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Kate Erskine: Everyone should get chance for a top-notch education

By TIM BUCKLAND
New Hampshire Union Leader

January 28. 2013 1:22AM

Kate Erskine, 38
Home: Manchester

Birthplace: Brattleboro, Vt.

Immediate family: Partner: Jolene, daughter: Cora, 3

High school: Manchester Central High School

College/post-grad degrees:

B.A., Wellesley College

Current job: Executive director of Breakthrough Manchester at The Derryfield School

Key past positions held: AmeriCorps Learn and Serve Member, science educator in Quito, Ecuador

Volunteer activities: Alumni interviewer for both St. Paul’s School Advanced Studies Program and Wellesley College

Most admired person (outside your family): Locally, Dr. Selma Deitch, founder of Child Health Services and a founder of The Derryfield School. National/world: Michelle Obama, Hilary Clinton, Madeline Albright

Key current professional challenge: Increasing educational access and quality for highly-motivated Manchester students with limited opportunities, especially those who will be the first generation in their families to obtain a four-year college degree. At the same time, helping to train teacher interns to be effective and inspiring educators in tomorrow’s classrooms.

MANCHESTER - Kate Erskine has made it her mission to see to it that everyone has an opportunity at top-notch learning.

"I've always been interested in educational equity," said Erskine, a Manchester native whose work with Breakthrough Manchester has earned her a spot on the 2013 class of the New Hampshire Union Leader 40 Under Forty.

"I was thrilled," Erskine said of her selection. "I think it's quite an honor."

Erskine is the executive director of Breakthrough Manchester, which is housed at The Derryfield School.

The program has two missions to accomplish simultaneously. It provides a place for promising middle school students with limited opportunities to experience learning in a college preparatory environment through after-school and summer programs. The program is tuition-free and continues with tutoring when the students are in high school.

Their teachers? High school and college students who are the target of the second mission: to inspire students to pursue a career in education.

Asked about her last major achievement, Erskine responded, "There is not just one. Yesterday, a Breakthrough high school senior walked into my office and shared the news that she was accepted into four colleges, including some generous financial aid packages. These are the achievements that make my day - it's a privilege to be part of her path to college, and there is a huge community of people in Manchester and at Derryfield who were part of her hard work, as well."

Erskine said her career prior to Breakthrough Manchester included involvement with New Hampshire AmeriCorps performing administrative duties in the service's Learn and Serve Team, as well as three years as a teacher in Ecuador.

She said she saw taking over the Derryfield School program as "a way to marry all my interests" in teaching and administration.

Erskine, 38, lives in Manchester with her partner, Jolene, and daughter, Cora. She is a 1992 graduate of Manchester Central High School.


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