Education in the First State
June 24, 2020

Christina S.D. passes referendum, names new chief

Former Capital School District Superintendent Dan Shelton becomes new Christina School District superintendent.
Earlier this month Christina School District voters overwhelmingly approved the school district's referendum request, a huge victory for a district that has struggled to win voter support in the past. 
The school board also made leadership changes at the district level, including hiring an experienced superintendent with deep roots in the district. Add to that state and district investments in Christina's city schools, and the district is looking forward to a promising new school year.
We asked incoming superintendent Dr. Dan Shelton - the Capital School District superintendent who will take the helm in Christina on July 1 - to share more about his excitement for the district.
What experience do you bring to the new job?
I have more than 22 years of experience as an educator and administrator, most recently as superintendent for the Capital School District since 2015. Most of my career, though, was spent in the Christina School District. Early in my career, I worked as an educator in our city schools at Drew-Pyle and Bayard. Later, I served as school leader at Gallaher, Maclary, Christina Early Education Center, Smith, and Kirk. I know the district well and am excited to have the opportunity to lead. 
Why is the successful referendum so important?
All four parts of the referendum received more than 65 percent of the more than 14,500 votes cast. That was a record voter turnout - and one during the current state of emergency for COVID-19. That shows strong community backing of the district. Residents want strong schools and are willing to invest in the students and educators working in their community.
Had the referendum failed, the school board was faced with making $10 million in cuts to its operating budget, including the reduction of 136 jobs - many of them teachers - and the elimination of all sports and extracurricular, Chinese Immersion, and gifted and talented programs. Thanks to voters' support, the district will be able to restore previous budget cuts, allowing Christina to reduce class sizes and pay for a new elementary English language arts curriculum.

Delaware educators release message of support

An Open Letter From Delaware Educators to our Students...
Delaware educators from across the state have released a message of unity and support for students and colleagues. The video reminds students that Delaware teachers hear them, value them and will continue to fight for racial justice in our communities and classrooms.
Simmons named first DDOE chief equity officer

Governor John Carney and Secretary of Education Susan Bunting have announced the creation of the Office of Equity and Innovation and a chief equity officer at the Delaware Department of Education (DDOE).
The Office of Innovation and Improvement will transition to the new Office of Equity and Innovation, led by current director Jim Simmons, who will become DDOE's first chief equity officer. The office's initial goals are:
  • To design and implement equity professional learning at all levels of the DDOE and provide consultation and training to districts and charter schools focused on policies and practices in our school systems, facilitating constructive conversations on race and social justice, and addressing individual needs of state and local agencies to promote the elimination of racial inequities.
  • To develop and maintain an equity clearinghouse that will provide resources, trainings, conversation tools and supports to districts and charter schools so they can facilitate important conversations and lessons about equity and racism with students and staff.
  • To continue developing and maintaining a social and emotional learning (SEL) clearinghouse to provide curricular resources, trainings, conversation tools, and social/emotional supports for use in individual classrooms and in schools by LEAs and across the state education agency as well.
  • To make progress in diversifying the educator workforce.
  • To continue supports to high needs schools, particularly Christina School District's city schools. 
The team will be comprised of current employees and part-time rotating teacher equity liaisons. Additionally, staff from various teams across the DDOE will be tapped to help this team broaden its impact.
"Our revamped Office of Equity and Innovation will provide districts, charters, school leaders, and educators with the resources and guidance to have hard yet vital conversations with students and colleagues about race and inequity in Delaware and our country. If we choose to ignore our ugly history around race, we can't begin to understand the anger and frustration I've heard from so many Delawareans who are demanding justice and equality," said Governor Carney. 

Triplets earn top 3 spots in Delmar's graduating class

David, Isabel and Daniel Koval earn the top three spots in Delmar School District's graduating Class of 2020.

The Delmar School District Class of 2020 is unique in many ways. Not only are students graduating during a global pandemic, but the top three spots of this year's graduating class are going to siblings. The Koval triplets - David, Isabel and Daniel - have been ranked first, second and third, respectively, in their graduating class. 

Delmar's Class of 2020 valedictorian, David Koval, served as class secretary, Wildcat Marching Band President and treasurer of the Delaware state association of Business Professionals of America (BPA). He has played trumpet with the Salisbury Youth Orchestra (SYO) since 8th grade and is proud of completing the Sussex County Academic Challenge program in both English and Math at Delaware Technical & Community College. He is also a competitive swimmer for the Henson Family YMCA swim team based in Salisbury and has competed on the national level. He will be attending Tufts University in Massachusetts to study math and chemistry.

Delmar's salutatorian, Isabel Koval, served as secretary of Delmar's BPA, played clarinet in both marching band and the Salisbury Youth Orchestra, and completed all five years of Academic Challenge at Delaware Technical & Community College. In addition to swimming competitively since first grade, Isabel also teaches swim lessons. This fall, Isabel will be attending Lehigh University in Pennsylvania as a member of their IDEAS program, which is an interdisciplinary program combining engineering and liberal arts.

Ranked third in the Class of 2020, Daniel Koval, played saxophone in marching band and the Salisbury Youth Orchestra, and was a member of BPA.  He completed Academic Challenge at Delaware Technical & Community College and has been swimming competitively for 12 years. In addition, he has been a member of Delmar's cross country team since 8th grade and currently works at Starbucks in Salisbury. Daniel will be attending the University of Rochester, where he received the Joseph C Wilson "Change" scholarship. He plans to study biology and environmental science in New York.

All three have attended Delmar schools from kindergarten Bobcats to proud Class of 2020 Wildcat graduates. They are now looking forward to following their passions into adulthood. Congratulations, Koval triplets!

MOT Charter student builds COVID-19 data website  

Ved Tiwari, a rising sophomore at MOT Charter School, used some of his time at home during COVID-19 school building closures to build a website that provides viewers country comparison on coronavirus status by pulling information from the WHO database using API. He is the son of Sameer and Amrita Tiwari. Sameer is a data management and analytics education associate for the Delaware Department of Education.

We asked Ved to share with us a little more about the project.

How long did it take you to build the site?
The project took me about 2 ½ weeks to complete from when I first came up with the idea to the final publication of the website. I spent a few hours every day to get it done.

What was your motivation?
When quarantine first started, I noticed many people browsing hard-to-use and slow databases to search COVID statistics for their region. Personally, I found the task of scrolling through all the 200 or so countries to be a bit tedious, so I wanted to develop a tool that could help people view COVID-19 statistics of not only their country but all the other countries in the world quickly and easily. So I built the site that lays out the search results side by side and in a single view.

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