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Manchester Proud Announces New Leadership

Co-Directors announced as Barry Brensinger retires as Coordinator but remains on the Champion’s Council

Manchester Proud (MP) is excited to announce the new leadership team of Debby Miller and Aimee Kereage as Co-Directors. Debby and Aimee will report to the Champion’s Council (Manchester Proud’s Board) continuing the momentum that Manchester Proud has built up over the past 6 years under Barry Brensinger’s leadership. Barry has made the decision to step down from his leadership role to enjoy retirement, he will remain a member of the Council and involved in MP’s work. 

Debby Miller brings over 30 years in executive leadership and community development in banking and non-profits. Debby will be working as the day-to-day keeper of the MP mission, conceptualizing new opportunities, developing strategies needed to optimize the work, providing leadership and advocacy for MP, and acting as liaison to the Champion’s Council.

Aimee Kereage has been with Manchester Proud for 2.5 years now, serving as the Community Partnerships Director. Aimee will now serve as Co-Director and will be leading community engagement and partnership efforts within the organization. Aimee has been actively involved with youth-serving organizations, the Manchester School District, and local businesses for nearly a decade. She is using this experience to create critical partnerships supporting the needs of students and families.

Manchester Proud Champion’s Council Chair, Katie LaBranche details the evolution and continuation of our work, “Our council is excited to see where Aimee Kereage and Debby Miller take Manchester Proud as we evolve. We certainly could not have gotten to this place without Barry’s dedication to our community. I first met Barry 7 years ago when he was canvassing our neighborhood. The questions about our schools and community intrigued me as we had just relocated from Raleigh, NC. I applied for MP’s Community Planning Group shortly after and the rest is history. I have worked with him to guide our council to learn from the community’s feedback, to present the Strategic Plan, create CelebrateED, and plan the state of MSD.  These are no small feats and were made possible by our partnership with the Manchester School District and the many volunteers committed to our public schools. Barry is a mentor and friend; he will be missed in the day-to-day workings of Manchester Proud. Debby and Aimee are a dynamic team and will continue to grow our connections to our community and the Manchester School District. ”

Debby Miller shares her excitement about joining the Manchester Proud team, “I am thrilled to join the leadership team at Manchester Proud. It’s an honor to continue the incredible work Barry Brensinger has championed over the past six years. I look forward to working closely with Aimee Kereage and the Champion’s Council to advance our mission, develop innovative strategies, and create new opportunities to benefit our community. Together, we will ensure that Manchester Proud remains a powerful advocate for positive change and community development.”

Aimee Kereage expresses enthusiasm in stepping into this new role, “I am honored to step into the role of Co-Director at Manchester Proud. Over the past 2.5 years, I have witnessed firsthand the positive impact we can make through strong community partnerships and engagement. I am excited to work alongside Debby Miller and the Champion’s Council to build on our momentum and continue creating meaningful connections that support our students and families. Together, we will strive to make Manchester an even better place for everyone.”

Proud Moment – Manchester Proud welcomes three summer interns

We are thrilled to announce the arrival of our summer interns, Lacey, Jasmerlin, and Santiago! 🥳 These bright and talented juniors from the Manchester School District are joining our team, and we couldn’t be more excited to have them on board.

Our interns will be working closely with our Community Communications Director, Lauren Boisvert. Lauren’s expertise and leadership will guide them as they navigate various communications projects, ensuring they gain valuable hands-on experience and insights into the field.

Join us in giving a warm welcome to Lacey, Jasmerlin, and Santiago! We are confident that their contributions will make a significant impact, and we can’t wait to see all that they will achieve during their time with us.

Welcome to the team, Lacey, Jasmerlin, and Santiago! 🎉

Meet Our Interns

Lacey

“Hello! My name is Lacey and I am a Junior at Manchester School of Technology. I like to draw, watch anime, listen to music, and play video games! I’m very excited to be a part of Manchester Proud!”

Jasmerlin

Jasmerlin brings a fresh perspective and a keen eye for detail. Her enthusiasm for community engagement and her ability to connect with people will be invaluable assets to our team. We look forward to the energy and ideas she will bring to our projects.

Santiago

“Hello! My name is Santiago Hernandez. I’m a junior currently studying at Manchester School of Technology enrolled in a Video & Digital Media Production program. I was born in Venezuela and immigrated to the U.S. Some of my favorite hobbies are playing instruments, such as the piano, and producing music digitally. I’m very excited to work as an intern with Manchester Proud!”

Op-Ed: City schools are filled with uplifting stories – let’s share them

The story published in the Union Leader on May 31st, 2024. Link to publication here.

I’VE BEEN to every public school in Manchester, and the stories of success from students are spilling out of every one of them.

As members of the community, we all have a stake in the success of students. It’s easy to criticize our schools, but research shows positive engagement is better for student participation and performance. I hope that you take a moment to find one good thing to share about Manchester’s public schools.

Positive stories serve as powerful reminders of the potential for growth and success, encouraging students to set ambitious goals, work hard, and persevere in the face of challenges. When we shine a spotlight on the good things happening within a school district, we not only celebrate the achievements of students, teachers, and administrators, but also inspire and motivate others to strive for excellence.

I want to tell you three stories that have changed the way I think about Manchester schools.

Growing up in Manchester, I only reluctantly talked about school because of negative — and incorrect — assumptions. During my senior year, a man came into the school with what was thought to be a handgun. We went into lockdown. It was frightening at first, but officials later determined it was a former student who worked construction and had some tools looking for a recommendation from a former teacher. This story was all over the news and social media with negative comments and generalizations about the community. The truth that was never widely shared about the community is positivity and just a few weeks after that event, the school came together to produce an event where more than 20 students and staff (including myself) donated over six inches of their hair.

Shortly after that event, the senior class put on a community resource carnival featuring community partners, carnival games, and food to engage the community with the school and resources available to families. Such events are what represent the school community, but they rarely get the same attention that stories like the lockdown receive.

When working at a grant-funded summer camp at Gossler Park Elementary School in the summer of 2016, we had a culture day where students shared about their culture. I was greeted by a young student who excitedly talked about her Nepalese culture and gave the entire camp Henna tattoos. The joy of sharing her experience is something that caused this quiet student to light up with passion. Research shows positive encouragement and engagement can lead to improved academics, a study done in NYC showed a more than 20% increase in performing on grade level as a result.

As community communication director for Manchester Proud, I have seen success story after success story. Every year, Manchester Proud awards four scholarships to a student at each city high school. When chatting with students before their award ceremony, most students participated in volunteering with more than 10 organizations in high school.

Manchester Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Chmiel Gillis told me about kids going to Ivy League colleges and into military service, other students who crush sports records, school staff awarded federal grants, and so much more.

Let’s focus on the good and keep the momentum going. Manchester schools face many challenges, but celebrating our students can make a real difference in their success.

In a growing urban community that speaks more than 76 languages, there are too often negative associations and stereotypes assigned to certain schools. Dr. Gillis told me cheering on students blazes a path for their success. When there is negative chatter to combat, it’s a hurdle.  

The stories we choose to tell about education shape not only our perceptions of schools and learning, but also the aspirations and opportunities available to future generations. By consciously choosing to amplify the positive and uplifting aspects of education, we can inspire students to reach their full potential, strengthen community support for schools, and contribute to the creation of exceptional public schools for all.

By simply sharing a positive story on social media, you can make a difference.  Your words of encouragement may be just what a student or family needs to continue their journey to success.

__

Lauren Boisvert is community communications director for Manchester Proud and a proud alumnus of Manchester High School West. She lives in the city.

Amy’s Test Event for Something Super Fun

You won't want to miss Amy's Test Event for Something Super Fun…it will be the best of times, definitely not the worst of times.

You'll go places, you'll see things, everyone and anyone will be there.

Come one, come all…

THIS IS ONLY A TEST

Test Event

test event

Test Event

Testing email notification of the event form. This is only a test to ensure Aimee and Lauren will receive an email notification when a event form is submitted 🙂

YMCA Rock the Block

At the YMCA of Downtown Manchester, we strive every day to strengthen youth, adults, and families to make a better community. We couldn’t do it without you, so we’re having a party and EVERYONE IS INVITED!

Join us right in the middle of Mechanic Street for this FREE, family-friendly event.

ACTIVITIES INCLUDE:
• Food & Drinks
• Games & Crafts
• Bounce House
• Music
• Free Swim (be sure to bring a bathing suit & towel!)
• And So Much More!

Proud Moment – Gossler Park Elementary School’s Lemonade Stand for a Cause

In a heartfelt display of community spirit, Gossler Park Elementary School has come together to support one of their own, Kindergarten teacher Jen Paquin, who is bravely battling cancer. The initiative was spearheaded by Ms. Coole, a Special Education Educator at the school, who hosted a lemonade stand with her class to raise funds for Mrs. Paquin.

Mrs. Paquin has been a cornerstone of Gossler Park Elementary for over a decade, starting her teaching career at the school and dedicating her life to nurturing young minds. Her impact on students and their families is evident, as many have rallied to show their support during this challenging time.

Ms. Coole’s class, a self-contained class with varying disabilities, participates in the lemonade stand project annually as a way to learn essential life skills. This year, they chose to dedicate their efforts to Mrs. Paquin, demonstrating the depth of the school’s communal bond. Students in their pink Gossler shirts, eagerly lined up for pink lemonade, excited to contribute to the cause.

The lemonade stand is just one of many fundraising efforts initiated by the school community. Principal Lori Upham shared her admiration for Mrs. Paquin, stating, “She is an amazing human being and educator. It’s not fair to her to be facing this, but our school community has come up with ideas to support her and her family.” Principal Upham highlighted the overwhelming response not only from current students and families but also from past students and their families. She recounted a touching story of a family whose child was in Mrs. Paquin’s class nine years ago, donating $500 as a testament to the lasting impact she had on their child.

In addition to the lemonade stand, the school has embraced “Wednesday Pink Out for Paquin” every Wednesday throughout the year. This initiative brings the community together in a visual show of support, with everyone wearing pink to honor Mrs. Paquin and boost her spirits.

The fundraising efforts continue, and the school community is determined to provide as much support as possible. Those interested in contributing can purchase a raffle calendar (see below) for $10 each before June 12th, 2024 by emailing Principal Lori Upham at lupham@mansd.org.

The Gossler Park Elementary School community’s unwavering support for Mrs. Paquin is a testament to the strength and unity of the school family. As they rally around a beloved teacher in her time of need, they exemplify the power of community and compassion

Media Power Youth Summer Filmmaking Camps

Media Power Youth is hosting two media camps this summer where youth can experience the art of filmmaking while exploring nature, science, and making new friends. These camps provide a unique, creative challenge for youth ages 10 to 14.

Conservation Quest Camp with the NH Audubon Massabesic Center
Session 1: July 8 to July 12
Session 2: July 15 to July 19

Flip the Script Camp with the SEE Science Center
July 29 to August 2

Media Power Youth’s filmmaking experiences give young people the opportunity to define a creative idea and bring it to life with a film crew. Each camper will try their hand at a variety of video production techniques, including directing, scriptwriting, filming, and editing. Campers will also engage in animal encounters, hikes, prop-making, and many other interactive activities.

Learn more and how to register by visiting our website: mediapoweryouth.org/camp.