Sparrow and Tashjian Receive National Excellence Awards for Work at Northern Essex

Two Haverhill residents are among five Northern Essex Community College faculty recently named as recipients of the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development Awards for Excellence. Kristen Sparrow and Sue Tashjian, both of Haverhill, join Tom Greene of Salem, Scott Joubert of Oxford and Sharon McDermot of Amesbury in receiving the national honor, recognizing outstanding faculty and staff working at the country’s community colleges. Sparrow, assistant professor, computer information sciences, has been teaching part-time at Northern Essex for 18 years and joined the full-time faculty three years ago. She is credited with developing courses that are accessible to all learners. Two years ago, she received a COD Award from Massachusetts Colleges Online for her hybrid course, Introduction to Computer Science.

Teachers’ Union Says it was ‘Blindsided’ by April 1 Haverhill School Return, Calls Date Arbitrary

The union representing teachers and other educators said it was “blindsided” by last Thursday’s proposal that the Haverhill school department come up with a plan to return to in-person learning April 1. (See previous WHAV story.)

Haverhill Education Association President Anthony J. Parolisi told WHAV school staff was especially surprised by Mayor James J. Fiorentini’s idea since the topic wasn’t mentioned just hours earlier during a meeting of the Joint Stakeholder Coronavirus Task Force. That group, which includes union members, parents, administrators and medical professionals, meets weekly to consider virus-related responses. “It wasn’t on the agenda for discussion so I don’t know how many School Committee members knew that he planned to bring that up, but at any rate we were blindsided by it. To make matters worse, it came at a time during the meeting when most of the public—you guys (WHAV) were still covering it faithfully—but HC Media had issues with their feed so, if you were watching it on television, or on the internet, you didn’t even see the discussion on the motion,” he said.

Whittier Tech Offers Special Welding and Advanced Manufacturing Night Programs with State Grant

Night Welding and Advanced Manufacturing career training programs begin next week at Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School thanks to a $90,000 state grant. Whittier Tech Superintendent Maureen Lynch said Friday the school received the grant as part of the Career Technical Initiative through the state to offer the night educational training programs for unemployed and underemployed adults. “We are thrilled to be able to offer Massachusetts residents this opportunity to develop and build their skills in order to find jobs in these high demand areas,” Lynch said. The programs, in partnership with the MassHire Merrimack Valley Career Center, include a 200-hour Welding Career Training Program and a 200-hour Advanced Manufacturing Career Training Program. Both programs begin the week of Feb.

Haverhill Agrees to Consider Plan to Return All Students to School in April; One Member Dissents

All Haverhill public school students could be back in school classrooms by April if some School Committee members have their way. The Committee gave its okay to a proposal by Mayor James. J. Fiorentini to have the superintendent draw up a plan to have all students back in the classroom by April 1. “I believe that it is time to get our children back into the classroom. Now, I ask that a plan be drawn up.

Northern Essex Community College Offers Help Completing Federal Student Aid Forms

Northern Essex Community College is working with families through area high schools to help complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form. The college is working with students of Haverhill, Whittier Regional Vocational Technical, Methuen, Greater Lawrence Technical and other high schools to address the decline in student financial aid applications this year. The school said COVID-19 appears to have led to an 18% decrease in applications, particularly from high schools that serve minority and low-income students. “What’s most concerning about this is that it’s affecting students disproportionately,” said Northern Essex Community College President Lane A. Glenn “My fear is that we are going to lose the students who have the most to benefit from continuing their education.”

The college’s financial aid specialists are offering free information sessions and/or workshops at high schools for families who need help with filling out a FAFSA form. At Haverhill High School, Northern Essex notes, financial aid form completion rates are remaining steady in general, but sub-groups, such as students with disabilities and student of color, were completing at much lower rates.

Haverhill’s Education Support Professionals and School Committee Resume Talks Today

Haverhill’s education support professionals and the Haverhill School Committee are scheduled to try again today to resolve differences over proposed pay increases. The ESPs, represented by the Haverhill Education Association, are calling for more progress toward earning, what they call, a “living wage.” Maureen Zuber, the ESP’s bargaining team chair, said the approximately 180 employees are asking for a 2% wage increase retroactive to the start of this school year and next, plus a $4,000 raise next year. “Our proposal will accelerate our progress toward a living wage by bringing the starting salary for ESPs to $25,000 starting next school year,” Zuber said in a statement. “Haverhill’s ESPs have been undervalued and underpaid for long enough. It’s time for a market correction not just in Haverhill but across the country to make sure these educators and all school staff are compensated fairly for the essential services they provide.”

Elaborating, Haverhill Education Association President Anthony J. Parolisi told WHAV, such professionals have historically been paid “poverty wages” statewide, but there has been recent progress in places such as Somerville.

Podcast: Pandemic Challenges Again Stress Haverhill Graduation Plans, Impact Enrollments

With the global pandemic entering a second year, it’s not just students having to cope with new school realities. Administrators are likewise finding themselves facing challenges such as the prospect of another unusual graduation day. Haverhill School Superintendent Margaret Marotta, a guest recently on WHAV’s morning program, says with Haverhill High School’s graduation coming up in less than four months, thought is already going into the graduation ceremony for the class of 2021. “We’ve been creating a series of different plans of what it’s going to look like. I think we know it’s not going to be our typical graduation.

With Storm-Related Remote Learning, Haverhill Opens Free Breakfast and Lunch Sites Earlier

For a timely list of cancellations and postponements, listen to “Win for Breakfast,” live each morning from 6-9 over 97.9 WHAV. With Haverhill Public Schools and Whittier Tech having a remote learning days, free breakfast and lunch is available one hour earlier toda. “Grab ‘n’ Go” meal site are open from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Dr. Albert B. Consentino, Caleb Dustin Hunking, John Greenleaf Whittier, Paul Nettle and John C. Tilton lower schools. The Haverhill High School site operates from 3-4 p.m.

Any child from birth to 18 years old may receive free breakfast and lunch from any of the sites.  Those who require additional meals for additional days are advised to ask a site representative.