Education in the First State
May 26, 2021
Delaware's dual language immersion learners head to high school
Chinese dual language immersion student, Saige I, pictured in kindergarten when she started Caesar Rodney School District's program at McIlvaine Early Childhood Center and in 8th grade at Fifer Middle School (more pics).
Kindergartners who began learning in two languages in 2012 as part of the state's first cohort of dual language immersion learners are now moving on to high school. More than 100 students from immersion continuation programs at Fifer Middle School and Postlethwait Middle School (Chinese - Caesar Rodney School District), Selbyville Middle School (Spanish - Indian River School District), and Skyline Middle School (Spanish - Red Clay Consolidated School District) are transitioning to the next phase of their immersion education. Caesar Rodney students will continue at Caesar Rodney High School, Selbyville students at Indian River High School, and Skyline students at A.I. duPont High School

Students who grew up in the program say they enjoyed the experience. Postlethwait M.S. student London P. says she has enjoyed her middle school immersion experience mostly because it allowed her to learn "different people’s perspectives on why or how things happen" and also "a little more of the language.” Fifer's Abigail M. says she enjoyed challenging herself the most.

Students also say they are looking forward to continuing their language learning in high school. 

“What I am looking forward to the most is meeting new people and maybe teaching them some of my language or learning new language from others,” Skyline M.S. student Sianni L. said.

At the high school level, immersion students will have a variety of options to continue to strengthen their language proficiency while applying learning in real-world academic and career contexts. Ninth grade immersion continuation students will be able to take the AP Language and Culture course in their immersion language, if they are ready to do so. These students can earn the Delaware Certificate of Multiliteracy in their ninth grade year as well.

These language skills, students say, will benefit them in the future.

“As I plan to work in the medical field, knowing a second language can be greatly beneficial as I would be able to communicate with Chinese colleagues and assist patients with a low level of English proficiency,” Fifer M.S. student Isabella A. said.

Me beneficiará en mi carrera en el futuro de ser una enfermera que habla los dos idiomas, porque en el hospital, casi no hay muchas enfermeras que hablan los dos idiomas, y yo quiero ser una de ellas para ayudar a las personas que no pueden hablar muy bien en el inglés," said Skyline M.S. student Areli T. [Translation: This will benefit me in my future career as a nurse who speaks two languages, because in hospitals, there are hardly any nurses who speak two languages, and I want to be one of them so that I can help people who don’t speak English well.] 
2021 seniors honored for their outstanding achievements
Secretary of Education Susan Bunting has honored 90 public school students from the Class of 2021 as Secretary of Education Scholars.
While the Delaware Department of Education was unable to host its traditional banquet to honor the scholars due to COVID-19 restrictions, the scholars are being recognized online to showcase their outstanding achievements.
"These seniors have accomplished much during their high school careers. Their outstanding academic achievements and leadership records both in and out of the classroom are extremely impressive," Bunting said. "They have persevered even though COVID-19 forced them to learn and work differently. They have succeeded due to their hard work and the support of their families and educators. Graduation marks not an ending but a new beginning for these students, who will now embark on college, military service and/or their chosen careers. Congratulations to these students and those whose support enabled them to achieve so much.”
The state has named Secretary of Education Scholars every year since 1984.
Families, colleagues celebrate Delaware's outstanding educators
Allen Frear Elementary School teacher Sarah Hanson gets a shout-out from a student during this year's Teacher Appreciation Week.

Delaware students, families, schools and the community recognized educators in early child care facilities, pre-K settings and K-12 schools throughout the state during this year's Teacher Appreciation Week in early May. During the week, DDOE received shout-outs from students, families and colleagues. People also posted their own messages using the hashtag #IloveDEteachers

Posts celebrating teachers were shared on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Check out this roundup of social media posts to see how Delaware schools and communities showed appreciation for our great educators. Thank you all for your support of our amazing teachers!  
Building strong student, family relationships key to student success
Editor's note: The following guest piece was written by July Eaby, a 4th grade teacher at Capital School District's Booker T. Washington Elementary School and Capital School District’s 2021 Teacher of the Year.

Relationships...they are the key to successful teaching. I believe positive, meaningful relationships based on mutual trust are essential for learning to occur.
In college, we were taught the skills to be an effective teacher, knowledge of content, instructional planning, assessments, etc. I honestly thought that if I mastered all this information, I was golden. Upon graduation, I thought I was 100 percent prepared to teach any child that came my way.
When I welcomed my first class, in 1993, I realized I was prepared with academic and organizational skills but completely unprepared for the social and emotional skills required. Talk about naive, I thought all parents would be kind and involved in their child's education and all children would arrive prepared to learn each day. Unfortunately, that was not reality. Suddenly, I was faced with barriers between me and my students being able to learn; they lacked food, shelter, attention, and far too often, safety. I realized little learning was going to occur until these issues were addressed. I needed to build extremely strong relationships with my students and their families, identify their needs and make sure those needs were met.
Shortly thereafter, I attended a workshop presented by Dr. Michael Ford. He began by stating, "I want to do some role playing. When I walk in the room, greet me." Everyone greeted Dr. Ford with a slight smile and a wave. Then he said, "Now, I want you to greet me as if I was Jesus!" We were shocked but complied. We smiled, joyful smiles, showered him with compliments and warm greetings, and gazed at him lovingly. Then Dr. Ford asked, "Which greeting would make you feel more welcome?" He then said nine words that would change my life forever: "Doesn't every child deserve to be greeted like Jesus?" Just like that, my perspective on teaching changed. I could not wait to see my students and greet them “like Jesus.”
When I began greeting my students in this positive manner, they were happier, more engaged, behavior improved, and more learning occurred. This new approach began to saturate every interaction I had with students and their parents.
Two years ago, as I scanned my new class roster, I saw THAT name, the name that no one else wanted on their roster -- Harold. Harold was one of our most well-known students but not for the best of reasons. Harold's disciplinary reputation was well known. I thought, "Ugh, this is awful. I wish he wasn't." and caught myself. I said to myself, "Oh, Julie, no you don't. This is not who you are. Think positively!"
On the first day, Harold came in, hung up his belongings and came to me and announced, "I am Harold. I am bad and dumb." Oh, I was ready for Harold. I grabbed a report and said, "You claim you are dumb? Well, according to these test scores, you earned two of the highest scores for math and reading!" Harold's little jaw dropped. He was shocked, so I swooped in with another positive whammy. I said, "You also told me that you are bad. Since you walked in silently, put away your belongings, and greeted me, I'd say you are beautifully behaved!"

Harold could not fight his smile. I then gave Harold a genuine and loving greeting, hugged him, and told him I felt blessed he was in our class. From then on, I smothered Harold with love and attention, told him how much I trusted him, and even cheered him on at his basketball games. Sometimes, Harold would stray, but I would ignore the inappropriate behavior and instead reward any appropriate behavior I could observe.
I cried when Harold's classmates awarded him with the Citizenship Award. He asked if I was crying and I explained that my eyes were sweating. When Harold made Honor Roll, he announced he was determined to do it the whole year. My eyes sweated again. By March, Harold was tutoring classmates and leading projects. In June, he reached his goal of being on the Honor Roll the whole year. When he received his certificate, he said, "I bet your eyes are really going to sweat now!"
My experience has taught me that relationships; strong, loving, trusting, genuine relationships must be developed and nurtured between teachers, students, and their families for students to succeed in the classroom. It takes a great deal of time and energy to foster these relationships. However, it is always worth it. The children are always worth it!
Six Delaware teachers named finalists for national PAEMST award
The Delaware Department of Education has named six Delaware teachers as state finalists for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST), the highest recognition that K-12 STEM teachers can receive for outstanding teaching in the United States. Finalists’ applications will now move forward to the national level for final selection of the 2021 PAEMST Awardees.

The 2021 DE State Finalists are

  • Mathematics
  • Katherine Hoffecker, Odessa High School, Appoquinimink School District
  • Tommie Polite, Laurel Middle School, Laurel School District
  • Michael Reitemeyer, Las Americas ASPIRA Academy
  • Science
  • Corey Butterfield, George Read Middle School, Colonial School District
  • Brian Heeney, Delcastle Technical High School, New Castle County Vocational Technical School District
  • Erin Motley, Gunning Bedford Middle School, Colonial School District

“Congratulations to these teachers for being recognized for their outstanding teaching that helps students meaningfully engage in science and math,” Secretary of Education Susan Bunting said. “They have already demonstrated leadership their schools by modeling superior instructional practices. Thus I am thrilled they are being recognized by the state and potentially by the nation.”
Other Good News to Share
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