Archive for the ‘iEducate Delaware’ Category

Delaware Students have a Bright Future with MERIT

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What do Seaford, Delaware, and GOP presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson have in common? The answer is: the Minority Engineering Regional Incentive Training program (MERIT) program. John Hollis, of Seaford, is the director of the MERIT program and long-time friends with Carson.

MERIT aims to get minorities involved in STEM education and, since 1974, 350 students—97 percent, graduated from college. In the early 1990s, Carson spoke to young African American MERIT students who struggled to reach graduation. According to Hollis, Carson mesmerized the kids because he was not only a skilled surgeon but also a wonderful speaker. After this encounter, Hollis got Carson to work as a motivator and fundraiser with the MERIT program. Carson’s sons also participated in the three-week MERIT summer program.

Originally, the MERIT program only operated during the school year, but now extends into the summer to maintain momentum towards academic success. During the school year, MERIT offers: team-building engineering competitions—think fighting robots, in- and out-of-state college visits, academic enrichment field trips, and science club meetings. The summer programs functions through in-kind support from Delaware Technical Community College, and focuses on intense preparation in math, computer, and communication skills.

In addition to academic success, the program focuses on a whole-child approach. The program emphasizes parent engagement, teaches personal responsibility, demands a “pay it forward” attitude, and helps student develop a desire to give back. Similar to the Vision Coalition of Delaware’s Student Success 2025 plan and other Delaware initiatives, MERIT encourages students to not just be proficient, but to exceed their own expectations. The MERIT program prepares students for college success and equips them with the necessary skills to excel in their personal life and career.

MERIT demonstrates the ability for Delaware to produce great leaders, educators, and innovators, if we give students the correct levers for success. Commitment to education and attention to whole-child support can lead students to a career, college, or even the White House.

Note: John Hollis was a finalist for the first year of iEducate Delaware (2012).

Seeking Solutions at the Imagine Delaware Forum: A Recap

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“As Wilmington goes—I’ve heard—so goes Delaware.”

So said Susan Leath in her opening remarks Monday night at the pivotal Imagine Delaware forum from the Chase Center on the Riverfront.

Leath, president and publisher of The News Journal Media Group, was just one of many high profile speakers who graced the stage Monday night, seeking solutions from the education community and policymakers in Delaware’s largest city.

A panel discussion—comprised of state legislator David Sokola, Bank of America exec Tony Allen, Red Clay Education Association leader Mike Matthews, EastSide Charter School leader Lamont Browne, parent and advocate Elizabeth Lockman, and Red Clay Consolidated Superintendent Merv Daugherty—addressed the needs of city schools, and recommendations put forth by the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee. City redistricting, school funding models, and governance were all dissected by the group, while David Ledford, The News Journal’s executive editor, moderated the discussion.

The panel came after an expo that featured more than 54 education- and community-related vendors, which offered information to hundreds of parents, grandparents and students.

With more than 700 in attendance, the forum marked a groundswell of interest and engagement around vital issues facing our local schools. The Rodel Foundation is proud to have played a part in making the night come together. Many thanks goes to fellow sponsors United Way of Delaware, and The News Journal, as well as partner organizations Brooks Fellowship, Christina Cultural Arts Center, Delaware Grantmakers Association,
Interdenominational Ministers Action Council, Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League, and Teach For America-Delaware.

We also applaud The News Journal’s editorial team for its exemplary coverage of the event:

Schools forum brings energy for change

Education forum one-stop shopping for parents

Attendees at schools forum: ‘We need to move on it’

Replay: Imagine Delaware education forum

A Vision for Wilmington Schools

For City Schools, a Call for Reinforcements

Wilmington Schools at Crossroads

Stay tuned for continued coverage of Wilmington school issues, as well as news and updates on iEducate Delaware, a Rodel Foundation initiative that honors outstanding Delawareans’ contributions to public education. Visit for more info, or to vote for your favorite candidates.

Congratulations to the 15 iEducate Delaware Finalists!

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We’re proud and excited to announce the finalists for iEducate Delaware 2014-15!

This is the third year of iEducate Delaware, an initiative we created to recognize a range of Delawareans who are thinking outside-of-the-box to help students.

These finalists were selected from over 200 public nominations and represent a diverse cross section of Delawareans from towns across our state. We believe that these finalists are truly inspiring, and hope their contributions inspire you, too.

They need your support! From these 15 finalists, five Honorees will be selected to receive a financial award and have their work promoted statewide and nationally. Learn more and submit your votes for your favorite finalists! Visit

The finalists are:

  • Erika Brown (Teacher of Dance and Fitness Education at Brandywine High School) encourages the benefits of the arts for student learning and personal growth.
  • Cheryl Clendaniel (Early Childhood Administrator for The Learning Center) advocates for the importance of early learning in her community and statewide.
  • Kathy Dulis (School Librarian and Media Specialist at Seaford Middle School) collaborates with other educators in her school and across the state on Common Core.
  • Karen Eller (Teacher at Bancroft Elementary School) utilizes technology to improve instruction, teacher collaboration, and student outcomes.
  • Shebra Hall (Community Initiatives Coordinator at Nemours BrightStart!) advocates for early learning and early literacy, emphasizing the need to focus on the whole child.
  • Equetta Jones (Teacher of Exceptional Children at Warner Elementary School) promotes family and community engagement, empowering parents to better support their children’s education.
  • Chandlee Kuhn (Chief Judge of the Family Court of Delaware) advocates and supports equitable educational opportunities for students in the juvenile justice system.
  • Lisa Mims (Fifth-Grade Teacher at Pleasantville Elementary School) utilizes technology and personalized instruction to encourage student ownership of learning.
  • Jesse Parsley (Special Education Math Teacher at Milford Central Academy) serves as a teacher-leader focused on Common Core.
  • Stan Spoor (Principal at Howard High School of Technology) promotes a school culture focused on preparing students for college and career experiences through initiatives such as piloting SPARC.
  • Rachael Staab (Director of Early Learning at EastSide Charter School) implements innovative teaching and family engagement practices, including Expeditionary Learning.
  • Gary Tabor (Sergeant and Street Supervisor for the Wilmington Department of Police) encourages early literacy in households, schools, and community centers.
  • Rachel Wagner (Student at Appoquinimink High School) exhibits student-leadership for the importance of career and technical education and experiences.
  • Sandra Williamson (Professor and the Chair of Instruction and Applied Technology at Wilmington University) connects educators and teachers-in-training to 21st century innovation and technology to personalize learning.
  • Orrin White (Youth Engagement Coordinator at United Way of Delaware) engages hundreds of youth in the City of Wilmington in a youth empowerment program.

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