Education in the First State
September 25, 2019
2020 Teacher of the Year to be named in October
Twenty of the state's top teachers will be honored at a banquet next month, when one of them will be named Delaware's 2020 Teacher of the Year.
The winner will be announced at the annual award dinner on Tuesday, Oct. 15 at the Dover Downs Hotel and Casino in Dover. Funding for the award ceremony is provided in part by a grant from Voya Financial. The program begins at 6 p.m. with the announcement coming at the end of the night.
The candidates were nominated by their districts or the Delaware Charter Network during the 2019 calendar year because of their superior ability to inspire students with a love of learning, exemplary demonstration of professional traits and strong sense of dedication and devotion to teaching. 
Each nominee submitted a detailed online application exemplifying his or her teaching philosophy. Five Delaware Department of Education staff members independently evaluate each application. A former state Teacher of the Year and a member of the department staff also visit each candidate's classroom to observe his or her teaching. Taking into consideration the ratings from the application review and classroom observation as well as a recorded presentation by the nominees, another independent panel of non-department judges then selects the one teacher who will serve as the 2020 Delaware Teacher of the Year.
The teacher chosen to become the State Teacher of the Year will become Delaware's nominee in the national program, a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers in partnership with the Voya Foundation. 
By action of the General Assembly, the Delaware Teacher of the Year will receive a $5,000 grant to use for the educational benefit of his or her students, as well as a personal grant of $3,000.  Additionally, all nominees will receive a $2,000 grant from the state.   

Appoquinimink: Stephen Landry,  Appoquinimink High (mathematics)
Brandywine: Lauren Conrad, Concord High (music-vocal)
Caesar Rodney: Sabra Collins, Caesar Rodney High (physical education)
Cape Henlopen: Brennan Clarke, Shields Elementary (English as a second language)
Capital: Erica N. Richard, East Dover Elementary (K-4 mathematics specialist)
Charters: Kayla Sweet, Kuumba Academy (6th grade mathematics)
Christina: Lindsey Muldoon, Shue Medill Middle (8th grade English language arts)
Colonial: Rebecca Louise Vitelli, Colonial Early Education Program (prekindergarten)
Delmar: Donna Huston, Delmar High (English language arts)
Indian River: Arthur Henry, Millsboro Middle (music-band)
Lake Forest: Christina Hughes-Gallo, Lake Forest High (social studies)
Laurel: Donna Sava, Laurel Elementary (1st grade)
Milford: Jaime Hill, Morris Early Childhood Center (kindergarten)
NCCVT: Anthony Webb,  Delcastle High (mathematics)
POLYTECH: Nick Post, POLYTECH High (electrical trades technology)
Red Clay Consolidated: Richard F. Weaver III,  AI duPont High (music-band)
Seaford: Laura Burke, Central Elementary (3rd grade)
Smyrna: Denise Balcerak, Sunnyside Elementary (kindergarten)
Sussex Tech: Dontez Collins,  Sussex Tech High (mathematics)
Woodbridge: Stephanie Vodvarka, Wheatley Elementary (4th grade)

Website, resources support post-secondary planning 
The new Delaware Student Success website is just one of several resources available to support students, families and educators with post-secondary career exploration and education planning. 
New, rebranded Delaware Student Success website and social media resources are now available online for students, families and educators. These resources are designed to simplify the sometimes complicated process of career exploration, post-secondary education planning and financial aid. 
Replacing the former Delaware Goes to College branding, Delaware Student Success keeps the checklists, timelines and online tools available to assist seniors, families and educators. At the same time, Delaware Student Success has expanded its support to reach middle school and early high school students. This expansion aligns with Delaware's new Student Success Plan aimed at preparing students earlier to begin planning for their life following high school graduation.
Check out the new site at and bookmark it as a favorite. Follow #DEStudentSuccess on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Feedback is welcome at
For more information on the exciting new Delaware Student Success website resources, check out this quick guide

Five Delaware schools receive Special Olympics honor

Appoquinimink School District's Middletown High students and staff show off the Special Olympics banner celebrating their National Unified Champion School honor. (More school celebration photos are available here.)

Special Olympics Delaware has announced that f ive Delaware schools have been named official National Banner Unified Champion Schools for their commitment to inclusion.
Determined by Special Olympics Inc., Delaware's national awardees are Appoquinimink School District's Middletown High, Caesar Rodney School District's Caesar Rodney High,  Milford School District's Benjamin Banneker Elementary and   Lulu Ross Elementary,  and Red Clay Consolidated School District's Thomas McKean High School Just 173 schools across the country received this distinction for the 2018-19 school year.

To become eligible for National Banner status, all five schools had been named Delaware Banner Schools for the 2017-18 school year. Unified Champion Schools must additionally show that they meet 10 standards of excellence focused on unified sports, inclusive youth leadership and whole-school engagement. 

Delaware's Banner Schools for the 2018-19 school year include the National Banner winners as well as six new schools: Brandywine School District's P.S. duPont Middle, Caesar Rodney's Major George S. Welch Elementary and F.N. Postlehwait Middle, Cape Henlopen School District's Cape Henlopen High, Capital School District's Dover High, and Seaford School District's West Seaford Elementary.. These state winners are eligible to apply for National Banner School recognition for the 2019-20 school year. 

More information on the National Banner program is available online.

Millions of new records to be released to data portal
The Delaware Department of Education (DDOE) is releasing close to 10 million new data records to Delaware's Open Data Portal. The current DDOE education data sets will be replaced by 15 new sets covering both educator and student aggregate data spanning 2015-2019. This data release greatly expands the education data provided on the portal and is designed to allow for deeper and more comprehensive analysis.
"Researchers and members of the public frequently request these data sets for their own analysis. Until now, that meant submitting a work request to the department as well as a time and cost burden for both the requester and our staff. I'm so excited that the public now will have open access to such deep and rich information," Secretary of Education Susan Bunting said.
The Delaware Department of Education is a member of the Delaware Open Data Council, which brings together leaders from across state government focused specifically on making more data available to members of the public. The council is tasked with managing the  Open Data Portal, promoting open data, establishing a statewide data strategy, and recommending data standards for public data.
A breakdown of the records being released is included in the table (see full story). The release also will allow users to sort data by multiple demographic indicators. For example, under the current demographic summaries, a user can filter by two factors. For example, one can look at assessment results by grade and race. The new data sets will allow a user to filter by multiple demographic combinations. For example, one could look at assessment results by grade, race, gender and special population at the same time. The new data sets also will include a consistent key that allows users to connect data sets to provide more context.

Big Fish Foundation fundraises for basic needs closets

Delaware's Basic Needs Closets provide elementary and middle school students across Delaware with access to free products so students are better prepared to participate and learn in the classroom.

Governor John Carney and Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long announced a new partnership this month with  Big Fish Charitable Foundation  to help Delaware schools stock  basic needs closets . These closets provide elementary and middle school students across the state with increased access to free products - such as school supplies, hygiene products, and other essentials - to meet students' needs so they can effectively participate and learn in the classroom.
Through the partnership with the Lieutenant Governor's Office, Big Fish Charitable Foundation will hold events and fundraising promotions at Big Fish Restaurant Group establishments to provide additional funding to help stock basic needs closets.
"The Basic Needs Closets program helps Delaware schools stock basic resources that many of us take for granted so children can focus on learning in the classroom," said Governor Carney. "We launched this program to address the obstacles that students face in school when their basic needs are not met. Thank you to Lieutenant Governor Hall-Long for taking the reins of this initiative, and to the Big Fish Charitable Foundation for joining the many partners supporting Basic Needs Closets and making a difference in the lives of Delaware children."
The basic needs closets,  which launched in August 2017 in 43 high-need schools  across the state, are a result of  the coordinated efforts  of Delaware educators, Delaware businesses, Delaware healthcare institutions, and a partnership with  First Book .
"We know that the physical and emotional health of our students is directly related to their success and ability to learn," said Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long. "The partnership with The Big Fish Charitable Foundation and the Basic Needs Closets program will allow us to continue to serve students across our state and provide them with the best chance to achieve and become stronger and healthier."

Other Good News in Delaware's Public Schools