Award nominee


Kristina Hartwell, a 1st-grade teacher at Wheelock School in Keene, displays the work of her classes as part of an event for 2019 Teacher of the Year award nominees.

K ristina Hartwell , a 1st-grade teacher at Wheelock Elementary School, has been nominated for the 2019 N.H. Teacher of the Year .

On Tuesday, Hartwell and 22 other nominees presented on their work in the classroom for members of the selection committee, which includes previous winners of the award, members of the state board of education and the commissioner and deputy commissioner of education.

Hartwell presented student projects, as well as information on her role as Wheelock’s data specialist and the Keene School District’s 1st-grade curriculum leader. One project she highlighted was her “cultural statements.” Each year, Hartwell’s students read books connected to the statements, and they’re then hung around the classroom. During Tuesday’s event she had the statement “We make mistakes” hung on her board.

“I read a story called ‘The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes,’ and then we all sign it as a contract that everyone in the room is allowed to make mistakes. I have student teachers from Keene State all the time, so we always make sure that when I make a mistake, we talk about it, when they make a mistake, we talk about it,” Hartwell said.

Hartwell grew up in Keene and graduated from Keene High School before attending the University of Connecticut and Charleston Southern University. She taught 4th grade in Charleston, S.C., for eight years and moved back to Keene in 2010 to teach 1st grade at Jonathan Daniels Elementary School. This is her second year teaching at Wheelock.

Hartwell said she enjoys helping her young students navigate through the school.

“... In the lower grades, going from 4th grade to 1st grade, I feel like we’re teaching them not just the foundations of reading and math and stuff, but we’re really just teaching them how to be learners in general,” she said.

As a teacher, she sees her role as finding ways to incorporate learning into everyday moments.

“In my application I had to say what my message would be if I was to win, and I said that my message would be that you need to teach all the time,” she said. “... I always kind of pride myself on that; I really just try to teach all day every day, whether it’s using nouns or how to tie their shoes or how to solve a problem.”

Robert H. Malay, superintendent of N.H. School Administrative Unit 29, which includes the Keene School District, noted Hartwell’s dedication to her students.

“I think Kristina is an amazing educator who makes the learning come to life for her students. She’s a 1st-grade teacher, and so to be able to have that passion and that drive to make learning enjoyable and fun for students is absolutely critical at that young age,” he said. “She is certainly a well-deserving candidate of the Teacher of the Year award.”

The pool of candidates will now be narrowed down to eight, and then further narrowed to five finalists, Hartwell said. Over the summer, a selection committee will visit the finalists at their schools, and a winner will be announced in September.

Students from South Meadow School in Peterborough were named the second-place winners in Gov. Chris Sununu’s “What’s So Cool About Manufacturing?” video contest. Caitlin Beal, Lili Juarez and Eva McCullough created a video about Peterborough manufacturer Vicuna Chocolate Factory and Cafe for the contest, taking viewers through how chocolate is made and packaged there. To watch the video, visit

South Meadow students also submitted videos to the New Hampshire League of Middle School’s “We Love Our School Because ...” contest. Wyatt Beaulieu, Bryson Boice and Connor Stadjuhar were the first-place winners in the contest. Their video highlights different classes, clubs, sports and special events at South Meadow School. The video is available at

The Peterborough Rotary Club recently hosted three students from ConVal Regional High School for the Four Way Test Speech Contest. The students, seniors Aiden Hall of Peterborough, Natalia Hautanen of Peterborough and Timothy LaPierre of Dublin, were selected for the contest through a competition in their public speaking class.

Each student prepared a five- to seven-minute original speech about everyday relationships applying the Rotary Four Way Test, which asks: Is it the truth; is it fair to all concerned; will it build goodwill and better friendships; and will it be beneficial to all concerned?

They were scored on content, organization and delivery. Hautanen was named the winner of the contest and will move on to the district competition on May 6. Hall was the second-place winner, and LaPierre came in third.

Cutler School in West Swanzey has received a $500 grant from the Children’s Literacy Foundation. The grants were awarded to 20 past grant recipients to support literacy programming. The school was also awarded $150 in new books through the FirstBook program.

The grant will support a visit to the school from writer Michael Daley on April 17. Daley is the author of the “Pinch and Dash” books as well as “Space Station Rat,” among others.

Through April 18, the Jaffrey Grade School Student Council is collecting donations to install a water bottle filling station at the school, which will reduce plastic use, limit the spread of germs and save time. Each student was sent home with a milk carton for coin collection. The student council hopes to raise $800 for the filling station.

What’s going on in your school? Let us know! Education reporter Meg McIntyre can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1404, or mmcintyre@

Recommended for you