For many years now, there has been a dinnertime tradition at my house.  As we sit down to enjoy each other’s company and the evening meal, we share something we are thankful for and something we are hopeful for.

There aren’t too many rules about what we call our “Thankfuls and Hopefuls.”  We used to say them first and try to keep the lists short enough that the food wouldn’t get cold, but as my daughters have grown older, and the “Thankfuls and Hopefuls” have become even more involved and interesting, we finally decided to go ahead and eat while we share (and do what we can not to speak with our mouths full).

As Thanksgiving approaches, and we all prepare to sit down and enjoy each other’s company and a good meal together, here are a few things from recent weeks that I’m Thankful for:

The New NECC Web Site

With amazing new photographs and videos, and a “goal-based” navigation system, the new NECC web site provides easier access to information and services for prospective students and their families, accessibility adaptations for people with visual or hearing impairments, more direct links for business and industry partners, and a lot of other exciting improvements.

Many thanks to Vice President of Advancement Jean Poth, Executive Director of Marketing and Communications Ron Taber, Director of Online Communications and the project’s leader, Nathan Gilbert, and the whole NECC Marketing and Communications team.

NECC Web Site

MassINC and Gateway Cities

Gateway Cities” are mid-sized urban centers around Massachusetts that for decades were the “gateways” to the American dream, offering residents good jobs in booming industries and places to live in thriving economies.

These days, many of these cities and towns—places like Haverhill, Lawrence, Lowell, and Worcester—face more than their share of challenges, with higher rates of poverty and lower rates of educational attainment than other parts of the state.

MassINC is an independent, non-partisan think tank that created the concept of Massachusetts’ Gateway Cities, and invests time, money, and attention into researching and lobbying for ways to help these communities thrive again.

Last week, MassINC held their fifth annual Gateway Cities Innovation Awards Luncheon in Lawrence at the Wood Mill, and honored some Commonwealth leaders who are finding creative ways to revitalize their communities; including NECC, the Lawrence Partnership, the City of Lawrence, and Lupoli Companies, who partnered with Ray Gonzalez to launch the Revolving Test Kitchen at the Hub on NECC’s Lawrence campus.

New Ways to Teach and Learn

One of the many things I love about NECC is that we are a community of educators who are constantly experimenting and innovating to discover new and effective ways of teaching and learning.

Earlier this week, at Governor Baker’s “Convening for Digital Innovation and Lifelong Learning” at MIT, NECC’s Dean of Professional Development and Academic Innovations, Dr. Kimberly Burns, facilitated a panel of faculty and staff that shared our collaborative work on “Competency-Based Education,” or CBE.

CBE programs provide a more flexible approach to education, particularly for adult learners, who can take courses online or in a “hybrid” format (partly in class and partly online), and work through the course at their own pace, demonstrating their competencies as they go and completing classes and credentials sooner.

Last year, NECC became the first community college in Massachusetts to offer CBE coursework when we launched an eight-course certificate in Computer Applications; and Monday at MIT Dr. Burns and company explained how we are partnering with Middlesex Community College to create CBE courses to meet the critical demand for Early Childhood Educators in Massachusetts.


And a few things I am Hopeful for:

Running the Campus

Clear, cool weather and a cheering crowd for all the members of the President’s Running Club and the other NECC faculty, staff, students and supporters dashing the 8th Annual Pentucket Pride 5K in West Newbury the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

The Return of a Holiday Tradition

Packed audiences and an enjoyable run for NECC’s 18th (almost) annual production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol after a two-year hiatus; featuring co-directors John and Deirdre Budzyna, musical director Alisa Bucchiere, and NECC alumnus Mark Morrison once again reclaiming the spirit(s) of Christmas in the role of Scrooge.

College Sports

A great bowl game pick (maybe the Outback, Citrus, or Holiday) for the 16th ranked Michigan State University Spartans.  Go, GREEN!


A peaceful, restful, healthy, and enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday for you and yours.  As you sit down to dinner and enjoy the company of family and friends, may you truly give thanks for the good things in your life, and let the spirit of hope lift you up and inspire you and those around you.