CONCORD, NH — The New Hampshire School Administrators Association held the annual Champions for Children celebration on May 28. The event was not held last year, due to COVID-19, so the winners for each region of the state were honored for 2019-2020 and 2020-2021.

Each year the Association selects a statewide individual to receive this award. The award program was established 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.

School Administrative Unit 58 (SAU#58) selected Shirley Nickels for the 2019-2020 award for her dedication to the Griffin Donald Kenison Foundation, in memory of her grandson. Nickels was then selected by the NHSAA as the North Country recipient as well.

In 2020-2021, Louise Collins received the SAU #58 North Country award, and was chosen from a highly-deserving group of individuals across the state to be the 2020-2021 NHSAA Champion for Children.

Dr. Ronna Cadarette, Superintendent of Schools for SAU#58, shared, “As the face of the community, Louise is just as committed to the academic success of our students. From the onset of COVID, she has advocated strongly for students to be “in school.” This was not a demand, but a promise to do whatever was in her power to support us to get schools open safely.

“This summer, she was in the facilities weekly coordinating with our maintenance staff and administration to determine how to make social distancing happen safely with her expertise in the construction industry. As a business owner and volunteer, she personally helped to explore spaces, measure areas, purchase sample products, and construct tools to provide “6 feet.” She helped to design our plexiglass dividers and enabled ways to experiment with the best products for our needs. She donated hours of her own time and celebrated when our final products were being constructed in classrooms, and helped me to invite hesitant teachers and parents into our spaces for private tours to help alleviate their anxieties. She did not benefit from this financially, but donated and provided at cost when she could have sold at a profit to other entities.

“Mrs. Collins proudly serves on our local School Board and SAU 58 Joint Board. Her smile and laughter help guide us on the journey of always advocating to promote the prudent stewardship of public resources in budget development and programming for the students of our rural community. The decisions are not easy and not always popular, but Louise serves as a voice of reason and calm. She is a light in our lovely community and a champion for everything ‘children.’”

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