A Portsmouth educator has been named the 'New Hampshire Instructor of the Year' by leaders at a New Jersey nonprofit organization committed to protecting youth from the proliferation of drugs, drug-related crimes, bullying and violence.

Kathy Birse Siegel, who is the head of the health and physical education department at Portsmouth School District, usually teaches the "Too Good for Drugs" program for Law Enforcement Against Drugs & Violence to around 185 students in the seventh grade at the middle school each year.

Due to COVID-19 pandemic protocols, Siegel was assigned 100 students for the 2020-21 academic year.

Siegel could not teach her students in person until the last nine weeks of the spring semester, so Lisa Remick, Siegel's colleague, nominated her for the award.

Remick wanted Siegel to be recognized for her hard work redesigning the L.E.A.D. curriculum to cater to Zoom.

“I learned to use breakout rooms so that my students could work in small groups on Zoom, and I sent the textbooks home so that we could still use them during online sessions,” Seigel said in a statement.

As part of her job, Siegel checks in with her previous seventh-grade students at Portsmouth High School, who take the L.E.A.D. course there as part of their health requirement to graduate.

“When assessed, my students give positive feedback and apply their newfound knowledge about the dangers of drugs and violence to their daily lives,” she said in a statement. “The hands-on approach and development of self-confidence in setting and achieving personal goals are important life skills taught in the seventh grade L.E.A.D. curriculum.”

L.E.A.D. provides the resources law enforcement agencies need to have the means to partner with educators, community leaders, and families.

According to a press release, the organization has found success by providing proven and effective programs to deter youth and adults from drug use, drug-related crimes, bullying and violence.

For more information, visit their website.

Contact Managing News Editor Kimberley Haas at Kimberley.Haas@townsquaremedia.com.

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