Warren Village School and University of New Hampshire build community in the White Mountains of NH

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Standing left to right: Warren Village School Teachers and Principal;  Charlene Mathews, Lauren Conner, Principal Michael Galli, Alayna Signorello and Amber Kingsbury. Seated left to right: TRRE Residents Justin Avery and Cam Harrison

Warren Village School, a district of SAU 23, is a pre-K to grade 8 school with 11 teachers, serving 62 students from Warren and Glencliff, N.H. The school’s partnership with UNH Teacher Residency for Rural Education (TRRE) demonstrates a synergy of shared goals focused on community, the theory and practice of teaching, and supporting students’ social emotional growth.

Since signing a partnership agreement with TRRE in September 2018, Warren Village School’s involvement with TRRE has grown to include two TRRE graduates hired as full-time teachers and two current TRRE residents. Alayna Signorello G‘19 was hired in 2019 to teach grade 5 and will teach grade 3 this year. Lauren Conner G‘20 now teaches multi-age middle school science. The TRRE graduates are joined by residents Justin Avery and Cam Harrison who work with experienced teaching mentors in grades 2 and 1, respectively. 

What made these TRRE graduates and residents commit to teaching in a rural TRRE partner school? TRRE is focused on place-based teacher preparation in the context of rural partner schools. Signorello’s ideal school experience, “the feeling that the school is the center of the community and the center of town,” was personally very important to her in the hiring process. Conner has a passion for science and supporting children in STEM learning. Harrison and Avery are both avid hikers and outdoor people. Harrison says, “The outdoors is an incredibly important part of my life and it’s one of the driving factors behind my decision to move to New Hampshire and join the TRRE program.” Avery joined the program, in part, “to learn from UNH faculty and his teaching mentor the educational concepts and practices that enhance new teachers’ ability to positively impact the communities they serve.” 

TRRE residents are supported at Warren Village School by teaching mentors Amber Kingsbury and Charlene Mathews. Kingsbury also serves as an adjunct instructor for the elementary reading methods course the residents are taking this fall as part of their master’s degree requirements. TRRE graduates receive new teacher induction and mentoring from TRRE. They also serve as an informal peer support system for one another, as well as for the current residents.

“I am very pleased to partner with the TRRE program. Just as medical students are placed in residencies to learn and practice their craft, TRRE students are paired with accomplished educators and immersed in the art of teaching on day one. This, in my opinion, is what all teacher education programs should do,” says Principal Michael Galli.

According to Tom Schram, UNH associate professor of education and TRRE director of pedagogy and clinical experience, Warren’s partnership with the TRRE program seemed a natural fit.

“Warren Village School embodies the key elements of close community connection, both within and beyond the school, a caring and dedicated staff, and a forward-looking perspective on both academic curriculum and the school’s role in meeting the social and emotional needs of its children,” says Schram.

Warren Village School states on its web page that it is committed “to providing students with the academic foundation necessary to develop a love for life-long learning,” just as TRRE seeks to instill a love of life-long learning and a commitment to teaching. The partnership between Warren Village School and TRRE is a match with the potential for a lasting impact.

TRRE, Teacher Residency for Rural Education, is funded in part by the US Department of Education Teacher Quality Partnership Grant #U336S160019