Thank you for your service Mr. Hedge!!! 

David Hedge has been the Student Assistance Counselor (SAP) at McLaughlin Middle School in Manchester for over twenty years. He is retiring this year and will be greatly missed.  Executive Director Mary Forsythe-Taber has this to say about Dave “Every young person thrives with positive, consistent adult support… throughout his career, David Hedge has been a relentless advocate and champion for youth and young people. David has consistently engaged and supported youth, introducing them to prevention and helping them see how their voices and actions can have a positive effect on their peers.  He saw the value and impact of teaming up with community-based partners such as  Makin’ It Happen, to support youth development in the communities in which they live. David’s dedication and commitment have helped expand peer-2-peer and youth leadership development within the Greater Manchester region”.

We connected with Dave for an interview to chat about his experiences as SAP and key collaborator with Makin’ It Happen. Check it out below:

What made you become a Student Assistance Counselor (SAP)?

I dreamt of working in a school environment ever since my Junior year of high school way back in the 70’s.  Though it took me over 20 years to realize that dream, I worked with youth and families living in Public Housing then with the Division for Children, Youth and Families and finally getting my chance in 2000.

What has been your best experience or favorite memory?

I have many but the best experience was my first day on the job as I finally realized my ultimate goal.  My favorite memory is of each and every student that I had the honor of working with no matter what the circumstances were that brought us together.

How did you get involved with Makin’ It Happen (MIH)?

Early on in my career as a SAP Makin’ It Happen was there to support our role in the schools. MIH assisted all SAP’s with some financial assistance affording us the opportunity to secure materials to help us provide for our students.  As time has passed MIH and I have worked very closely in providing youth the opportunity to grow and learn in a safe and nurturing environment and for us adults to grow and learn from them.

Do you have a favorite memory of your time with Makin’ It Happen?

I have many favorite memories working with MIH.  I have two specific memories that stand out to me. The first is when MIH teamed up with DEA360 and the theory that Adults had all the answers became a myth.  It was at that time we shifted to listening to the students and understanding that they (the students) knew how to get things done. Us adults learned to stand back and support the students in how they wanted to deliver the message of prevention.  The second memory is when we brought a group of students to Atlanta, Georgia for a National Conference.  It was at that time we saw the students flourish and become the leaders they are today.

What are your imparting words of wisdom?

Continue to listen to our youth, they are truly the future, they are important to the success of prevention.  Without the voice of the youth, you have no future.

How do you wish to be remembered by the work that you did- your legacy?

My hope is that some day, the youth I have had the honor of working with just stop and take a moment to think about their next choice in life and at that moment they make the right choice for themselves.

What recommendations do you have for those that will work with youth in the upcoming years?

Value their opinions, listen to them and help guide them to be successful.

What do you think is important to work on to create positive change for youth in Manchester and NH?

Continue to value them as a resource and allow them to grow.  The youth will listen to their peers!

What are your retirement plans?

Spending more quality time with my wife, traveling the country and visiting places we haven’t been able to visit until now, spending time with our grandson in Texas. One of my favorite things to do is coach so I will continue to coach Middle School basketball and High School Softball for the foreseeable future.

Thank you Mr. Hedge for all your hard work and dedication. We will miss you. Congratulations on your retirement!