Coffee & Conversations

About the Series

Coffee & Conversations is a discussion series jointly organized by the Carsey School of Public Policy, the State of NH Bureau of Education and Training, and the NH Association of Certified Public Managers to engage public service professionals in learning, problem solving, and collaboration. We’ll provide the coffee, you provide the conversation!

View Archived Coffee & Conversations (Oct. 2019-Present)

Upcoming Coffee & Conversations!

  June 2022

The NH Charter School System

Wednesday, June 8, 8:15 – 9:30 a.m. | Online

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We'll be joined by a panel of NH Charter School leaders to discuss the charter school system in the state, its challenges, and benefits.  

Panel speakers include: Sarah Arnold: Head of School, Northeast Woodland Chartered Public School; Cassie Hayes, Dean of School, The Founders Academy; Lisa Lavoie, Superintendent/Principal North Country Charter Academy Lancaster & Littleton Sites; Beth McClure, Principal, Strong Foundations Charter School; and Jessica Pine, Head of School, Seacoast Charter School.  

Register Today!

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About Our June 2022 Speakers register to attend

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Sarah Arnold: Head of School, Northeast Woodland Chartered Public School

Sarah Arnold is a life-long educator. She has an undergraduate degree from Harvard in French Language and Civilization and a Master’s in Elementary Education from Lesley University. Sarah has taught in the elementary grades in Massachusetts and Nevada. She was drawn to Waldorf education through seeking a developmentally aware early childhood program for her own children. This yearning led to her participation in the founding of Evergreen Garden Playschool (EGP). Sarah completed her Waldorf Early Childhood teacher training at Sunbridge Institute, becoming a teacher and later the Director of EGP.

Through a desire to bridge the worlds of Waldorf education and public education, Sarah became active in the work of the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America, eventually joining the Board and becoming the Public Policy and Outreach Coordinator for WECAN. In this role, Sarah became a member of the Ideal Learning Round Table (sponsored by the Trust for Learning) in 2017. 

This same desire led to Sarah enrolling at Boston University in a Doctor of Education program in Language and Literacy in 2015. The onset of COVID in Spring of 2020 brought many changes to Sarah’s life. Sarah’s dissertation research was put on hold by the closing of schools, and the opportunity to join Northeast Woodland Chartered Public School as the initial Head of School arose.

Sarah worked with the founding board of Northeast Woodland to successfully open the school in the Fall of 2020. The school welcomed 130 students at the opening, meeting its initial goal and was able to stay in-person for the entire year. The school serves children in pre-k through 8th grade.


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Cassie Hayes, Dean of School, The Founders Academy

Cassie Hayes had 7 years experience as a math teacher in both the Manchester and Nashua school districts before moving to administration at The Founders Academy. She earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Rhode Island and a master's degree from SNHU.

Mrs. Hayes brings experience from both middle and high school math classrooms. She has worked with both students and teachers in multiple capacities throughout her career. Prior to taking on the Dean of School role, Mrs. Hayes was Director of Faculty at Founders. She organized professional development, observed teachers and helped departments build curriculum. Now, she oversees the day to day operations of the school and reports directly to the board of trustees.

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Lisa Lavoie, Superintendent/Principal North Country Charter Academy Lancaster & Littleton Sites

As the 2021-2022 school year comes to an end, Ms. Lavoie, will have completed her 18th year with North Country Charter Academy.  

It began in May 2004, when the Executive Board of the North Country Educational Services hired Lisa to establish two charter schools using the $3 million dollar charter school start-up grant award.  The two charter schools were strategically located so that each of the founding 10 school districts in northern New Hampshire could have access to it. The founding district provided financial support so that transportation could be coordinated to serve the student’s in each of the districts, thus covering a 4,000 geographical square mile area.

The main focus of the charter was to reduce the student dropout rate, increase dropout recovery and provide a quality education with high standards in a non-traditional setting.   Since its establishment, NCCA has graduated 587 students in which 114 students were recovered dropouts and northern NH has seen a 74% decrease in the number of students dropping out.  NCCA serves students in grades 7-12 and ages 14-21.  NCCA serves on average 85 students a year, in which several of them go on to post-secondary education, the military and/or employment.  The student success and the transformation seen in students are the reasons why Ms. Lavoie remains the leader of the charter academy.

Lisa’s core educational credentials include the following:
•    1988 Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology, Plymouth State University
•    2003 Master of Science in Business Education, Southern NH University
•    2007 K-12 School Principal Certification, Plymouth State University & NH DOE Alt IIIC
•    2019 Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies in Educational Leadership with Superintendent Certification, Plymouth State University

•    New Hampshire School Administrators Association
•    North Country Superintendent & Principals Association
•    North Country Career & Technical Education Advisory Committee
•    Littleton Rotary Member
•    North Country Bronzebacks Bass Club, Secretary, Bass Nation
•    Ammonoosuc Trout Unlimited Chapter 554 member

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Beth McClure, Principal, Strong Foundations Charter School

Beth McClure is the Principal and one of the founders of Strong Foundations Charter School in Pembroke, NH. Strong Foundations opened in 2007. The school focuses on using Orton-Gillingham to build early literacy and E.D. Hirsch's Core Knowledge Curriculum to build students' background knowledge. She earned a Masters of Education in Learning and Language Disabilities as well as a Masters of Education in Educational Administration.

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Jessica Pine, Head of School, Seacoast Charter School

Jessica Pine is the current Head of School at Seacoast Charter School. She has been in the field of education for over 20 years as a teacher, administrator, and consultant.  Jessica's Masters Degree is in International Training and Education from American University and she received her principal certification at Plymouth State University. Most of her career has been spent in New Hampshire, but she has also been a Director of schools in Nigeria and China.

About Our Partners

NH Bureau of Education and Training

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The State of New Hampshire provides a unique program of continuing professional development through the Bureau of Education and Training (BET). The Bureau offers a variety of training programs – including in LEAN process improvement and management and Certified Public Supervisor/Manager credentialing – to all public employees of New Hampshire.

NH Certified Public Managers

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The Certified Public Manager® program is a nationally accredited comprehensive management development program specifically for managers in federal, state, and local government. The program’s primary goal is to improve the performance of public sector managers and the organizational performance of state, local, and federal government. In New Hampshire, the program is divided into two levels: Level I (called the Certified Public Supervisor program) and Level II, which results in CPM status being awarded.