November 2017

Dover School Community,

A good friend introduced me to the book The Carpenter by Jon Gordon. The main character of the book is Michael. The book opens with Michael waking up in the hospital with his head bandaged and fear in his heart. While on a morning jog, he collapses on the street from the stress of a growing business he started with his wife Sarah. Michael discovers his life was saved by a carpenter.

Michael quickly learns that he is more than a carpenter. The carpenter is a builder of lives, careers, people, and teams. The carpenter teaches Michael the three key strategies for a successful life are to love, serve, and care.

The carpenter shared the following with Michael:

  • I vow to stay positive in the face of negativity.
  • When I am surrounded by pessimism, I will choose optimism.
  • When I feel fear, I will choose faith.
  • When I want to hate, I will choose love.
  • When I want to be bitter, I will choose to get better.
  • When I experience a challenge, I will look for an opportunity to learn and grow.
  • When faced with adversity, I will find strength.
  • When I experience a setback, I will be resilient.
  • When I meet failure, I will fall forward, toward future success.
  • With vision, hope, and faith, I will never give up and will always move forward toward my destiny.
  • I believe my best days are ahead of me, not behind me.
  • I believe I’m here for a reason and my purpose is greater than my challenges.
  • I believe that being positive not only makes me better, it makes everyone around me better.
  • So today and every day I will be positive and strive to make a positive impact on the world.

Throughout our lives we are faced with challenges. During those challenging times, I believe we can learn and grow. As parents and guardians, when our children are working through a challenging situation we can provide support and guidance or solve the problem for them. The growth occurs when our children work through their challenges. For our children to experience successful growth, they require our love and care.

 In conjunction with this, the Dover School District is also committed to assisting and supporting our students in development of social competencies. The identified social competencies are inclusive of collaboration, communication, respect, responsibility, and perseverance. The overall social competencies are further defined by grade level bands. The following is an example of the Kindergarten through Second Grade Band for the five areas. The other grade level bands are 3-4, 5-6, 7-8, 9-10, and 11-12.

 Collaboration – The collaborative student will:

  • Listen to others and cooperate with peers and adults
  • Take turns and share materials and ideas
  • Actively participate in classroom activities

Communication – The communicative student will:

  • Use “I-statements” to clearly express needs and is able to ask for help
  • Share information, experiences, and opinions
  • Listen and respond appropriately to feedback with support
  • Join in and/or invite others to play

Respect – The respectful student will:

  • Use appropriate tone and language with peers and adults
  • Care for classroom materials
  • Honor personal space and learning time of others with support
  • Treat others as he/she wants to be treated
  • Accept differences

Responsibility – The responsible student will:

  • Keep brain and body in the group
  • Take care of belongings and classroom materials
  • Complete work in a timely manner

Perseverance – The resilient student will:

  • Keep trying even when it’s hard
  • Try to solve problems on his/her own
  • Show self-control even when frustrated
  • Show determination to be successful

I found the carpenter’s words to resonate with me. During the challenging and demanding times, the carpenter’s thoughts are sound advice. If we equip our children with the thoughts of the carpenter, they will be prepared to face those challenging and difficult times with a positive attitude and resilience. I believe these are wonderful gifts we can give our children on their road to adulthood.

 Strategic Plan

I shared in the September Superintendent message that the Dover Schools are engaged in the process of developing a five-year strategic plan. In October, the strategic plan work continued. A small group representing the SAU and schools assembled to refine and align the work of the different school based groups working on the plan.

The Strategic Plan Steering Committee held a second meeting in late October to review the small group work. The Steering Committee provided valuable feedback requires further revision and refinement of the strategic plan. The small group will hold a second meeting to do further refinement based on the recommendations of the Strategic Plan Steering Committee.

On the November 13 Board meeting, the Dover School Board will have the opportunity to review the plan and provide additional feedback for revisions at its first reading.  Based on the Board’s feedback further revisions may be made in the plan.

The Dover School Board is scheduled to take final action on the plan at the December 11.

To date, the following are the strategic plan goals:

GOAL 1: The Dover School District will improve educational outcomes for students by effectively engaging with the broader community.

GOAL 2: The Dover School District will develop and sustain a culture that is characterized by optimizing social, emotional, civic, physical, and rigorous academic learning.

GOAL 3: The Dover School District is committed to continue investments in infrastructure to support student learning inclusive of facilities, technology, and safety-security.

GOAL 4: The Dover School District will recruit, hire, develop and retain effective and caring educators and support them in their growth as strong community members.

Competency Based Education

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.

Currently, the education system measurers student progress in terms of instructional hours, not student learning, as long as a student logs the necessary hours and receives a passing grade, he/she can move on to the next grade or course, regardless of gaps in his/her understanding. This time-based practice leaves students susceptible to moving on to material before they are ready, or remaining stuck in a subject that have already mastered. Competency-based education place the emphasis on learning and being able to apply your learning in different situations.

An example of a “real life Competency” is getting a driver’s license. To get a license, the new driver must demonstrate an understanding of how to drive a car, along with demonstrating competency in knowing the rules of the road. For some individuals, taking a driver’s test is a once in a lifetime event, while for others, it may take multiple times to pass the driving test.

In thinking about competencies, the Dover staff recognize that students learn at different rates. Some students simply need more time to work with a competency, while others may demonstrate competency in a specific area at a faster rate. We also recognize that all students have different social skill needs and strengths. We are not talking about students “skipping grades” or “staying back,” but rather how we can best support everyday each child’s learning.

 The following links can provide you with additional information:

As we continue to move forward with the design and implementation of competency-based education, the Dover Schools will be sharing our next steps and progress with you. There is much to accomplish before implementation of this meaningful and challenging work.

 Garrison Elementary School Project

The Garrison Elementary School remodeling and modernization project will be getting underway in January. The original school was built in 1962 with additions in 1967, 1999, 2005, and 2006. The JBC requested a facilities analysis consisting of learning environments; code concerns; health, safety, and security; deferred maintenance, and energy efficiency. The analysis findings identified the following scope of the renovation:

  Classroom Renovations:

  • Replace VAT Flooring (Health/Safety/Security)
  • HVAC
  • Replace lighting (Efficiency, Learning Environment)
  • Upgrade finishes (Learning Environment)
  • Replace doors and Hardware (Code, Health/Safety/Security)
  • Replace Exterior Windows (Efficiency, Health/Safety/Security)
  • Replace Built-ins (Learning Environment, Code)
  • Replace sinks

 Facilities Analysis:

  • Boiler Plant – Replace the original 1962 Boiler, Combustion Air, Controls (Efficiency, Deferred Maintenance)
  • Electrical Distribution, Panelboards, and Circuiting (Efficiency, Deferred Maintenance)
  • Original portion of the school (1960’s vintage)
  • Eliminate old antiquated equipment
  • Eliminate aluminum feeders
  • Eliminate non-metallic sheathed (Romex) cabling
    • Main Electric Room – remove the original switchboard currently used as junction and extend feeders. Add receptacle circuits throughout the school – particularly in classrooms.
    • Lighting (Efficiency, Health/Safety/Security, Deferred Maintenance, Code, Learning Environment)
  • Replace all lighting in the original portion of the school (1960’s vintage)
  • Replace all interior and exterior metal halide fixtures

 The architect is Harriman and Associates and the construction manager is Harvey Construction. The project will be completed in phases to allow for the appropriate funding of the project. Phase 1 will begin in January and will expand eighteen-month period. The following is the scope of the Renovation in Phase 1 at the investment of just under $7.5 million:


    • Power and data
    • Storage
    • Flooring
    • Doors and Hardware
    • Windows/sliders
    • Sinks


  • Building
  • HVAC
  • Ventilation
  • Lighting
  • Bathrooms – ADA compliant
  • Heating plant
  • Electrical distribution
  • Emergency lighting


The Dover Schools will introduce the Dover Schools Facebook Page starting in November. It will serve as way to keep you informed of the news and happenings in the Dover School District.  Josh Brennick will be managing the page for the District. Be sure to “Like” the Page by visiting

In addition, the District recognizes its website needs improvement. Currently, the District is researching three proposals and interviewing the providers. All three companies will greatly enhance the site, so it becomes more user friendly and provides the information needed by the community. Once the vendor is selected, 14 weeks will be required to develop the new site.

I continue to be impressed with the community’s pride in the City of Dover as well as the Dover School District. It is not an arrogant pride, but pride that demonstrates what has been accomplished with a focus on how can we can continue improve the quality of life for all citizens inclusive of our children and the youth. It is exciting time to serve in the Dover Schools. I will continue to strive to keep you informed of what is occurring in the Dover School District.



William R. Harbron, Ed.D.