Education in the First State
May 30, 2018
Student, Teacher of Year seek equity in education

2018 Delaware Teacher of the Year Virginia Forcucci snaps a selfie with her students. 

Editor's note: This guest post is from Jinni Forcucci, a Sussex Technical High School English language arts teacher and the 2018 Delaware Teacher of the Year, and one of her students, who wishes to remain anonymous.

A few months ago, my students read a Flannery O'Connor story that explores an anti-hero's inability to love self. The character, ironically named Joy, matures under the scrutiny of a judgmental mother in a gender discriminatory South, where both her physical appearance and unpopular philosphies fail to satisfy conventionality. My students, quickly realizing the woman's need for human connection and acceptance, empathized with her struggle and recognized that many of us spend our lives needing. They also recognized that when Joy identifies her differences as her strengths, she can begin healing and embracing a sincere love of self. 

O'Connor's story organically opened up class discussion surrounding my students' needs. Highly aware that individual hardship is often a direct result of external factors, factors that are often out of their control, a number of my students enter my room knowing that their needs have not and are not being satisfied, that their experiences in our schools and in our communities do not mirror those of their classmates, that they will have to work harder and longer to overcome some of the societal obstacles that most often prevent comfort, achievement, equity.

My students decided to write Open Letters to intended readers who have either helped them defeat these obstacles OR to intended readers who represent these obstacles.

What follows is one letter, written by a Sussex Technical High School student, who wants readers to hear her, to consider her, to value her.

Eagle Scout restocks Pulaski basic needs closet

Wilmington Charter freshman Tyler Suchyj designed and restocked a basic needs closet at Pulaski Elementary
When Tyler Suchyj was trying to decide on a community project to lead as part of his work toward becoming an Eagle Scout, he thought about the kind of impact he wanted to have.
"I have volunteered at Pulaski (Elementary) and have seen first-hand the needs of the children, and I wanted to help," he said.
About 75 percent of the children at the Wilmington school come from low-income families. Suchyj wanted to help meet their out-of-class needs so they could concentrate in class.  In August, Governor Carney's Office designated the Christina School District elementary school as one of 40 buildings across the state to receive a basic needs closet. The initiative aims to give children a discreet way to get the clothing, school supplies and personal care items they need.
But by spring, Pulaski's supplies were dwindling. Suchyj saw how he could help.
So the Charter School of Wilmington freshman got to work. He decided that more than just supplies, the school needed support for its storage space. He designed the construction of shelves and racks for an empty closet. He contacted home supply stores asking for building material donations. He started a supply drive, seeking needed clothing, personal care items and other goods for the closet. And he organized volunteers, including fellow scouts from Troop 29 and members of his Western YMCA swim team, to volunteer to construct the closet.
"I learned that no one can worry about learning if they are missing the basic needs and comforts that most people take for granted, including myself," Suchyj said.
Although the construction of the closet is now complete and restocked with collected supplies, Suchyj wants to keep supporting the school. He's working with retailers as well as collecting donations from the public. To help, contact him at
To learn more about how you can support basic need closets across the state, visit the Governor's Office's page here.

Secretary highlights Delaware early learning priorities
Editor's Note: This guest post is written by Madeleine Bayard, vice president of policy and practice for the Rodel Foundation of Delaware.

Delaware's Secretary of Education, Dr. Susan Bunting, has a penchant for quality early learning. The Selbyville native, who previously helmed one of the state's largest districts in Indian River, is a firm believer in the powers of high-quality pre-K. It's why she helped spearhead the acclaimed Project V.I.L.L.A.G.E. program for four-year-olds who came from low-income Indian River families.

We caught up with Sec. Bunting to talk Project V.I.L.L.A.G.E., and her early learning priorities as the head of Delaware's educational efforts.

As a lifelong educator, parent, and grandparent, tell us about your experience with children who get high-quality learning experiences before they get to kindergarten.
It can be hard to separate my parent/grandparent and educator selves, but in both areas, I see the need for children to be ready for kindergarten to be able to maximize what happens when they get there.

My mother was an educator, so I think this was always bred into me. I am one of those people who was reading to babies in utero and to infants.

We see the impact of high-quality learning before children get to kindergarten-the vocabulary of children who are read to and spoken with, and those who have context about what they are reading so they can understand the story and the ideas.
Delaware celebrates educators using #IloveDEteachers
Thank you for your support of Delaware educators! Delaware students, families, schools and the community recognized great educators in early child care facilities, pre-K settings and K-12 schools throughout our state during this year's Teacher Appreciation Week from Monday, May 7 through Friday, May 11. Check out all the photos and more highlighting Delaware's great teachers and teacher appreciation celebrations. More than 350 public posts appeared on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #IloveDEteachers
Colonial engages students, community in STEAM
Students from William Penn High School demonstrate the spontaneity of chemical reactions at this year's Colonial STEAM Showcase (more pictures).
Editor's Note: This guest post is written by Colonial School District Instructional Coaches Jennifer Ashby and Tara Amsterdam.
From the science of slime to artistic works and music, the 2018 Colonial School District STEAM (Science, Math, Engineering, Arts and Technology) Showcase had something for everyone this year. Teams of students and teachers from all 15 Colonial schools showcased STEAM projects including architecture in the classroom, agriculture from the farm (including the increasingly popular baby goat named Red), arts and even music.

"The goal of the STEAM night is to allow students an opportunity to showcase the interactive activities that promote critical thinking, their ability to analyze information and solve complex real world problems that show connections between science, math, engineering, arts, and technology.", said Kim Mulvena, Colonial School District's instructional science coach.

Each Fall, teachers from across the district gather to discuss and plan for the annual STEAM showcase. Colonial is consistently considering ways to improve the showcase by encouraging building teams to focus on a particular theme. This year's theme centered on complex problem-solving using the engineering process.  
Other Good News in Delaware's Public Schools