Education in the First State
November 25, 2020

Delaware students thrive during in-person learning

Thanks to the hard work of educators and school staff across the state, including careful planning and conscientious following of needed safety measures and protocols, students in most schools across Delaware have been given the option to return to some form of in-person learning if their families so choose. The Delaware Division of Public Health reports that school faculty and staff's hard work has paid off with low COVID-19 cases numbers in schools and  similar to what has been found nationally and internationally no significant spread in schools.
Delaware educators have been working hard to provide rigorous, relevant instruction regardless of students' learning format. We asked them to help us share some of the good stories happening in our schools. Have another story to share? Email it to so we can feature it in a future newsletter.

Christina School District Shue-Medill Middle School music teacher Bill Storck starts each class period with a meditation practice and discussion of mindfulness-related concepts. "Many students are finding it tremendously helpful for dealing with stress and heavy emotions, especially during crazy 2020," said Storck. Check out these student testimonials.

Shue-Medill Middle School's 6th Grade Chinese immersion teacher Andrea Li's led presentations for students on this year's presidential election. "Students have been doing good work during in-person learning," she said.

EastSide Charter School in Wilmington has been offering a weekly COVID-19 testing program for all staff and students. 

EastSide Charter has also been hosting safe events for students and families, providing a way to continue engaging their school community during hybrid learning.

New Castle County Vocational-Technical School District has been offering in-person instruction to its high school students since Oct 19.  NCCVT's hybrid plan is built around career and technical education instruction, with students who choose to do so attending in-person classes one day a week and virtual instruction the remaining four days. "No hybrid schedule is going to be ideal," said Superintendent Joe Jones, "but we were committed to developing a plan that would offer our students valuable in-person instruction with their teachers at least one day a week." Jones said students remain in the same learning pod and do not mix groups which, in addition to following all safety practices, has helped keep the district's students and staff safe.
Christina secretary named Delaware's first Educational Support Professional of the Year
Christina School District Secretary Alice Williams becomes Delaware's first Educational Support Professional of the Year (more pics). 
A senior administrative secretary from Christina School District's Jennie E. Smith Elementary School is the state's first Delaware Educational Support Professional of the Year.
Secretary of Education Susan Bunting surprised Alice Williams by presenting her with the award at her school Friday morning. Williams, who has 24 years of experience including eight with the state, originally planned to become a teacher. Instead, life eventually brought her into a position working as a secretary in a high poverty school in Wilmington.
"It was here that I learned to look past the first impressions of each family and to attempt to remove the obstacles that prevent student success," Williams said.
"I have witnessed hidden and overt criticism of parents when students are unprepared for school or when the adults appear unsupportive. I quickly learned that hygiene issues can be the result of transient living situations, unavailable washers or dryers or non-working utilities. Parents or guardians may not be able to produce the necessary documents to register their child for school because they're behind in paying the utility bills that are required to verify the address or have utilities in the name of another person due to past balance. A parent who uses public transportation will take hours to come pick up a sick child or may have to walk if they don't have bus fare," Williams said. "My experience has helped me recognize the balancing act that parents have between their job and family responsibilities. Sending a parent away and asking them to come back to school with the required documents can force a choice between keeping their job or not registering their child for school."
State welcomes new leader for early childhood support
Yvette Sanchez Fuentes recently named DDOE's first associate secretary for early childhood support.

The Delaware Department of Education (DDOE) is excited to announce that Yvette Sanchez Fuentes joined the department earlier this month in the newly created position of associate secretary for early childhood support. The Early Childhood Support Team includes the Office of Early Learning and the Office of Childcare Licensing.

Fuentes has been influential in driving effective policy and practice change at the local, state and national levels. Her extensive work in the field includes former positions as: director of the federal Office of Head Start for the Obama Administration; policy advisor for Aspen Institute; deputy chief for policy and research at Child Care Aware of America; division director for Children, Youth and Families Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo County in California; and senior advisor at Teachstone Learning.

As Governor Carney said earlier this year when announcing the restructuring of Delaware's early childhood services and creation of this position, "Early childhood experiences are critical to a child's success in school and in life. By consolidating governance and creating a single point of accountability, we can better support programs, families, children, and our great early childhood workforce."

DDOE is excited to have her on board to work in collaboration with its early learning and childcare teams to help Delaware continue to lead in this important work.
Delaware partnerships mean more books for students

Red Clay Consolidated School District's Linden Hill Elementary School students pose with their new reading books from First Book (more pics).
Since June, the Delaware Department of Education (DDOE) and First Book have been working together to provide books to Delaware students participating in the state's Summer Reading Program and also to help supply emergency COVID-19 child care centers through the fall. 
After hearing about the work of First Book in Delaware, the non-profit organization Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women offered to be a match provider in the program. Pi Phi purchased an additional $30,000 in books to match the previous $30,000 already spent, allowing Delaware to give more than 14,000 books to area students so far this year!
Student access to quality reading materials supports the Delaware Literacy Plan, which establishes a framework to address the state's literacy challenges. Literacy success requires a combination of high-quality early learning experiences, rigorous elementary and secondary instruction and strong community support.
Learn more about this and other work First Book is doing in Delaware at
Delaware celebrates school psychs on social media
Cape Henlopen School District's school psychologist Ryan Palmer has modified his office and uses personal protective equipment (PPE) to maintain safety during in-person meetings with students and staff.  

Delaware celebrated National School Psychology Week (NSPW) earlier this month from Monday, Nov. 9 through Friday, Nov. 13NSPW honors the important work school psychologists and other educators are doing throughout the state to help all Delaware students thrive. This year's theme was the Power of Possibility.

Delaware school districts and charter schools, the Delaware Association of School Psychologists (DASP) and the University of Delaware shared pictures and information on social media using #NSPWDE2020. A collection of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter posts highlights the important work school psychologists are engaging in throughout the state. 

Thank you to all those who participated for recognizing their critical role in our schools. Thank you, school psychologists, for everything you're doing to support Delaware students! 

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