Strafford Learning Center News

Artist Residency



Music learning supports all learning.  It also strongly correlates with increased student engagement. For  students at the John Powers School, Charles Ott Academy, Rochester Learning Academy and HOPE School, engagement was at a maximum during a recent six-day SLC artist residency with multi-instrumental musician, performer and teaching artist Randy Armstrong.

Replete with a worldly variety of percussion, wind, and stringed instruments, Randy Armstrong captivated both students and staff members alike with a dynamic and immersive instructional experience.  Guided by the National Core Arts Standards, Randy infused his experiential instruction by connecting students to the cultural and historical significance of his instruments, and afforded students an opportunity to both create and perform music.  

The essential ingredient leading to universal student engagement rested upon the lure of a beating drum.  Highly acclaimed for his West African Drumming arrangements, Randy began and finished each session with a high-energy drum circle from which no student (or staff member) could resist from joining. The rhythmic sound of a dozen African drums thundering across the room captivated and inspired students to focus upon how equally important they were to the combined sound of the whole group.  And, as is customary with many great musical performances, the sessions came to an end with the participants “wanting more!”

Artist in Residence

Students at Strafford Learning Center were delighted to welcome Artist in Residence, Randy Armstrong, to our programs. You could hear the delight by the wonderful sounds of African drumming coming from our meeting areas. For six days in June, Randy instructed students on a rotation basis at Hope, John Powers School, Charles Ott Academy and Rochester Learning Academy.

Randy brought with him an amazing variety of African drums, guitars, a beautiful sitar and other instruments. He performed several amazing compositions for the students and then invited them into a circle in which each student was given a drum. Through a variety of engaging strategies, Randy had the entire group drumming within minutes. Even our most reluctant students were intrigued and engaged in the music. His explanation of the cultures involved in the instruments was intriguing.

Artist FullOur staffs were positive as well about this wonderful opportunity. Here are some of their comments:

"The concept that keeps returning to my mind is the technique of using music to 'bring students into the room' . Engaging them with sounds, then tapering it off so they are fully present was fascinating and I know will be useful to us if we can find the way to incorporate it into our daily practice."

"The students had a lot of fun with the drumming and were able to relax and just be themselves while in a school environment. "

"...Every single middle school student was fully participating with very little support from the JPS staff. "

"...Kids so motivated to participate that their time in class prior to the sessions were increased; kids happy and confident during and after the sessions."

Students reported "Awesome", "Amazing" and "Unique".

We would like to thank Randy Armstrong for sharing his amazing talent with us. We would also like to thank the Arts Alliance of Northern New Hampshire in partnership with VSA, NH for funding this exciting program for our students. We look forward to another Artist in Residence experience this coming school year.

NH Transition Community of Practice Summit VII

Navigating the Transition Roadmap: Which Exit Do I Take?
November 19, 2013, Grappone Center, Concord, NH

The mission of the NH Transition Community of Practice (CoP) is to make a difference in the lives of New Hampshire youth and support successful transitions to life after high school by fostering cooperation, collaboration and the development of best practices among cross stakeholder communities. To that end the NH Transition CoP hosts an annual Summit each year to bring needed voices to the table and to share information and resources.

This year two of Strafford Learning Center's staff members were involved in the planning of the conference and in presenting at the conference. Heidi Wyman, Transition Specialist, has been an active member of the CoP since its inception. She was very involved in organizing and participating in this year's event. Michelle Langa, our new Director of Education, presented on Bringing the NH College and Career Ready Standards, Including the Common Core, to transition Planning and Extended Learning Opportunities. Her presentation can be viewed by clicking the link below:

Transition Summit Presentation

Strafford Learning Center is pleased to support such an important effort in our state. For custom presentations on a variety of topics relating to special education, instruction, transition and extended learning opportunities, please contact Michelle Langa at 692-4411, ext. 24

Earn and Learn 2013


Strafford Learning Center, in partnership with Vocational Reahabilitation, recently completed a successful third year of the Earn and Learn Program.

Earn and Learn is a four-week long summer program, which places students in a classroom for half of their day, earning an English credit through professional writing and resume building.  The students spend the second half of their day interning at local businesses to gain real world, on the job experience.  To top it off, they are paid minimum wage for the entire day.

There have been a total of 23 students to participate in the Earn and Learn Program in the past three years, and six of them have been offered long term employment at the culmination of their internship experience.

The feedback from our business partners, parents and students has been overwhemingly positive, and we have had former students return on multiple occasions to thank us for giving them the opportunity to get a jump start on their careers.

Each of the seven students who participated in the 2013 Earn and Learn Program earned a full credit for their participation, a complete, strong resume, and a work experience which will be vaulable beyond the classroom for years to come.

Celebrating 40 Years



At the September 2011 Opening Day meeting of Strafford Learning Center’s staff, Executive Director Kevin Murphy reminded everyone that the Center would soon be celebrating its 40th anniversary. The agency had grown and flourished in the previous 39 years, and had every prospect of more of the same. “I wonder what our founders would think if they could see us today?” he asked the crowd, noting how proud he assumed they would be that the organization had come so far.


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