Education in the First State
August 29, 2018
Welcome back! We're ready for a great school year!
Students at Fairview Elementary School in the Capital School District show Delaware Education Secretary Susan Bunting the tablets they use to complete class assignments during a visit this morning.   

Students and staff from throughout Delaware are starting to celebrate back-to-school week. Fairview Elementary School in the Capital School District welcomed Delaware Education Secretary Susan Bunting today. Thank you, Principal Melissa White, for the impressive visit.

See m ore photos online. Be sure to tag us in your back-to-school photos and we'll share on social media!  
Top mathematics, science teachers recognized
Delaware will name the 2018 PAEMST awardees on Thursday, Nov. 15 in Dover. Pictured left-to-right: Milford School District's Brandy Cooper, Red Clay Consolidated School District's Annette DeBastiani, Indian River School District's Jennah Truitt, Appoquinimink School District's Danielle Rash and Brandywine School District's Leona Williams.

Five Delaware teachers have been named finalists for the highest recognition that K-12 mathematics and science teachers can receive for outstanding teaching in the United States. These finalists will be honored at a banquet in Dover on November 15, alongside the state's Lifetime Achievement Award winners, who will be named at the event. 
The 2018 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) finalists include three math and two science teachers from
Appoquinimink, Brandywine, Indian River, Milford, and Red Clay school districts. PAEMST finalists earn a chance to be named a 2018 math or science awardee by the U.S. Department of Education. 
Awarded each year by the White House, PAEMST is given to mathematics and science teachers from each of the 50 states and four U.S. jurisdictions. In addition to honoring individual achievement, the goal of the PAEMST award program is to exemplify the highest standards of mathematics and science teaching. Awardees serve as models for their colleagues, inspiration to their communities, and leaders in the improvement of mathematics and science education.
Every year each state selects up to five mathematics teachers and five science teachers as state finalists. The award alternates between teachers teaching kindergarten through 6th grade and those teaching 7th through 12th grades.

Some districts, schools make 2018 assessment gains

2018 state, district and school level assessment results were released to the public on Aug. 1.
Statewide assessment results released this month show gains made in some districts and schools with local administrators crediting a variety of supports for their students' growth.

District and charter leaders in the schools said they used state-provided resources such as a free digital library of teacher-designed curricular supports as well as interim assessments to better identify student learning gaps and target instructional support. Many also credited strong, systematic professional learning for educators and the use of professional learning communities to give staff time during the school day to discuss student learning and focus instructional supports.

"Our educators and students worked hard to achieve these successes," Secretary of Education Susan Bunting said. "We're seeing more schools and districts using tools provided by the state to help inform instruction and improve student learning. We will continue supporting our teachers so that we can collectively improve achievement levels across the state."

The district with the highest performance overall in English language arts (ELA) was Appoquinimink followed by Cape Henlopen and Caesar Rodney, tied for second. In math, Cape Henlopen led the state followed by Appoquinimink and Indian River, tied for second. Newark Charter and Sussex Academy topped charter schools in the state for ELA and math.

Laurel School District's gains were the greatest in the state for ELA and second greatest for math this year. ELA went from 32 percent proficient in 2015 to 41 percent in 2017 and 51 percent in 2018, a 10-percentage point increase since last year and a 19-percentage point increase since the assessment was first administered. In math, the percent proficient went from 20 percent in 2015 to 38 percent in 2017 and 42 percent in 2018.

Springer Middle School establishes native meadows 
Students at Brandywine School District's Springer Middle School work with Dr. Don Coats, DVM, to plant native wildflower seeds. See more pictures online
When retired veterinarian Dr. Don Coats of Chadd's Ford, PA, visited Brandywine's Springer Middle School last year to discuss bees, he could not have known how far the school would go to welcome the threatened species.

Coats, a beekeeper and advocate for native bees and plant species, attended a Springer zoology elective at the request of eighth grade science teacher Jonathan Sypher. Coats shared with students a live hive and explained to them in detail how bees are important to the ecosystem. He discussed the need for bees to have access to native wildflower gardens, or native meadows, which offer a mix of seasonal grasses and insect-friendly wildflowers to support declining populations of pollinators, such as bees and also butterflies and moths.

Sypher, who has been teaching a zoology elective at Springer for over three years, wondered if the two grassy areas near the school's bus lane would make good native meadows. He asked Coats to come back and take a look. Coats has created native meadows at Winterthur, Oberod, Flint Woods and more in an effort to expand native areas in the region. He agreed that Springer had the location for a native meadow. Last summer, with the support of Springer Principal Tracy Woodson, Sypher and Coats started creating Springer's first native meadow outdoor learning area.

Last fall, in anticipation of the garden, students at Springer helped prep and sow native wildflower seeds like black-eyed Susans, mountain mint and milkweed. In March, they added additional plants that had already been germinated. Today, the plants are thriving and playing host to many species of bees, moths and butterflies. Springer's native meadow is ready for students to study this fall.

Delaware FFA students receive awards at state fair

Delaware FFA students competed in a series of events this summer at the Delaware State Fair in Harrington. More pictures, courtesy of the Smyrna-Clayton Sun Times.

More than 350 Delaware FFA members and advisors were recognized this summer for their accomplishments during the annual FFA awards breakfast held in conjunction with the Delaware State Fair.

Members were recognized for top notch performances in career development events and their high-quality landscape displays, agriculture-product displays, floriculture displays, and agriscience fair projects. Additionally, the Delaware FFA Foundation awarded eight scholarships to deserving FFA members. Agriscience instructors were also recognized for their valued efforts by the Delaware Association of Agriculture Educators.

FFA members from 30 different chapters received certificates and plaques in recognition of their continued success. Senator Carper, Senator Coons, Representative Blunt-Rochester, and Lieutenant Governor Hall-Long delivered special greetings to the attendees. 

In addition to the Career and Leadership Development awards, McKenna Breeding from the Caesar Rodney FFA chapter was selected as the State Star Greenhand and Maci Carter from the Lake Forest FFA chapter was selected as the State Star Chapter award recipient. Both of these individuals competed against other members for these prestigious awards.

See the full story for a list of the winning teams and the top three individuals in each career and leadership development event. 

Other Good News in Delaware's Public Schools