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September 17, 2014



Pittsfield School Board In Running For $100,000 Award

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Nellie Mae Education Foundation’s Lawrence O’Toole Award winner will be determined by online voting open to the public


New Hampshire’s Pittsfield School Board has been nominated for the Nellie Mae Education Foundation’s Lawrence O’Toole Award, which comes with a $100,000 prize and is awarded annually to a leader or group of leaders who have been innovative in advancing student-centered approaches to learning. Student-centered learning prepares students to master both the academic knowledge and the critical thinking, problem solving and communication skills they need to thrive. This year, for the first time, the public can vote for the winner online and the candidate with the most votes at the end for the voting period (September 9-30, 2014) will win the prize.


Superintendent of Pittsfield school district, John Freeman, and the leadership team in Pittsfield, have demonstrated tremendous initiative around the systems-change process in the district. The team has fostered a community-based process that serves as a role model for other districts to emulate as they implement a student-centered system. Under the guidance of the Pittsfield School Board, the school’s educational system has been successfully remodeled to engage students and prepare them for a rapidly changing society.


New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan highlighted Pittsfield in her State of the State address in January, crediting the school with bringing businesses, parents, and the entire community together to reshape education. Since shifting to a student-centered system, the number of 11th graders testing proficient in math has nearly doubled.


“We are truly honored to be part of this transformation,” the Pittsfield School Board said. “The support we are receiving from the students, teachers, administration and community is truly amazing. Winning this award would help us tremendously towards implementing more student-centered opportunities, as well as give us the resources to share what we have learned with other school districts, without further financial burden to our taxpayers.”


The Larry W. O’Toole Leadership award was established in 2011 to honor O’Toole and his success in laying the groundwork and establishing the Foundation in 1998. O’Toole was the former President and CEO of Nellie Mae Corp. In 1999, an acquisition by Sallie Mae enabled the creation of what is now the Nellie Mae Education Foundation.


“This award is a reminder of Larry’s legacy and his efforts to use the Foundation’s resources in the best ways possible to achieve its mission,” said Nicholas Donohue, President of the Foundation. “At the same time, it is meant to recognize and further the great work by local champions of student-centered learning.”


This year, six candidates have been nominated for the award (one from each of the New England states). The winner of the contest will receive a $100,000 grant towards their school or organization, which will be presented at a ceremony this winter. Voting will be open to the public on the Foundation’s website from September 9-30, 2014. 


As the only NH school district to be recognized, we are asking that you support the Pittsfield School Board in hopes of receiving this honor. Please go to http://www.nmefoundation.org/grants/larry-o-toole-award.aspx to cast your vote for the Pittsfield, NH School Board. Thank you, your support is greatly appreciated!


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