Education in the First State
September 30, 2015
Students with disabilities gain job experience, direction for careers
These Project SEARCH interns work at Bayhealth Medical Center's Kent General Hospital in Dover
Alexis Carney, 18, has a lot of responsibilities for a high-school student. An intern at Bayhealth Medical Center in Dover, Carney escorts patients to diagnostic imaging, answers the phone and directs visitors. She works the front desk, sanitizes tables and chairs in the waiting area and assists with deliveries and assembling patient packets.

Carney, who attends Kent County Community School in the Capital School District, is a Project SEARCH intern. She began the program earlier this month. A high school student with disabilities, she says she is excited about her new tasks.

"Before I heard about Project SEARCH, I was completely overwhelmed about what to do after graduation," she said. Now, Carney said, "I'm excited and pumped."

Each year Delaware's Project SEARCH helps students with disabilities from New Castle and Kent counties transition out of high school and into higher-level skilled careers. Through internships with area businesses, these students gain meaningful work experience, become more employable and change attitudes at work and at school about what those with disabilities can do when high expectations exist alongside strong supports. 
Brandywine mentoring program provides supports to new educators

Teachers new to Brandywine participate in the district's induction program.

"Who are you?"  As part of Brandywine School District's induction for teachers new to the district, 30 educators huddled into inner and outer circles, turned to face strangers, and shared their answer to this question with a new colleague.  The process later was repeated with new partners as they answered, "How do others see you?"  and "Who do you want to be?"
These questions, whether used to meet new colleagues or in classrooms with students, are meant to unpack mindset, build community and forge relationships by giving everyone a voice. Reflective learning and a focus on culturally responsive teaching are central to the district's refreshed induction and mentoring program for new educators, Brandywine Superintendent Mark Holodick said.
"Teacher preparation and support is a critical responsibility of ours at the district office.  We now have an induction program for our newly hired teachers that effectively connects the dots between preparation (professional learning) and support (seasoned and highly effective mentors)," Holodick said. "We know that well-prepared teachers produce high student achievement and are more likely to remain in the teaching profession.  Thus, it is imperative that we get induction right and ensure that positive teaching habits and practices are encouraged, taught and instilled starting day one of employment."

More on the grants
The state awarded $198,180 in the competitive grants for school year 2015-16 to 14 districts and charter schools. The 14 awardees represent seven first-time grant recipients and seven previous recipients. About 1,200 novice educators will be impacted through this grant opportunity, receiving stronger professional and personal supports that are in greater alignment with their individual needs. Since program conception, more than 25 unique district and charter schools have applied for the grant.

Examples of other innovative induction models being funded include:
The Indian River School District will be pushing for full implementation of the Schoology online learning management platform to allow for further differentiation of levels of support provided to mentors and mentees.  Using Schoology, the district will be developing a lead mentor course and training tutorials on effective videotaping and coaching technology.  Indian River School District intends to share the courses they develop with the department and other districts throughout the state.
The Appoquinimink School District will be purchasing technology to record classroom activity on iPad Mini's and Swivl to allow for better coaching, insight, and dialogue between mentors and mentees. The district also will be using this technology to record professional learning activities to be saved for educators who join the district mid-year.
The Colonial School District offered those teachers who were hired early (March-June) the opportunity to jumpstart their learning and indoctrination into the district by being paired with a veteran teacher during their four-week summer school program. New educators participate in face-to-face and virtual sessions on a variety of topics including vision, goal setting, leadership, classroom management and assessment through Colonial and partnerships with organizations such as Teach for America and the Relay Graduate School of Education.
The department intends to make CIP grants available for the 2016-17 school year with the application launching in November.

Counselors advocate for student success
Smyrna High School counselor James Kiger encourages students to self-reflect to help them determine their career and educational interests.

Every year James Kiger, an 11th grade counselor at Smyrna High School, asks high school juniors to imagine their ideal lives. Using floor cards, students consider what these futures looks like from the inside out. They walk around the room, reflecting on whether their strengths, interests and values align with what they have envisioned.
For some students, these futures do not always sync with their likes and dislikes. Following one of Kiger's recent coaching sessions, a student who had always wanted to be a teacher discovered she had little interest in working with children.
It is this type of in-depth self-reflection and discovery that Kiger enjoys most: "I have always loved taking a student from where they are and moving forward."

This type of program is also being encouraged by the National Model for School Counseling Program, a framework developed by the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) to assist school counselors in supporting the current educational reform movement emphasizing student achievement and success.
Traditionally, school counselor roles have varied across states and districts. Developed in 2012, the ASCA National Model re-envisions the role of the school counselor to become a more proactive advocate for academic achievement, career planning and personal and social development in students. Additionally the national model aligns school counseling programs with school and district missions and school improvement plans.

Farm-to-Preschool brings Delaware produce to state's youngest learners
Children get to touch, taste and learn about produce such as Delaware watermelons through the Farm-to-Preschool program.

The Delaware Department of Education is pleased to support a new national initiative, Farm-to-Preschool.

The program provides institutions in the Child and Adult Care Food Program with ideas and resources to help teach preschool aged children where food comes from.

On September 11, department nutrition program staff members partnered with Sussex County farmer David Marvel to provide two childcare centers in Delaware with locally grown and freshly picked watermelons.
Children at Beach Babies in Lewes and Pactt Child Care Center in Georgetown, touched, tasted and learned all about watermelons. Marvel explained how a watermelon grows and how to tell when it is ripe. He also shared watermelon wedges for the children and adults to taste.

This event was the first official Farm-to-Preschool event in Delaware.

School Spotlight
Parents, educators 'one team' at Frear Elementary
In August, the Parent Teacher Association at Caesar Rodney School District's Frear Elementary sponsored a "Meet and Greet" Back to School event, where among other offerings, the PTA provided hot dogs and promoted Academic Olympics with a slideshow. PTA President Heidi Lutman, left, says, "We try to model a selfless spirit: Tell me what you want to do tell me what you need."
Picture this: 700 elementary school students laughing as they race around outside, playing games that promote fitness and reinforce what they are learning in their math, English language arts, social studies and science classes. Parents cheering on their children or volunteering across the field. Teachers getting soaked in the dunk tank. Oh, and raising more than $13,000 for the school.

At Caesar Rodney School District's Frear Elementary, students are gearing up for the school's fifth annual Academic Olympics on Friday. The PTA-sponsored fundraiser is just one of the creative ways the school's Parent Teacher Association engages families while supporting educators and students.

"Our PTA is continuously innovative in thinking of ways to 'raise the bar' to support our students and overall school community," said Principal Julie Lavender, who has been a Frear PTA member for 10 years, first as a teacher, teacher leader and assistant principal and now as principal. "At Allen Frear, you can't distinguish the staff from the PTA members/volunteers. We are one team, working together, for a common goal of ensuring student success not only in school but in life." Read more here.
Other Good News in Delaware's Public Schools