English teacher at state prison is New Hampshire Teacher of the Year

  • Kimberly Piper leads her class at the New Hampshire Women’s Prison in Concord in May. On Wednesday, she was named the New Hampshire Teacher of the Year. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Kimberly Piper leads her class at the New Hampshire Women’s Prison in Concord in May. On Wednesday, she was named the New Hampshire Teacher of the Year.

  • Kimberly Piper leads her class at the New Hampshire Women’s Prison in Concord in May. On Wednesday, she was named the New Hampshire Teacher of the Year.

Published: 10/9/2019 3:34:11 PM

Kimberly Piper-Stoddard, an English teacher for inmates at state prison in Concord, has been named New Hampshire’s 2020 Teacher of the Year, the first time that award has gone to an educator at what is known as Granite State High School.

Piper-Stoddard becomes the state nominee for National Teacher of the Year and will be representing New Hampshire at several events throughout the year.

Piper-Stoddard spent the majority of her career teaching middle schoolers until four years ago, when after looking for a change she saw an ad for an English teacher at Granite State High School, inside a micro district called the Corrections Special School District, which operates within the prison walls. Since then she has taught at both the men’s and women’s prisons in Concord as well as the Northern New Hampshire Correctional Facility in Berlin.

The high school is fully accredited and recognized by the state Department of Education, giving inmates an opportunity to earn a high school diploma. Those who have already completed high school can take classes as well.

In May, Piper-Stoddard described to the Monitor some of the difficulties of teaching in a prison, where security is paramount, Internet is not available, and inmates might suddenly leave class when their sentence is finished.

Despite that, she said, the classes are fun because the students, who can range in age from 18 to 70, are engaged.

“They might not be excited to be in prison, but they’re choosing to come to school,” she told the Monitor earlier this year. “Whether it’s learning disabilities or home life, whatever may be impacting their ability to succeed at school, these men and women here have figured it out and put it together – with our help, but largely it’s their determination to decide to do it. We’re just here to help them along the way. That’s really powerful for me.”

Piper-Stoddard was surprised by the Teacher of the Year announcement during a ceremony at the State Prison for Men.

New Hampshire Teacher of the Year finalists were Jeremy Brown of Littleton High School; Sarah Grossi, Con-Val Regional High School; John “Drew” Groves of Bow High School; Barbara Milliken of Oyster River High School; and Christine Stilwell of Robert J. Lister Academy.




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