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Administration

 

Tucked into the Merrimack River valley, a few miles north of the state capitol of Concord, the Shaker Regional School District serves the mostly-rural communities of the towns of Belmont and Canterbury, New Hampshire.  Where the landscape is awe inspiring in all seasons, a brief look into the district’s only middle school will show the diversity of characters and cultures that build within its students the beauty that matches the surroundings.

Our students represent a broad range of backgrounds and reference frames.  Some hail from hardscrabble, pull-up-your-bootstraps families, others from families enjoying property on a farm or near a lake; some from families that have been here for generations uncounted, and others new to the community, or even just visiting for a time.


The caring and concern for neighbors sets apart the students and faculty of Belmont Middle School, evident in numerous yearly fund raisers for local families in need, or for regional hospitals.  When one of their own recently approached the end of her brief and difficult life (still beaming the smile with which she braved every difficulty), the school, the town, its students, and its faculty gathered to sing for her in her backyard.  Well over a hundred, in the cold of a late-December dusk, sang, hand in hand, with love in their hearts, to celebrate one of their own, and to ease her passing.


Belmont Middle School began in 1998 with the splitting off of the high school into their new facility.  We quickly added fifth and sixth grades to our seventh and eighth, transitioning to the middle school model and philosophy.  We have a history of attracting and keeping excellent leaders, faculty, and staff.   Consistent community support of school budgets has allowed growth and technological advances that have enriched the educational program.


Faculty and administration are constantly bettering our students’ experience through our adoption of special programs.  After much discussion and research, the staff adapted and implemented an Intervention model which has proven to be a turning point for us.  It has been very successful in targeting student learning, and we have seen great benefits in state and local testing scores.  Reflection, review, and rewriting of our district mission and vision, have resulted in community strategic planning events, bringing several generations of our community family together with the common goal of linking the students to the community as a whole.  


In recent years, we have created Academic and Behavioral support centers; we enjoy the presence of a school resource officer.  Our school counselors excel in student-centered care.  We have explored and expanded online learning opportunities, and we are leading the way regionally in exploring self-guided and competency based learning.  More than a decade ago, we built our Advisory program with the focus of building character, relationships and connections among kids, awareness of self and the individual’s role within the school, community, and world.


At the same time, we continue staff, student, and administration efforts to provide a wide spectrum of community outreach, student body enrichment, and student / community efforts.  Examples of these include our STEM and Career fairs, which bring community members who are experts in their fields into the school to converse with and inspire our student body.  Our yearly Gobble Wobble is a Thanksgiving-centered activity involving play between students and staff, building a school culture of belonging, but which is based on the overarching premise of caring for our community by collecting tons of food for our local food pantries.   


BMS traditions include our winter activities day at a local ski resort, our winter carnival, and our student-led assemblies which highlight student successes in all fields.  Concerts involving all district schools, drama productions that include students of all grade levels and abilities, and a strong and varied athletic program are all key parts of student life here.  

Belmont Middle School’s philosophy, tenacity, and loyalty are well displayed by the adoption of our school mascot: the bulldog is revered for all of these traits.  Our adolescent bulldogs move on into high school as strong young men and women, engaged in lifelong learning in an ever changing world.


Respectfully submitted,

Aaron Pope, Principal