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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Downtown Nashua group’s director resigning

Downtown group’s director resigning

Sue Butler will step down as executive director of Great American Downtown to begin her own consulting business next month.

Butler’s resignation was announced by the group’s board president, Sherrilyn Alden Bellavance, on Friday.

Butler joined Great American Downtown in 2008 after five years as the director of marketing for Intown Manchester, that city’s downtown improvement group, Bellavance said.

“Since Sue joined the organization, she has been integral to the success of Great American Downtown,” Bellavance said.

The Great American Downtown board of directors will begin the search for a new executive director shortly. Interested candidates can submit a resume to info@greatamericandowntown.org.

Layoff notices rescinded

Layoff notifications to four school guidance counselors were rescinded last week after school officials said the budget picture for next year looks as though their jobs will be secure.

The Board of Education voted Wednesday to rescind the notices, which were sent out in April. Superintendent Mark Conrad said the positions were included in next year’s budget, but the notices were sent out in case further cuts were made or other funding issues arose.

However, not all board members agreed it was the right move.

Sandra Ziehm voted against the move, arguing there are more pressing needs in the district than guidance counselors. For example, Ziehm said the district isn’t meeting the state minimum standards in special education. Money could have been used there or put toward reinstating the district’s gifted and talented program, she said.

“From my perspective, there were other areas of much greater need,” Ziehm said.

Conrad said outreach guidance counselor positions at the high schools created two years ago would have been lost otherwise. The counselors have been able to work directly with students at risk of dropping out and keep them in school, he said.

Remembering a mentor

John Centeio took disadvantaged students under his wing and gave them a chance.

Even after his death, Centeio continues to make a difference.

This month, Centeio’s family dispersed $2,500 in scholarships to three Nashua high school students. The John Centeio Memorial Scholarship recipients were Gahungu Simon, Amanda Freeman and Allen O’Dell.

Centeio was 61 when he died last year. He was retired, but was working part time as a school cafeteria monitor and was also the assistant coach for a school track team. The Telegraph spotlighted his and his wife’s commitment to helping Hector Cora, a Nashua High School South senior who was trying to graduate.

Sandy Centeio, a retired teacher, said the family looked for students whom her husband would have wanted to help. The money for the scholarships came from friends, family and coworkers.

“We looked for students who were determined to continue their education in spite of some pretty big hurdles – students who already knew that it would take extra hard work and sacrifice to follow that dream,” Centeio wrote in an e-mail.

“A high school teacher’s willingness to mentor John led to his getting into Brewster Academy, after which he furthered his education at Boston University. He was determined to pay it forward, and he did.

“We think these candidates will not only be successful in their own life pursuits, but will also pay it forward.”

Habitat on the move

Greater Nashua Habitat for Humanity has moved into digs of its own for a change.

The nonprofit moved from Temple Street to 92 Main St. in downtown Nashua following significant growth in the last two years. The organization hired its first staffer recently, a director of resource development, and its group of volunteers is also growing, spokeswoman Elizabeth Tereshko said.

The new offices put Habitat for Humanity close to other agencies, including Great American Downtown and Renaissance Downtown Nashua, President Ed Lopez said.

The group is finishing construction of a home in Wilton and will begin a new project in Hudson soon, Tereshko said.

Nashua … From the Inside was compiled by staff writers Michael Brindley and Joseph G. Cote.