

At Main Dunstable Elementary School, where residents in Ward 5 vote, Principal Christopher Gosselin said teachers would be working across grade levels to discuss how to improve student literacy.

Teachers typically have certain expectations of where students should be when they enter their grade, but sometimes those aren’t always clear, he said. This is a chance to communicate those expectations among the entire staff, he said.

Teachers will bring in writing samples from their students and hopefully end the day with a better understanding of what each grade expects, he said.

“They’re going to come out of this with a way to plan better,” Gosselin said.

With record turnouts expected, chaos will likely ensue outside, and Gosselin said they would do their best to keep things as normal as possible.

But it will also be a historic day, he said, and it will be exciting somewhere where voting is taking place.

The city has issued temporary parking passes to teachers and other staff for the day, he said.

The city has imposed a two-hour limit on parking at all of the schools where polling is taking place today to make sure there are places for voters to park.

Kyle Langille, principal of Bicentennial Elementary School, said her staff would focus primarily on science during the day.

The school has been working with a group called New Hampshire Project Learning Tree, and Langille said teachers and representatives from the group would discuss how to use the school’s outdoor classroom.

The workshops are focused on inquiry-based learning, which was a weak area for students on last year’s science assessments, Langille said.

Bicentennial is the polling station for residents of Ward 8. Langille said she hopes the day goes smoothly, despite the expected influx of voters.

“We’ll stay at our end of the building, and they’ll stay at their end of the building, and hopefully we don’t meet,” she said, laughing.

Althea Sheaff, executive director of curriculum and instruction, said schools across the city would focus on a variety of issues.

For example, teachers at Elm Street Middle School are working on school safety and Nashua High School North will be focused on classroom management, she said.