School Administrative Unit 39

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Amherst Middle School Designated NELMS Spotlight School!

Letter from NELMS

February 27, 2017
Porter Dodge, Principal Amherst Middle School
14 Cross Road
POBox 966
Amherst, NH  03031

Dear Principal Dodge:

On behalf of the NELMS and its Board of Directors, I wish to thank you, members of the professional and support staffs, and students for the time and hospitality provided to our visitation team on January 23 as part of your Spotlight School application process.  Based upon evidence gathered during several meetings, classroom observations, and a tour of the facility during the recent visit I am pleased to inform you that Amherst Middle School will be designated a NELMS Spotlight School!

During the visit, the reviewers identified a range and variety of indicators that demonstrate. your school's commitment to effective instructional and assessment practices, collaboration, teaming, and a solid understanding of the young adolescent based on current research and best practice reflecting 21st century learning expectations.

The New England League of Middle Schools wishes to commend Amherst Middle School for the following:

  • the positive, safe, mutually respectful, inclusive and welcoming school culture
  • the firmly established RTI Program for all student in all grades 
  • the "Courage to Care" initiative to combat bullying
  • the leadership opportunities for students
  • the students' level of involvement in the decision-making process
  • the students' high regard for their teachers who value them as individuals
  • the interactive student directed learning throughout all classes visited
  • the richness and depth of the curriculum
  • the involvement in the NHDOE's PACE program
  • the collegiality of the professional and support staffs
  • the quality of teachers' instructional practices which focus on performance assessments and projects
  • the effective administrative building leadership
  • the comprehensive Five-Year District Strategic Plan with representatives from all school constituency groups involved in its development
  • the vibrant professional development programs/offerings
  • the new Maker Space program which includes a community component
  • the number of students involved in a full-range of free after-school activities
  • the leadership and level of support provided by the superintendent, director of curriculum, and director of student services
  • the level of budgetary support for the school's educational programs and services
  • the exceptional cleanliness/maintenance of the facility and grounds

To continue your improvement and commitment to best middle level practices, NELMS makes the following recommendations:

  • implement a formal Advisory or "Advisory-Like" program for all students and professional staff which meets on a regular basis
  • clearly articulate ways in which the school communicates with parents from the communities in the district
  • give due consideration to the number of initiatives during a given school year school year

Please note that renewal of your Spotlight School status in three years is contingent upon successful implementation of the above recommendations.

We are pleased to congratulate and honor Amherst Middle School as NELMS' newest Spotlight School. Soon you will be provided with a Spotlight School banner that we ask you to display in a public area of your building as well as to note that you are a NELMS Spotlight School on your website. If you wish to have a formal banner presentation, please contact my office.


Jerome Frew Executive Director


cc.  Kathleen Hill, Spotlight Schools Coordinator

Dona Boardman, NELMS NH Region 1 Representative

Peter Warburton, Superintendent, SAU 39

Amy Facey, Chair, Amherst School Committee