Photo Gallery | Manchester students heading back to school

MANCHESTER — Ready or not, school is starting and kids of all ages are back in action in crosswalks and classrooms all over the Northshire.

But it's not just the first day of school for the youngsters. For Martin and Irene Nadler, the new co-principals of Manchester Elementary Middle School, it's their first day of school too.

Although they've been in education since the late 1960s, Wednesday (Aug. 31) will be their first day with MEMS full of students. They started just three weeks ago, and their days have been full since then working with the faculty and prepping for the school year.


"We've been spending a lot of time talking to teachers, parents and staff trying to build a sense of community and of coming together for the kids," Martin Nadler said.

After interacting at length with the school's employees, he expressed confidence in their abilities.

"The staff here is effective, very professional, caring, hard working, dedicated, and quite knowledgeable," Martin Nadler noted. "They are very up-to-date on research-based education."

MEMS will serve about 380 students this year, with about 47 percent of them qualifying for free or reduced lunch, he said.

The challenge, as the Nadlers see it, is to establish some managerial consistency after a series of administrative changes over the past few years.

"Changing leadership led to a lack of follow-through on some strategies and planning, and made it tough on morale," Irene Nadler said.

Something else the Nadlers hope to accomplish is "bringing more parents into the school to support the students and the instructional program," noted Irene Nadler.

Irene Nadler will be supervising grades Pre-K through 4 with Martin Nadler taking grades 5 through 8. These are the age groups the two have been concentrating on for nearly their entire careers.

Students prepare for the start of classes in the library at Burr & Burton Academy on Wednesday.
Students prepare for the start of classes in the library at Burr & Burton Academy on Wednesday. (Scott Stafford — The Manchester Journal)

And they welcome input from the community.

"We'll have an open door policy for teachers, parents and community members," Irene Nadler said. "We want this school to be the best reflection of the community it can be."

Meanwhile over at Burr & Burton Academy, freshman orientation was Wednesday, and all-student day is Friday.

Headmaster Mark Tashjian personally greeted each of the 150 freshman students as they entered the school Wednesday, as he does every year.

This year, he expects 680 students with a faculty of about 65. And this year, Tashjian noted, the school has drawn international students who hail from Spain, Germany, Norway, Brazil, Vietnam, Ghana, Thailand, South Korea, China and Japan.

This year, the students can look forward to working with advanced technology (each student gets an iPad).

"We want technology here to be ubiquitous and seamless," Tashjian said.

At the same time, he noted, the school is in the early stages of a partnership with the former Lincoln estate Hildene.

"All summer, students have been working the fields at Hildene, growing food that will be eaten at the school," Tashjian said. "At the same time we're teaching advanced technology, we're also teaching hands-on agricultural skills, the kind of learning that is rooted in the Earth."