March 2018 Superintendent Message

Dover School Community,


About year ago, an associate introduced me to a series of books written by Matthew Kelly. The major theme of Kelly’s books is the daily invitation to become the-best-version-of-ourselves. Kelly writes from a spiritual perspective, but with a realistic focus about life and the daily life challenges that we all face. I have found his work to resonate with me, and I have found each book to challenge and to inspire me. I have just completed reading Kelly’s book, Perfectly Yourself.

The book present nine lessons that guide the reader in discovering the purpose of one’s life in the pursuit of becoming the-best-version-of-ourselves. I found the lessons to cause me to reflect on my own state-of-mind as well as my purpose, actions, decisions, and treatment of others.

I want to share the nine lessons presented by Matthew Kelly. I believe the lessons have implications for our families, community, and schools. I believe each day we are all striving to become the-best-version-of-ourselves. I believe these lessons can also have a valuable impact on the development of our children’s character and their future view of the world as they strive to discover the-best-versions-of-themselves.

The nine lessons presented by Matthew Kelly are:

  • Celebrate your progress. – Make one resolution at a time and celebrate the progress you make in achieving your resolution. Take time at the end of each day. Even intervals throughout the day, to reflect on the progress you have made. Consider different areas of your life. Never end a period of examination without identifying some progress you have made.


  • Just do the next right thing. – When you honestly make a mistake, own it and do the next right thing to become a-better-version-of-yourself. Whether you are struggling to overcome a pattern of defeat, yearning for inner peace, trying to create lasting happiness, wishing to succeed in your career, desperately trying to overcome procrastination, or battling with an addiction, the lesson holds the key. Just do the next right thing.


  • Put character first. – Work on developing the following virtues in your life: patience, kindness, humility, gentleness, forgiveness, honesty, integrity, and love in myself and others. Putting character first means that we allow our thoughts, decisions, actions, and relationships to become subordinate to the quest to become authentic.


  • Find what you love and do it. – Bringing meaning to your present work by consciously acknowledging that each hour of work, each task, is an opportunity to grow in virtue and character and become a-better-version-of-yourself. Decide the time and move forward in doing the work in which you are most passionate. Once you engage in what you love doing, even if it is just for one hour a day, you will release an enormous amount of passion and energy into your life. Every area of your life will improve because you rediscover your enthusiasm for life.


  • Live what you believe. – Begin to live in all the good things, being mindful that when you act contrary to your beliefs, you invite unhappiness into your life and lives of others. Our core beliefs play a valuable role in our lives. They guide us in times of uncertainty and confusion and allow us to thrive during a constantly changing environment at home, at work, at school, in relationships, and in society.


  • Be disciplined. – Work to control your temper, to control and direct your appetites, and to control your impulses.  Discipline makes us free. It doesn’t stifle us. It liberates us. Discipline is a contraction that produces an expansion.


  • Simplify. – Simplicity is one of the enduring principles of happiness. For decades, we have added layer on layer of complexity to our lives all in the name of progress. Learn to master the moment of decision. Examine the various aspects of life. Be mindful that money and possessions are useful only in as much as they help you and others become the-best-version-of yourself. Unplug the television for one month and invest the time in reading more and spending more time talking to the people you love, whether in person or on the phone.


  • Focus on what you are here to give. – Focusing on what you are here to give is the path to discovering your mission in life and gaining a healthy self-esteem.


  • Patiently seek the good in everyone and everything. – Look for the good in everyone and everything. Proactively seek the good in people and in situations. When you find good, celebrate it by complimenting people and expressing appreciation. Take time to reflect on the good in your life and the lives of others. Patiently seeking the good isn’t always easy, especially when things don’t go well or when people hurt us deeply. And yet for all its hiccups and heartaches, life is worth living, and we generally find what we are looking for. Those who believe people are basically good seem to be happier than those who believe they are not.

I believe Matthew Kelly presents nine powerful lessons that can serve our children and us well as we learn to navigate the complexities and challenges of the world, community, and our families. I challenge myself and you each day to strive to be the-best-version-of yourself. I believe it will make a difference in the quality of life in our families, community, and schools.


William R. Harbron, Ed.D.


 (Note: The above included inserts from the book Perfectly Yourself by Matthew Kelly.)



Dover Schools Updates


The Dover School District is deeply saddened by the tragedy that occurred in Florida recently and sends condolences to the entire Parkland, Florida community. Events like this cause all of us to pause and to consider the safety of our schools which is a priority for the Dover School District.

The Dover School District has school safety and security plans in place and has collaborated with the Dover Police Department in the development of the plan. Training continues for school administrators and staff throughout the school year.  Communication between the School District and Emergency Services is the most effective I have experienced.

A District Safety/Security Committee, comprised of staff, faculty members and representatives of the police and fire departments, meets regularly to plan and to coordinate efforts within the District. Dover Middle and High Schools are staffed with School Resource Officers who are trained and equipped to deal with the type of threats that may be specific to a school. Administrators and School Resource Officers continually share information so that all are well-informed on potential student issues.

Recently, the District was awarded grants from the state to improve schools’ surveillance systems and all systems will be updated with the newest technology.  Each campus regularly practices safety drills, and incidents such as what happened recently remind us all about the importance of preparation and continuous improvement.

It is unfortunate that we have these events in our society, but as more is learned about this and other events we expect conversations to continue, both locally and nationally so that everything possible can be done to protect our students and staff, Safety is the top priority, and we are always working to provide a safe and supportive learning environment for our students and staff.


The state assessment season is starting in New Hampshire. The following is the testing window for the different state tests that will be administered:

March 13, 2018– April 6, 2018:  SAS Math/ELA Summative Assessment Testing    Window (Grades 3 and 4)

April 11, 2018 – April 20, 2018:  SAS Math/ELA/Science Summative Assessment Testing Window (Grades 5 and 6)

May 2, 2018–May 18, 2018:  SAS Math/ELA/Science Summative Assessment Testing Window (Grades 7 and 8)

April 2nd - April 20th (hard wired computers at DHS): - Science Summative Assessment (Grade 11)



  • SAT - 3/10                                                                                     Dover High School
  • Winter Guard Percussion Show - 3/11                  12:00-4:30pm    Dover High School
  • Middle School Art Club - Empty Bowls - 3/14          5:00-7:00pm   Dover Middle School
  • Horne Street School Movie Night - 3/16                  6:30-8:30pm   Horne Street School
  • Sixth Grade Band & Choir Conert - 3/19                  7:00pm          Dover High School
  • 7th-12th Grade Instrumental Concert - 3/20             7:00pm          Dover High School
  • 7th-12th Grade Choral Concert- 3/21                       7:00pm          Dover High School
  • Horne Street School Cultural Festival - 3/22            6:00-7:30pm  Horne Street School 


To date, the Dover School District has had 5 inclement weather days. For your planning purposes, the current last day of school is June 21.  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 has begun the work on the implementation and accountability plan for the 2018-2019 school year.


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 following is a brief summary of what has been accomplished to date by the Dover School District with competency-based education:


  • The Leadership Team received professional development from Bob Renshaw on the next steps in developing action items for our strategic plan and competency education and is ready to begin that work.
  • The Teaching and Learning Committee has begun the process of creating Bridge Documents to facilitate the implementation of the strategic plan and competency work. 
  • K-8 math competencies have been merged into Dover K-8 curriculum maps. Teachers have begun creating math performance tasks on the January workshop day. Each grade level at each school worked on one performance task that will be shared with the other schools.
  • The strategic plan was introduced to the City Council at the joint fiscal meeting.



Following several months of work, the Dover School Board has approved a proposed budget to present to the Dover City Council.  The budget has been based on the Dover School District Strategic Plan and provides the necessary leadership and staff to start the initial work with the strategic plan. 

The Board has approved the addition of Assistant Director of Teaching and Learning as well as the addition of Dean of Teaching and Learning for elementary schools.  Moving to competency-based education is going to require leadership to guide the process and support the implementation of competency-based education.  The curriculum department is being renamed Teaching and Learning.  In addition, Paula Glynn’s title will be changed to Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning.

Pupil Personnel will be changed to Student Services with Christine Boston’s title changing to Assistant Superintendent of Student Services.  Neither of these title changes reflect a change in salary.  The current Special Education Coordinator positions will become Deans of Student Services which will allow for a greater level of supervision.

Other additional positions in the budget are an ESL teacher, IT Technician and a Special Educator for the Dover Middle School.

The Board has decided to move a budget forward that reflects the actual needs of the District.  During the next several months, the Board will be working with the City Council on the finalization of a budget.

The following is a link to the budget presentation:

The information in the budget presentation as well as other budget data guided the Board discussions in the development of the proposed budget.



On January 24, Dover Middle School was visited by the New England League of Middle Schools to determine if the middle school would be renewed as a Spotlight School.  Dover Middle School was notified on January 29 that the school has met the requirements for the continuing status as a Spotlight School.  A copy of the recognition letter follows for your review.



The Screening Committee met on February 8 to review the candidate’s applications.  The District received sixteen applications for the position and selected 3 candidates to move forward in the process.  The process and timeline are as follows:  Interviews were held on February 19 and 22. During the week of February 26, candidates were administered a leadership inventory by Ventures for Excellence. Visitation to the CTC by finalist with a date to be determined and a nomination to the Dover School Board on April 9.



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 happenings occurring in your Dover School District.



During my reading of Perfectly Yourself by Matthew Kelly, I found a nugget that speaks to me as a parent and a grandparent. I share it with you as something to think about and to consider.


To turn our backs on a life of service is to turn our backs on our very selves. Service is at the very core of our identity as human beings, and to neglect our ability to be of service to others is one of the surest ways to misery and quiet desperation. We see this no more vividly demonstrated than by so many young people in today’s culture.


I have noticed that among young people today we are unconsciously promoting a self-centeredness that can absolutely paralyze the human spirit. What I am about to describe is not true of all young people, and of course there are varying degrees, but it applies to enough that we should begin to question some of our assumptions.


When children are born, we nurture and protect them and dote over them. This of course is natural because they are helpless and need us to do this form them. But as they grow older, we indulge them and spoil them. We constantly tell them how cute they are. We buy them what they want so that they won’t cause a scene and often allow them to get away with poor behavior. Perhaps it is that we feel guilty because we don’t spend enough time with them. Maybe we just don’t have the energy. Or perhaps we remember an upbringing that seemed overly strict. But the result is that we are depriving our children by missing these sometimes small but valuable opportunities to install character in their young selves. Before you know it, they are going through puberty and their hormones are raging. This seems an even more challenging time, and there are moments when all we want is to keep the peace, so we tolerate outbursts and other behaviors that we would not normally tolerate. We give them their space and tell ourselves that it is just a phase. Now they are in high school, and we tell them to concentrate on their schoolwork so that they will be accepted to a good college. They exploit this in whatever ways they can-let’s face it, you and I would too-so they explain that they are under pressure with their schoolwork and their commitments, and we buy it, giving them the liberty and fewer responsibilities within the context of family and community. Finally, we send them off to college. By now, they have been well and truly indoctrinated with the cultural philosophy that “you will never have four years like this ever again in your life, so enjoy them. This is your time to have fun, don’t waste it.” Some use the time wisely, but so many others do not, and sooner or later most of them graduate. But they have been trained to focus on themselves. We have trained them. So, we shouldn’t be surprised if they seem at times to be self-interested, self-absorbed, and unable to recognize the needs of others because they are generally consumed with themselves.


At the same time, we hear educators, parents and guidance counselors continue to announce that young people are suffering from ever-decreasing levels of self-esteem. Why? What is it that will make young people feel really good about themselves? It isn’t designer-label clothing and vacationing in the right places every year. It doesn’t even come from excelling at exams or achieving in the sporting arena. Confidence may come from these things, but self-esteem and confidence are not the same thing. So, what is the source of self-esteem?


Having self-esteem and contributing are directly linked to each other. We put so much energy into what our children wear and what they achieve, but so little energy by comparison, into helping them understand who they are and why they really matter. We seem obsessed with helping them to fit in and virtually neglect their real and legitimate need to be comfortable in their own company.


We have betrayed our young people by not instilling in them an understanding of the importance of service in the equation of human happiness. We have not taught them to serve. We have trained them to focus on what they can get rather than what they are here to give. The only valid reason I find for this error is that we have lost sight ourselves of the enormous role that service plays in a life of enduring happiness. But in truth, it probably comes down to practical constraints, such as the fact that in most families today, both parents work.


Too often in society we focus on what personal advantage we gain from a situation. Too often the rights of the individual are celebrated at the expense of the common good. Too often we advocate self-determinism and overlook the fact that our destinies are linked. Too often we allow self-interest to rule our hearts, minds, and spirits and overlook the needs of the people that surround us


Something to think about.