2019 Champions for Children
The Champions for Children award program was established by New Hampshire School Administrators Association as a meaningful way to recognize New Hampshire citizens who have given distinguished and voluntary public service to benefit children. Winners must embody, through action, the guiding principles to champion efforts designed to successfully provide for the needs of all children. Their recognition reflects unique and special service above and beyond their normal duties.
NHSAA recognized five New Hampshire citizens at its annual Champions for Children award ceremony at the Grappone Conference Center in Concord, N.H., on Friday, May 10, 2019.
This year's regional winners are (pictured left to right):
Kim Molin for the South East Region
Patty Langlais for the South Central Region
John Bentley for the Lakes Region and Statewide Champion for Children
Mayor Paul Grenier for the North Country Region
Lee Kimball for the South West Region
John Bentley has been a tireless partner with the Andover and Merrimack Valley School Districts, SAU #46, for many years. With his overall volunteer and philanthropic efforts. John consistently thinks of how he can help the students and community of the Merrimack Valley School District From educational initiatives to basic needs, John has a positive impact on the MVSD community of learners..
In 2007 John and his wife suffered the devastating loss of their daughter Katie at the age of 4, but from that suffering came a special dedication to the children and school district. To honor his daughter, he established The Katie Bentley Lilac Project – a tax exempt, non-profit organization that promotes the planting of lilacs in public locations throughout NH. He also speaks to 4th graders in the MVSD each year about this project and connects lilacs to NH History, he also spearheads a Coats for Kids program to make sure that any student that needed a Winter coat would have one. He reached out to individual and corporate donors to get coats for kids and their families. At the same time, John organized places to keep the coats with a goal of having a location in each of the eight schools around the District. He works to help alleviate the school lunch debt of needy families by finding donors, which led to support of the Backpack Program through the Friends of Forgotten Children which provides backpacks full of food. He has also led 26 blood drives since 2007, collecting 1,400 units of blood for pediatric patients. Randy Wormald, Assistant Superintendent of SAU #46, remarked, “The above mentioned qualities do not begin to touch on everything that John Bentley brings as a Champion of Children to the Merrimack Valley School District. His unwavering dedication to improving the lives of all students is truly admirable.
Sheriff Scott E Hilliard, Sheriff of Merrimack County stated, “I can think of nobody better suited to be a recipient of this fine award than John Bentley, he does things quietly with no fanfare and asks for nothing in return. John Bentley is a man of compassion and caring; a true Christian.
For 10 years, Paul Grenier has served as the Mayor of Berlin, NH and has actively promoted the public school system in the community. He considers the opportunities for students at all stages of the annual school and city budget process. Since 2010, the city has increased its financial support to the Berlin School District. The local property tax revenues allocated to public schools has increased from 29.0% to 44. 7%, from a community that only has an estimated 32% of taxable property. The benefits have been in technology by providing one-to-one devices to all students, supporting the addition of full day kindergarten, maintaining all student activities and athletic programs in the shadow of decreased state funding.
Of recent, Mayor Grenier has joined forces with school administrators and North Country Legislators in advocating for the State of NH to accept responsibility for adequately funding the education of children.
Brian Lamirande, Business Manager for the Berlin Public Schools, remarked, “Mayor Grenier has devoted 27 years and counting to being a public servant. He sits on numerous Boards and Commissions and consistently uses his influence to promote recreational opportunities and extracurricular sponsorship for student events. He has always been supportive of our School District and the needs of the children as he works with us to obtain the funding we need. In addition to all of the time spent in his numerous political roles, Mayor Grenier is the coach for the Berlin Youth Hockey Instructional Program from October to mid-March, working with children from age's two to six. He also volunteers his Friday evenings to chaperoning public skating at the Notre Dame Arena Friday evenings. He is passionate about his community and has made it his life's goal in making Berlin a community that are local youth will want to stay and raise a family once they have grown. He has always recognized that children truly are our future and constantly shows it through his actions and support.
The Chair of the Berlin Board of Education, Nicole M. Plourde commented, “Paul is the first one to both step-up to help and to show up to cheer at any school event. I can't think of anyone who is more deserving of this recognition than Mayor Paul Grenier.”
Lee Kimball is a behind the scenes worker who ensures that the schools and the town departments work together to have solid emergency management plans. He coordinates trainings for those plans and makes sure that they or living and useful plans and not just filler for binders on a shelf. He staffs the emergency operations center during weather events to coordinate responses and improve communication and safety. He mentors a number of young men through his work for Bow Youth Football. He is one of those people who is the quiet and unobtrusive glue holding a community together and serving without seeking compensation or recognition
Dean S. T. Cascadden, Superintendent of SAU 67 stated, “Lee is one of those quiet people who works hard behind the scenes to be a Champion for Children. His work in safety and his mentorship to the students of Bow are outstanding. He works hard and gives back to his community without much recognition or compensation. His volunteer work and beyond the job professionalism make our schools and our larger community a better and safer place to live, work and raise a family.
Bow High School Head Football Coach/Safety Officer/Mathematics Professor Paul S. Cohen stated “I have known Lee Kimball for 18 years, in my capacities as Safety Officer/Head Football coach at Bow High
School. During this time, I have had the pleasure of numerous interactions with Lee, concerning both football and safety. Lee is passionate about both, as evidenced by his tireless desire to make Bow Youth Football the most effective, fun, and goal-oriented youth football program in the area. His efforts have resulted in big dividends for me at the high school level. Prior to 2005, there was no youth program in Bow. This made the high school football experience for many Bow players brand new and difficult. Lee and the other coaches of BYF for the past 13 years or so have made the transition from youth to high school football significantly more rewarding and successful for the youth of Bow.”
In addition to serving as a diligent and thoughtful member of the Hudson School Board for 9 years, Patty Langlais has given countless additional hours to the children of Hudson. She has been instrumental in Class Act, a community theater program for Hudson youth, tirelessly giving of her time and talents in supervising scene making, arranging and repairing costumes, arranging fund raisers, and feeding cast and crew on long rehearsal nights.
Assistant Superintendent, Mary E. Wilson said, “Patty is the guardian angel to Hudson families that feel their voices are not heard and advocates tirelessly so there is equity of services of contractors and companies that operate outside of the school district's control. For example, she paid for an adult to help a wheelchair bound student in a private after school care that would not take the child into the program until the wrong was righted.”
Lee M. Lavoie, Hudson School Board Vice-Chair, noted, “Patty is one of those behind-the-scenes people. Not only does she donate hundreds of hours, she is also the first one to donate financially. It may be setting up concessions stands for a Unified Theater event, serving hot chocolate at our cardboard sled races, providing liability insurance for a nonprofit event, painting scenes for our school theater program, setting up a candy bar at the Unified Prom, or being on the advisory committee for early childhood education at Alvirne High School.”
Kimberly Molin is a true supporter of the children and educators of the Seabrook area. From supporting and coordinating a lunch program at Barnard School, to providing snacks and refreshments for budget meetings, treats for Teacher Appreciation, she demonstrates the true qualities of a leader and promoter of a positive role model.
Ronna Cadarette, Assistant Superintendent of SAU #21, said, “Kimberly Molin exudes "champion" in everything that she does - a breathing manifestation of NHSAA principles. Kim hos dedicated her life to children beyond her own three. There is not a task that she hasn't willingly done for the children South Hampton and Amesbury High School: trunk-or-treat, delivering Friday lunches, chaperoning every known field trip, and always nurturing. This year concludes her 11th on the three-member School Board, and 10th as PTO Officer/Member. There are 950 people in the entire town, and Kim knows them all. She cultivates on inclusive culture of care and kindness - a champion for children.”
Barnard PTA Vice-President, Sharon Gordon, commented, “Kim is a gracious leader in our community. She goes out of her way to welcome new families and encourages fresh ideas from new volunteers to keep our school and community vibrant. She is wonderful inspiration: a teacher, and enjoys passing on responsibilities to willing volunteers and PTA members. Kim has such a beautiful way of handing over the reigns but being supportive at the same time. She is an amazing example for the kids at Barnard.”