MAP offers low student-to-teacher ratios and myriad support services to help students feel at home in school. Kiernan’s colleagues said that, while it’s true that they may have done much of the work to get the program off the ground, Kiernan was the impetus that got it started.
“If Henry would be thought of in one way, it would be innovative,” said Seinfeld. “There were a lot of calls for an alternative school” in 2005. “He heard those calls almost immediately upon arrival, and he took it on. Think of all the kids who have gone through [MAP]. If not for Dr. Kiernan, I don’t think the program would have gotten off the ground.”
Over the past eight years, Kiernan has brought a number of nationally recognized educational programs to the district, including:
• Project Lead the Way, a pre-engineering program that introduces students to electronics design.
• The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, a grant-funded program that offers history students and teachers a series of learning opportunities that go well beyond the state-mandated social studies curriculum.
• Virtual Enterprise, which gives business students the chance to compete in local, state and national contests, in which they must market products in a computer-simulated world.
• Big History, a program developed by Microsoft founder Bill Gates that combines science and social studies to look back 13 billion years to the origins of the universe.
In September 2011, Kiernan gave students a voice at Board of Education meetings when he asked one student representative from each of the three high schools to offer reports on student activities and accomplishments during board meetings. “It’s very important for students to have a voice in decision-making,” Kiernan said. “That’s my favorite part of the meeting –– hearing what they have to say about what’s going on.”
“Henry Kiernan is a brilliant man who knows education inside out,” said Saul Lerner, the district’s director of health, physical education and athletics. “He’s brought some incredible programs to the district, and he will be sorely missed. I have tremendous respect for the man, and it’s been a pleasure to spend the last eight years with him.”