By: Barry Brensinger, Manchester Proud Coordinator 

Getting “school” right is the most impactful work we can do as a community.  Manchester’s public schools are the source of our doers, builders, creators, caregivers, teachers, technicians, leaders, and informed citizenry – making our schools the place to face our challenges and build our future.  Day-by-day, one step forward at a time, the people of Manchester are realizing the potential of this fundamental truth to change ALL of our lives – for the better.

Sometimes it’s hard to recognize progress, to see through the ”haze” of our daily lives.  Gratefully, enabled by you, our generous donors and dedicated volunteers, the ongoing initiatives of Manchester Proud allow us to both see and make change.   And change IS underway!

As celebrated by Manchester Proud’s recent “Report Card”, the progress made by the Manchester School District during this last year of pandemic affirmatively answers the question, CAN we change our schools for the better? Thanks to our District’s leadership and staff and your engagement, real and impactful change is being experienced on the ground, in our schools, by those most directly involved in the education of our kids.

Here are a just a few glimpses into what that change looks like from inside:

“As called for in the new strategic plan, enhanced professional development time has really helped educators come together during COVID, utilizing common planning to provide better learning experiences for our students. Having access to weekly professional development time has been so valuable to advance teaching practices, learn from colleagues, and implement new strategies and ideas in the classroom.”  

Liz Kirwan, MSD Teacher/Past Manchester Proud Chair

“Harnessing the power of community partnerships, especially during the pandemic, has brought renewed energy and focus to our work.  Our ability to leverage and provide clear and systematic access to the plentiful resources of this city, will be increasingly essential to continued connections and opportunities for our students, families, staff, and community as a whole.” 

Dr. Jennifer Gillis, MSD Assistant Superintendent

“The new strategic plan has been our North Star. Now, we are going in the same direction with the same goals, and all stakeholders are in sync.  Before, stakeholders focused on what they thought was most important and sometimes we unintentionally worked against each other.  The plan’s Portrait of a Graduate and three big goals: Grow our Learners, Grow our Educators, and Grow our System, allow us to work together in lock-step.” 

 Donna Crook, MSD Data Analyst

These testimonials, multiplied by hundreds more throughout the District, confirm that the question is no longer CAN we make change?  Change IS already underway.  Rather, the question is HOW MUCH change are we willing to make and sustain?   HOW GREAT do we want Manchester’s schools to be?

Manchester Proud’s vision is a City-wide network of schools and school partners that:

  • Ignite passions and deliver learning opportunities for ALL of our students – both basic knowledge and the new skills needed for solving problems not yet imagined;
  • Provide the supports so many of our kids need to overcome life’s challenges and make their own brighter futures;
  • And, are founded on trust, inclusivity, and equity – incubators of responsibility and respect.

Imagine such schools and the rewards and pride they will bring to everyone who calls Manchester home.  We’re on our way.  Let’s keep working toward this vision – together!

Both Our Community’s Plan for Manchester’s Future of Learning: Excellence and Equity for ALL Learners and Manchester Proud’s Report Card on the progress of the Plan’s implementation can be found at