Manchester High School awarded $450,000 through Nellie Mae Education Foundation

By Christian Mysliwiec - Staff Writer
Manchester - posted Fri., Apr. 12, 2013
Manchester High School Principal Matthew Geary said the grant will help the school meet Common Core Standards and improve student learning. Photo courtesy of - Contributed Photo

Manchester High School recently announced that the school will be receiving a 20-month, $450,000 grant from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation. “The grant will help Manchester High School build capacity to enable more students to achieve at higher levels and meet the Common Core State Standards through the implementation of systemic approaches to student-centered learning,” stated MHS Principal Matthew Geary.

NMEF is the largest charitable organization focusing exclusively on education in New England. NMEF is awarding this grant through the New Approaches in Urban Districts initiative, which seeks to promote “student-centered learning” by encouraging educational development in students within – and outside of – a classroom setting. MHS applied for the grant in November, and in January, NMEF conducted a site visit at the high school, meeting with teachers, administrators, district leaders, members of the Board of Education and parents. Based on the application and visit, NMEF awarded Manchester the grant, as well as six other school districts: Hartford, Meriden, New Haven, Providence, R.I., Chelsea, Mass., and Revere, Mass. The recipients were selected from a total of 22 applicants.

The use of the grant to support the school's “systemic remodeling” includes changes in several areas, culture and leadership, teaching and learning, and public understanding and support. These changes include increasing the use of professional learning communities, or groups of teachers within disciplines who collaborate with each other to provide students a more thorough experience.

Increased professional development will also be implemented as a result of the grant. Staff will attend workshops and conferences and receive coaching to learn how to better enact instructional best practices in the classroom.

With the achievement gap a perennial area of concern in the Manchester school district, the grant will also be used to close the gap both in the high school and through Manchester public schools by expanding new and existing interventions for struggling students. Manchester's goal and the intent of the Common Core State Standards to “increase the level of rigor” for all students will also be supported by the grant.

The grant will also be used to update the high school's Wi-Fi network. This is one step in an initiative that will ensure that the majority of students have access to the Internet. “In the next two years our goal is for all students to have access to an electronic device, either tablet or laptop, through a formalized Bring Your Own Device program along with district-provided tablets and laptops for students who are unable to afford their own device,” said Geary. “Funds from this grant would support the purchase of devices that have Internet capability for those students who cannot afford them.”

Funds will also be used to allow the Career Center to be opened longer and to expand the center's programs. The grant will also be used to support a journalist visitor to work with students and staff involved with maintaining the school's website and social media presence, MHSRedline. The journalist will share “private-sector practices.” Smart phones and tablets will also be purchased with the grant to enable students and staff to update the site live when they are away from the high school.

“I am excited to have additional resources to continue our work to transform Manchester High School into a model for urban secondary education and as always, look forward to our work together,” said Geary.

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