Public Achievement in New Hampshire

At an innovative New Hampshire school, teachers, students and parents used Public Achievement's birthday to celebrate and reflect on their public work.

On May 24, 2007, the 17th birthday of Public Achievement, students, teachers and parents gathered at Monadnock Community Connections School in Surry, New Hampshire, to celebrate. With markers in hand, they wrote on posters labeled with Public Achievement’s core concepts – principles such as diversity, relationships, politics, and free spaces – and listed examples of these concepts in their work over the past year. It was a powerful way for them all to reflect and see how much they had learned.

At Monadnock, Public Achievement has grown from a once-a-week after-school program to an integrated part of the curriculum. It’s a good fit for the small high school’s focus on learning by doing and on involvement in the community. “Our kids were very clear. They wanted to take action? on public problems, said the school’s director, Kim Carter. “We try to help parents learn how to take action, too,? she added. “Many are used to having a passive or adversarial relationship with schools. We want them to see that what they say matters to school administrators, and that they can use their voice both in the school and outside.?

The students – along with their teacher coaches – had much to celebrate this year. One group wanted to know whether people can be successful regardless of socioeconomic class; after studying the issue, they created photo essays to for public display. A group interested in the environment performed an energy audit of another school, and presented the results to members of the Monandock Regional School Board Facilities Committee. A third group worked with the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at St. Anselm’s College and regional community members to plan and co-facilitate a Civic Forum, using the results of a statewide civic engagement survey as a basis for discussion.

Teachers, students and parents alike look forward to continuing their work, and to reflecting on their achievements again next May, when Public Achievement turns 18.

Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs