Education in the First State
August 30, 2017
Welcome back to a new school year!

Secretary Bunting speaks with students at Laurel Middle during the first week of school.
Students and staff from Laurel Middle School in the Laurel School District welcomed Governor John Carney and Delaware Education Secretary Susan Bunting into their classrooms earlier this week.
Joined by Representative Tim Dukes, Senator Bryant Richardson and Laurel Board of Education President Linda Wintjen, the visit celebrated back-to-school week for many students and staff throughout Delaware.
The visit also gave attendees a chance to hear directly from Laurel Middle School teachers and administrators about how they were able to significantly improve student achievement in just two years.  
More photos are available online.  
Colonial farmers markets become popular stops for summer eats

Students enjoy fresh produce this summer at Colonial's pop-up farmers market. 
Herb Anderson brought his grandchildren to Eisenberg Elementary School's pop-up farmers market every day it was open this summer. The Colonial School District market helped Anderson care for his grandchildren and also exposed them to healthier eating while they were out of school, he said. 
"My grandson had kale chips and I was shocked - he loved them," said Anderson. "It's something new he would have never tried had it not been for coming here."
The markets, held every Wednesday afternoon beginning mid-June through early August, offered Delaware students lunch at Eisenberg Elementary and McCullough Elementary schools. The meals were part of the federally funded Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) to help children in low-income areas across the state receive healthy food options while schools are out of session.
SFSP is operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and managed locally by the Delaware Department of Education. The program has 328 approved sites for food distribution across the state. Traditionally, SFSP invites families to grab food in school cafeterias, but SFSP also now offers alternatives like mobile meals, food art, edible education, and farmers markets.

Educator Spotlight: Monique Taylor-Gibbs shares on teaching in high-needs schools

Taylor-Gibbs surrounded by her students at Red Clay's Warner Elementary School. 
For the past 15 years, Monique Taylor-Gibbs has taught fourth and fifth grade at Red Clay's Warner Elementary School, a building that - like other high-need, city school - has struggled to retain teachers.
"Each year, I ended up staying for the next group of students. Every year that I considered leaving, there was a group coming up whose parents reached out to me and asked, 'Can you stay one more year?'" she said.
She considers her greatest accomplishment to be the authentic relationships she has built with her students, many of which continue after she has them in her classroom.
"It's going to the football games, going to the house. It's seeing them out in public and giving them a hug. It's being called 'Mom' 17 times a day accidentally," she said. "I don't strive toward a title. I'm very big on the legacy and memory I leave in my students' minds."
Working in a high-need school is challenging, but often the rewards outweigh the challenges, said Taylor-Gibbs.

Teachers rock STEM education at Guitar Project in Wilmington

Teachers from Delaware and across the country display electric guitars they built during the national STEM Guitar Project. 
Teachers from across the country came together this summer at Mount Pleasant High School in Wilmington to build electric guitars - guitars constructed with the same precision needed to create the great music and art they represent.
"I have friends who played the guitar I made in the program and cannot believe the quality, craftsmanship, or playability of the guitar," said Mac Emerson, a Construction Technology teacher from William Penn High school in the Colonial School District. "They find it hard to believe I have not been making them for several years, let alone that this is the first one I have completed."
Emerson and 13 other teachers built guitars during the national STEM Guitar Project, a five-day professional development opportunity held in Delaware for teachers to learn how to better engage students and spark excitement in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.

During the event, participants learned how to develop STEM-related lesson plans while crafting their own electric guitars, some with pink or purple marbling and others in natural wood grain. The idea is that educators who know how to have fun with STEM can better show students the benefits of STEM education. 

Building Delaware's talent pipeline: A statewide model of college-career readiness


Editor's Note: The following was written by the Delaware Department of Education's Office of Higher Education Director Shana Payne and the
Director of the Career and Technical Education (CTE) and STEM workgroup Luke Rhine. Both will be speaking on "Building Delaware's talent pipeline" at TEDx Wilmington on Tuesday, September 12

In Delaware - as is the case across the country - students are discovering through college placement tests that they are graduating high school less than fully prepared for the level of rigor necessary in college courses. Of Delaware public high school graduates entering an in-state college or university this fall, 41 percent will begin their post-secondary education behind their peers, according to the state's 2017 College Success Report. These students will need to pass non-credit remedial classes before they can enter the college-level coursework needed for their degrees. The reality can be jarring: Acceptance to college does not guarantee readiness for college.

For Delaware, high remediation rates have also become a critical sign that students are graduating from high school ill-prepared for future careers as well. The state encourages those not planning to attend traditional, four-year universities to still be ready to succeed in college-level coursework. Many middle-skill, entry-level jobs need higher-level math and literacy skills. Delaware also promotes the need for all students to obtain some sort of certificate or degree beyond high school to compete in today's labor market. The skills taught in remedial college courses are often the same skills students need in order to get these technical degrees and certificates.

Other Good News in Delaware's Public Schools