Tag Archive | Principal

The Sad State Of New Hampshire Education.

by Anura Guruge

Not the end of the world, but it makes you think.

The above graphic tells it all.

My daughter found it hilarious in that she is NO stranger to astronomy — which is why she picked the elective, knowing that she can breeze through.

Yes, being my daughter she is, of course, atypical. Not too many teenagers that can claim that they have a book on Dwarf Planets with their name and eyes on the cover.

I have had ‘this’ discussions with Superintendents and principals before. You do not have to be a subject matter expert to teach a class in New Hampshire. But, when you get to Grade 11 — and stuff like planets and constellations is not that hard.

Funny this. I wrote that “Dwarf Planet” book when Devanee was taught, in 2010, that Pluto was a planet, when it had ceased to be so in 2006.

Never mind. Just makes you think.

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by Anura Guruge

Mill Hill (Public) School, London, My Ol’ Alma Mater, Gets First Female Headmaster, Mrs Frances King.

Anura Guruge December 2014 thumbnail.

by Anura Guruge

Related Posts:
** Millhillians of my era.
John Cranwell …
** Two expressions from Mill Hill.

>> Allegations re. Winston Churchill.

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From my favorite newspaper, the U.K. “Daily Mail”. Click to access Mrs. King article.

Wow! Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose (the more things change, the more they stay the same) sure does NOT apply here. First female head — of what used to be, even when I entered, kicking and screaming, in 1969, an all boys school. Yes, in my last year, two years later, they did let in some 6 young ladies, strictly as day scholars. But the boarding school was still all male.

We didn’t even really have any female teachers. Yes, there was a female that taught, just “Use of English”, and she did that on an ad hoc basis in that she was the then Headmaster’s wife, Mrs. Hart. She was American to boot. Savor the irony. The only female teacher at an all boys school teaching “Use of English” was a Yank. A very nice one at that — probably because she was American. She was the first person to encourage me to write. I wonder if she is around. It would give her a kick to see what happened to her unruly student.

The new female head is the Mrs Frances King, who from the quick Googling I did (when I heard the news, via an e-mail) is quite famous for leaving Britain in a huff, for Switzerland, because she was was not happy with the prevailing British attitude to private schooling. Not sure why she is coming back. Is she implying that things have changed. I doubt it.

That she was Headmistress at Roedean is kind of funny. In my short time at Mill Hill, before I was summarily expelled, Roedean epitomized the snooty girl’s boarding schools that we loved to make fun of — along the lines of “OK girls, lights out, candles in …”. What can I say. We were teenagers. I will, however, spare you the sound effects.

That her Bachelor’s is in theology from Oxford is also interesting. Theology? Wow.

Of course the school is not the same as what it was 44 years ago. A female head will certainly be different. I wish all of them the best.

Alton Central School (ACS), To Their Credit, And Amazingly, Taking Part In ‘Code Day’ To Expose Kids To The JOYS Of Programming.

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013.

Anura Guruge

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Yes, they had sent flyers home.

But, I only really heard about it last Tuesday at the ACS ‘junior school’ concert when the Principal spoke about it twice (one in each ‘half’). Since I had NOT read the flyer and I could only go by what the Principal was saying I had NO IDEA what this was all about. The Principal spoke MAINLY about all the FREE food that will be available and the local restaurants that are kindly donating that food. I am glad. But, I wished she had STRESSED, did a little jig, and explained that this was an initiative to expose kids to the unmitigated JOYS of programming. Yes, I appreciate, that the Principal, the Superintendent, William (Bill) Lander and the School Board are extremely ‘oral‘ — but a little bit of elucidation about the ‘code‘ aspect of the evening as opposed to the ‘gastronomic‘ would have been cool.

That ACS is taking part in ‘Code Day‘ is cool.

Not sure whether the kids will get a full, uninterrupted HOUR to write some code that evening — but this is a good start. I just hope the kids aren’t distracted by the food. Hopefully, and this is a BIG hope, some of the teachers will try and continue this program sans the free food. But, to be fair, Devanee was taught MIT’s SCRATCH ‘animated programming’ a couple of years ago at ACS. So, that was good.

See below, after the images as to why I am so gung ho about kids getting exposed to the JOYS of programming.


Click to ENLARGE. Use link below to access Website.

Link to access Website.

Link to access Website.


Click to access article …

I got a chance, in 1969, yes 1969, to take weekly 90 minute Computer Programming classes in school, viz. Mill Hill School in North London (also attended by Denis Thatcher and where James Murray, the primary editor of the Oxford English Dictionary once taught).

It was every Thursday and the classes were sponsored by the British International Computers Limited (ICL). They provided each of us with a BIG light green binder about computers and programming. I had yet to see a computer! But, computer programming and I clicked. Duck to the water. Natural affinity.

In those days there were no PCs. We didn’t have any terminals at the school. We wrote our programs on coding sheets; a practice that I continued to use, off and on, even when I worked for IBM, 8 years later — though by the time I was at IBM, and writing microcode, for the 3270 display system, I was classed as a programmer who wrote his code in ink (which I often did do) as opposed to pencil (because I was sure of what I was coding).

Our coding sheets were sent by mail (which is always overnight in the U.K.) to ICL. They punched it onto paper tape and ran it. The next Thursday we would get back our original coding sheets, the paper tape and the computer output. If you made a mistake you program would not have done what you wanted. But, it took a week to find out.

The rest is history. I went to Swansea College, University of Wales, to ‘study’ a 3-year B. Sc. course in Computer Technology. I, for the first time in my life, had unlimited access to computer resources. I programmed like I was possessed (in between near non-stop fornication). I had a great 3 years at Swansea. By my 2nd year at Swansea Ph. D. students were coming to me for help with their programs! One of my lecturers told IBM about me. IBM hired me during my 2nd year, after getting me to sit three IQ tests (as is permissible in the U.K., one of them at 10 pm at night) and told me that I can start work whenever I wanted — with or without a degree. Since I was having so much fun and really didn’t want to work — I hung around Swansea for another year and did get my 1st degree. Yes, I also do have a M. Sc. in Computer Science from the University of London — paid for by IBM.

Programming has been good for me, though in reality I didn’t write that much code professionally! I was considered ‘too good’ to just write code! A sign of the time. IBM and others wanted me to do more ‘executive’ tasks or do much more technical tasks such as Systems Programming or crafting microcode. I was IBM youngest ‘Planner’ — essentially a Product Manager. But, I wrote code in my ‘spare’ time — a program that I wrote as such in my spare time, which I called ‘NDSIO’, ‘New Display System Input/Output‘, where the ‘NDS’ was the now legendary 3270 display system, became a primary testing tool within IBM in the U.K., U.S. and Germany.

So, I am all in favor of kids being taught to program early.

Alton Central STILL Looking For Parents To Coach ‘Destination Imagination’!

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013.

Anura Guruge

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Click to ENLARGE.

Click to ENLARGE.

I already said my piece about this two weeks ago.

We are now going into the 2nd week of November. Soon it will be Thanksgiving.

It is TOO LATE to realistically start a DI team. It is not fair on the kids!

DI is a lot of work. Hours expended matters and counts.

When you go to the first regional meet it is NOT FAIR on the kids if they are competing against kids who have had a month or more of lead time.

I watch the kids’ eyes as they look at their peers from other schools competing. You can read their emotions. When they see performances vastly superior to their own, PARTLY because they spent much, much, much more time, you can see the awe and disappointment in their eyes. They would have liked to have done something like that too — but they never had the time.

That is why I am OPPOSED to having teams that start late. DI is for the kids. Don’t burden them with disadvantages even before they start.

Then there is my other pet peeve. Why can’t this principal order some of her teachers to be the DI coaches? I am a great believer that each DI team should be coached by a school teacher assisted by a parent.

Destination Imagination (DI) When It Comes To Alton Central School (ACS) & New Hampshire (NH-DI).

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013.

Anura Guruge

Related post:
>> Conflicts of Interests Bothers Me
>>Mar. 28, 2012.

Let me start off with two opening statements to make sure that everybody appreciates where I am coming from.

1. Everything I am going to say here, I have said before, to the pertinent ACS staff, NH-DI officials, the DI mother organization and even to Mrs. Michelle Obama! So, as far as I am concerned, this is a well trodden path for me.

2. I used to be huge, huge, huge proponent, believer and flag-bearer for DI and I think, deep down, I still believe that DI is a good thing. All four of my kids, going back to c. 1996, have done DI. Matthew did DI for at least 4 years and made it to Globals twice (in a 3 year period). Matthew, now a rampant over-achiever (who puts me to shame), can often be heard singing the praises of DI and readily claiming that DI helped him tremendously in making him what he is today: ultra-confident, creative and a go-getter. I have been to well over 20 DI meets. I was an assistant coach at ACS 2010 – 2011. Deanna & I were both DI coaches 2011 – 2012. I was a DI appraiser in 2012.

So that is the background. These days I have issues with both DI at ACS and DI-NH. They are different issues and I will address them separately. I really don’t want to offend or upset anybody, unduly, and as such I am going to be as gentle and innocuous as possible and resort to as many euphemisms as I can — though I do want to make sure that there is no confusion as to what I am trying to say.

Click to ENLARGE.

Click to ENLARGE.

DI at Alton Central School (ACS)

The above, sent out Thursday night (10/10/2013), by ACS Principal Sydney Leggett, is the 3rd ACS Newsletter in a row, that had this Destination Imagination plea. The first two times I decided that I will keep my big mouth shut. When I saw it again on Thursday night, the Rubicon was crossed.

I have two issues here:

1/ It is getting LATE to start a DI team. Even if they get coaches signing up this coming week it will be the 4th week in October before they can have their first meeting. To me that is TOO LATE and unfair to the kids. NH schools with a proper DI cultures, like Hooksett, Bow, Gorham, where they have DI committees that meet year round, would have started their meetings by (latest) the third week of September. The number of meetings matter. So as far as I am concerned if you haven’t formed a team by the third week in October, call it a day for the year and move on. While winning isn’t everything, and competing alone is rewarding, I am a staunch believer that all kids should only ever compete on a LEVEL PLAYING FIELD. If not, it is not fair on the kids. So if our ACS kids start a month behind other kids that will always show when it comes to the meets. That distresses me. It is NOT their fault that they missed a month of meetings. It is the fault of the the ADULTS at ACS. I do NOT want to see ACS kids at a disadvantage because the ADULTS let them down. Have I made myself clear.

2/ Mrs. Leggett and I have had various ‘discussions’ on this 2011 – 2012. What I never did, and maybe I should have done, was take one of my old gloves (i.e. gauntlet) to school with me and throw it down at her feet and make it very official that I am challenging her to make this happen. What do I want her to do: ‘get ACS TEACHERS, especially all the science teachers, to be DI coaches’. Plain and simple. Mrs. Leggett should not be trying to find parents to be DI coaches. Yes, parents should be assistant coaches as I was in 2010 – 2011 — helping an ACS teacher. Why am I so adamant on this. Because this pertains to the culture of ACS. In terms of ALL of the non-sporting after school activities, coaching DI, indubitably, is the MOST time-consuming (if you are going to do it right). Zumba-whatever, may involve more physical effort for an hour, but in terms of hours a week, plus the two or three weekends, DI coaching takes up a lot of your time. I know. But, it is worthwhile. That MORE ACS teachers won’t do it is an indictment on ACS and the principal. I have challenged her on this before, without throwing down the symbolic gauntlet, but now I challenge her again: ‘Mrs. Leggett, get your teachers to COACH DI. Every ACS DI team should be led by a teacher. Recruit parents as assistant coaches’.


1/ The appraiser conflicts of interests that I spelled out in this post, and was responded to by NH-DI, still bother me. But, that is my opinion and nobody will convince me that it is the right thing. So, as ever, I am doing the right thing as far as I am concerned, which is all that I can do: I am staying away from DI-NH.

2/ Something else that bothered me greatly with NH-DI, probably as much of the ‘conflicts’, was the ‘image’ portrayed by the ‘adult’ NH-DI officials. ACS parents that attended the various DI meets with me will know that I fumed, muttered and ranted about: ‘This is not right. This upsets me …’ Let me say this as delicately as possible. I don’t want to take kids (and by kids, I refer to all kids in my charge and not just my own) to a so called ‘leadership event’ where more than 50% of the ‘adult’ officials do not meet the ‘BMI 25‘ criteria. I do not want my kids to listen to a mid-40s guy, who looks like he is 7 months pregnant, with twins, prancing around, going ‘Look at me. I am the face of DI. You too can be like me. This is what you are striving for …’. I want folks that look like Mittens Romney, Paul Ryan, Ted Cruz, Michele Bachmann, John Boehner, the President, Michelle Obama, Joe Biden, Dr. Mrs. Jill Biden, John Kerry etc. etc. standing up and serving as the role models for my kids. I don’t want kids to think that DI takes the place of sports and exercise — and given the time commitment that DI imposes, this can be an issue. I don’t want kids to think that you can’t be nerdy (a Geek) and a jock (Cool) at the same time. I told DI, in 2011, both NH and ‘mothership’, that I would like to see at least ONE DI challenge that was all about physical fitness or nutrition. I haven’t looked at this year’s challenges. But, until I see that NH-DI, takes this to heart, I am not going to take a team to a NH-DI meet. Again, this is my take. I don’t ask anybody to do anything I would not do. I write this after my 6 days a week, huff, puff and wheeze trudge up Prospect Mountain, wearing 5 pounds of wrist weights — and I won’t mention names, but I this morning, I was 10 minutes faster than a youngster young enough to be my grand-daughter.

Enough said.

Alton Central School (ACS) Board Votes 3 – 2 AGAINST ‘Common Core’ — Whatever The Vote Was Supposed To Mean!

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013.

Anura Guruge

Related posts:
>> How come no ACS teachers attended … — Aug. 10, 2013.
>> ACS Board Aug. 8 Workshop … — Aug. 9, 2013.
>> ACS Workshop … should be hilarious — July 31, 2013.
>> ACS board not 100% behind Common Core? — June 11, 2013.

++++ Do a SEARCH on ‘Common Core’ or ‘Alton Central’ from
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The ACS School Board vote at the September 16, 2013, meeting, however pathetic it might have been, duly confirmed my contention following the June Board Meeting that the ACS Administration and staff did NOT have the Board backing when it comes to Common Core.

This is why I have agitated, as the minutes from the Board meeting clearly show, to get a straight up-down vote from the Board on this.

It happened and it came out as I had expected — with the Board showing its contempt for ‘CC’.

I knew how Steve Miller was going to vote. He had already stated his support for CC for the record.

I was glad and impressed that Sandy Wyatt voted for CC. It is now official: Deanna and I think she is GOOD, VERY GOOD.

I had planned to get up at the first public input session and ask the Principal why teachers from ACS had not attended the Board meetings to present their side of the story.

Though I did bring it up, I did not have to. There were about 7 or 8 (maybe more) ACS teachers present, led by 6th grade teacher Mr. Richard Kirby, who I think represents the ACS teachers in some capacity. He stood up and spoke maybe four times. He did a good job of refuting the crazy claims about CC and also clearly stating the case of the teachers as to why they are in favor of CC. Thank you Mr. Kirby. Mr. Kirby, however, is not a lawyer nor a politician and as such was not as forceful as he should have been with the rebuttals. I see that a lot with teachers. They kind of get out of practice arguing with adults.

I was delighted to see Carol Locke, the Principal of Gilmanton School, at the meeting to defend and promote CC and also to unequivocally refute some crazy statements related to teachers resigning from Gilmanton because of CC that had been made at the August Workshop. That is the first time I had seen her, let alone met her. When she got up and stated her address (which she didn’t have to do) I realized that we were neighbors and that I even walk past her house on occasion. In addition to speaking as the Principal she also spoke as an Alton resident and grandparent. She has my thanks. She was impressive.

Mr. William Lander, the Superintendent, made a VERY GOOD forceful statement on behalf of the administration and staff as to their belief and commitment in CC.

But that was all in vain.

Politics prevailed. They were not voting on CC. They were voting on ideological political beliefs and their profound fear of anything that is other than their cherished ‘local control’.

But, here is the irony and I knew that this would be the case ever since I asked for the vote.

The vote meant nothing.

It changed nothing, it changes nothing!

Yes, to be fair some of the members did point this out before the vote — viz. that they were not sure what they were voting for or against.

But, they voted against their support of ‘CC’.

However, ACS is already committed and on track with a CC-based curriculum, books and testing for the 2013 – 2014 school year. That die is cast. Rotate has been reached and exceeded.

To change course they will have to take some other votes.

Mrs. Locke (first) and I (second) BOTH stood up in the second public input and asked for clarification as to what the voted meant, its ramification.

Mr. Lander, to his credit again, pointed out that the vote didn’t change anything. He was on the ball today. I was impressed.

I chased after Mr. Kirby, who left (no doubt in disgust) after the vote and asked him if he understood what the vote meant. He didn’t.

What a Board.

Of, there was healthy applause from the public gallery, but not the teachers, when the vote failed. Sad.

But, I want to applaud and thank four individuals that truly impressed me today:
Richard Kirby, Carol Locke, Sandy Wyatt & William Lander.

Alton Central School (ACS) School Board Meeting, August 12, 2013 — DISSOLVED Due To Lack Of Quorum! W.T.F.!

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013.

Anura Guruge

Related posts:
>> NOT a single teacher from ACS … — Aug. 10, 2013.
>> ACS Board Aug. 8 Workshop … — Aug. 9, 2013.

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This was beyond the pale.

This was unacceptable.

This was unprofessional.

This was rude.

None of the three even bothered to call, e-mail (or even text) the Superintendent or the Chair to say that they would not be making it (or at least that is what they implied). We (Deanna, I and Steve Parker from the Public) all sat and waited … till 6.15.
<< See BELOW >>

If it was an emergency one would hope that these folks have a family member that could have called.

I felt genuinely sorry for the Chair Sandy Wyatt. She tries. She deserves better respect than THIS from her own Board Members. She looked slightly bemused seated there …

This was very uncharacteristic for Steve Miller. That was commented upon by the few that were there.

Yes, I better than most understand that things come up and that everybody has a personal life in addition to their civic and professional duties.

The Principal Sydney Leggett wasn’t there either, but her absence was expected as I was led to believe.

But, not to let anyone know ahead of time was rude ….  And we are talking about 3 people here. Yes, if one didn’t bother to notify, I could handle that.

Third School Board meeting, counting last Thursday’s workshop, that Krista Argiropolis has missed. I think, and I could be wrong, that she missed another earlier in the year.

Contrary to what many may believe this is not a strictly volunteer position. The board members do get a stipend — though I think Steve Miller gives it back (or does something similar). The stipend is $1,000 a year I think. Yes, they do much more than attend the meetings, but …

I get a feeling that there is some gameplay involved here.

But this was a bad and dangerous game to play.

Yes, as ever, there was hardly any public. Apathy reigns. Parents only appear to care about renovating the building. Sad. A building does not a school make. But, obviously that is the thinking in town.

Well, a bid had to be granted today. It could not because there was no meeting.

I am, as is my wont of late, going to stand up, if nothing else but for the record, and demand that the Board adopt a set of rules as to their conduct.

I found out today that School Board members are NOT obligated to attend any of the meetings. Once elected they could miss every meeting.

That has to change.

This was bad.

I have since found out that TWO (2) Board Members (and yes, I know who they are but won’t mention their names to avoid embarrassing the third) quite correctly, per SAU policy, e-mailed the Superintendent, William ‘Bill’ Lander earlier that day. Mr. Lander got the e-mails and was aware that they would NOT be attending.

The third member rather than e-mailing Lander e-mailed the Chair instead. Not sure whether she got that e-mail prior to the meeting.

LANDER never disclosed to us, the public, that he had heard from two of the members.

There was NO REASON for him not to do so — other than maybe just plain bad manners.

This is why at the next School Board meeting I demanded that they add a permanent Agenda Item, right after the pledge, that says: ‘Regrets From Board Members’.

That should preclude Lander playing all coy and as usual by his own rules.

This was mainly Lander’s fault for not telling us.

How Come NOT A Single Teacher From Alton Central School (ACS) Or Prospect Attended School Board ‘Common Core’ Workshop?

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013.

Anura Guruge

Related posts:
>> ACS Board Aug. 8 Workshop … — Aug. 9, 2013.
>> ACS Workshop … should be hilarious — July 31, 2013.
>> ACS board not 100% behind Common Core? — June 11, 2013.

++++ Do a SEARCH on ‘Common Core’ or ‘Alton Central’ from
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So how come not a SINGLE TEACHER from Alton Central School (ACS) or Alton’s Prospect Mountain High School attended the much vaunted School Board workshop to discuss Common Core?

It is not like teachers don’t attend School Board meetings. They were there in droves earlier in the year when the $18M Bond was being discussed — all seated regimentally together. They attend when awards are being given out.

But, come this crucial, ‘KEY TO THE KIDS’ meeting on Common Core they are conspicuous by their absence.

It could not have been a coincidence or accident.

They were either telling us something or had been told by the Administration to stay away.

Their absence can be interpreted in multiple ways.

As I already said I was disappointed and amazed that the Administration did NOT stand up and defend their decision to pursue Common Core — at least in 2013 – 2014.

We had ancient folks from out-of-town standing up and talking about their teaching experiences from the 1970s — as if that had any bearing on CC.

There were all these non-educators that stood up and claimed that various teachers and unions were against CC.

Wouldn’t it have been wonderful to have some of OUR teachers there to give us THEIR impressions.

Because in the end, it is what they think that really matters?

I could be wrong but I have a sneaking feeling that the Administration told them to stay clear to avoid any flack!

That the Administration, to their dismay or otherwise, knows that they do not have a majority support by the Board is probably influencing their decisions.

Don’t we have an anointed, much-hailed ‘Champion of the Children’? How come he wasn’t there? Whether you support CC or not, somebody OTHER THAN the estimable School Board member, Steve Miller, the GUARDING of Alton’s school kids, needs to be there to represent the kids.

The Administration clearly demonstrated that they are not going to stand up.

I am doing my part. Don’t forget that it was I that got the ball rolling on CC — since I knew that we had an issue even more divisive than the $18M Bond. So I am doing my part — though I really am not passionate one way or another about CC. I am a great believer that you can take a child to a playground but you can’t get her to go on the monkey-bars.

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