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10 Education Stories to Watch in 2018

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Every new year brings with it a sense of transition and opportunity—a chance for a fresh start or reinvention. Between midterm elections, nail-biting budget negotiations, and big issues unfolding in Wilmington and beyond—2018 could shake up the world of public education. The team at Rodel has examined the tea leaves and compiled its 10 Delaware education issues to watch in 2018.

[Read: Bold action, not alarmism, will fix Delaware’s budget; Status quo will further hasten Delaware’s economic demise]

  • ESSA and School Report Cards
    With Delaware’s state Every Student Succeeds Act plan finished and filed, the focus now shifts to the legislation’s hotly debated report card mandate. The design of the report cards—which are meant to equip families with information about school performance—will come under scrutiny between now and June 2018, during which DDOE will host a series of community engagement activities. Community members will help decide what information should be in the report card, and the best ways to present that information.

[Read: Why Carney’s administration should stay the course on school report cards]

  • The Rise of Work-Based Learning
    Delaware Pathways has been one of the runaway success stories of the past few years, with more than 9,000 students enrolled and earning valuable career acumen, college credits, industry credentials, and more. The next big chapter: Work-based learning. Delaware Technical Community College tapped former Family Court Judge Chandlee Kuhn to head its new Office of Work-Based Learning, which is tasked with facilitating connections with school and college personnel, and building partnerships with business and industry to create more opportunities for students. In December, Gov. Carney convened a roundtable discussion to energize some of Delaware’s most prominent employers around the expansion of work-based learning. The goal? Engage 20,000 youth in career pathways in high-demand fields, and support over 7,000 youth to gain work-based learning experience in high-demand fields by 2020.

[Read: Businesses and schools can work together]

  • English Learners
    You may have heard: Delaware’s EL student population is on the rise in a big way. Over the last decade, we’ve seen a statewide increase of over 400 percent in the number of English learner students—including nearly 600-percent growth in Sussex County. While these primarily native-born Americans, who collectively speak nearly 100 native languages, are just like your average student—they often face language barriers or unique social and emotional challenges that create barriers to higher education and eventual careers. With Delaware’s outdated school funding system standing in the way (we’re only four states that doesn’t provide additional education funding for English learners), advocates are clamoring for awareness and change.On a similar note, the fate of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) legislation hangs in the balance. There are around 4,000 eligible young people in Delaware—many of whom found their way to Delaware State University—must wait as well.

[Read: English-learning students need our help; Delaware State University: A Haven for Dreamers]

  • Wilmington Schools
    The much-talked-about MOU between the Christina School District and Gov. John Carney’s office is still awaiting a vote from Christina school board. But it could have huge implications for the district, its staff, and its families. Proposed changes range from larger salaries for teachers, renovations to Bancroft Elementary and Bayard Middle schools, funding to reduce class sizes, and funding for students living in poverty or learning English as a second language.

[Read: Can the divides over Wilmington schools ever be bridged?; Carney leads delegation to Massachusetts ‘model’ school]

  • Student- and Teacher-Driven Changes
    As teachers take a more active role in policy conversations—including helping to shape the state’s ESSA plan—and as students become more empowered to control their learning, it’s safe to say we can anticipate more influence from the people inside the classroom. “If we listen to students, it will drive changes in how we deliver instruction, provide feedback, and ‘give credit’ for coursework,” says Robyn Howton, a longtime member of the Rodel Teacher Council. As technology fuels more ownership and creativity in the classroom, the demand for more robust broadband connectivity also rises.

[Read: Student Centered Learning Structures]

  • Deepening Social and Emotional Learning
    Could we see a big transition year for social and emotional learning as it moves from buzzy concept to classroom implementation, standards, and policy? Some educators, including members of the Rodel Teacher Council, think so. In a survey, more than nine out of 10 educators say explicitly adopting state standards for social and emotional skills—combined with training—would help provide deeper guidance and legitimacy. And, according to Supporting Postsecondary Success in Delaware: A Landscape Analysis of Student Opportunities, while many community-based organizations offer SEL services, young people may have difficulty finding the right ones, or navigating different options. A common framework and strategy for collaborative messaging and distribution of services, the report argues, could help community-based organizations and their partner schools achieve greater impact. What’s next for SEL in Delaware?

[Read: Make social and emotional learning a priority]

  • Supporting Students In Need
    Local civil rights groups hit state leaders last week with a lawsuit over Delaware’s antiquated funding system, claiming it provides more support for children who are well off than it provides for children living in poverty and English learners. Many advocates—from the Education Equity Delaware coalition to the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission—have urged for such a change in recent years. Elsewhere members of the early learning community are pushing for a $5.9 million door-opener that was recommended by the Delaware Department of Education to support tiered reimbursements for new early learning programs entering the Stars quality rating program this fiscal year (on top of existing ones trying to move up). Many priorities should make for some drama during budget markup later this spring.

[Read: Civil rights groups sue Delaware over education funding for low-income, disadvantaged students; Early Learning is a Better Investment than the Stock Market]

  • Investing in Two-Generation StrategiesAn idea on-the-rise from family health advocates that’s gaining traction, two-generation approaches focus on creating opportunities for and addressing needs of both children and the adults in their lives together, recognizing that families and their challenges come in all different shapes and sizes. In Delaware this is manifesting through increased focus on home visits by organizations like Early Head Start, Healthy Families America, Nurse-Family Partnership, and Parents as Teachers. It’s also a part of the plan for Gov. Carney’s Family Services Cabinet Council, which will collaborate with a Christina School District team to create and implement a two-generation center, designed to provide supports to early learners and their parents.

[Read: Confidential plan calls for consolidating Wilmington schools down to two]

  • Local Elections
    2018 will be a pivotal year nationwide for midterm elections. And in Delaware, as much as 20 percent of the General Assembly may turn over come September, including some key leadership positions.

[Read: Candidates line up to replace Sen. Margaret Rose Henry; Dover’s Sen. Brian Bushweller will not seek re-election; party majority at risk]

Teacher Newsletter – December 2017

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December 2017

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Teacher Tweets, Wins Drones For Her Classroom

A classroom in New Castle has been transformed into a bustling runway for programmable drones this fall, all thanks to a single tweet.

“It can do a flip! Watch!” fifth-grader Justin Dorce said excitedly, using an iPad to control one of the eight drones Pleasantville Elementary School teacher and Rodel Teacher Council member, Lisa Mims, recently won the class in an internet sweepstake.

All she had to do was retweet a post by technology company Parrot Education, which makes and sells unmanned aerial and ground vehicles to schools and educators. Read more in The News Journal.
Submit Your Education Story Ideas To The News Journal

Save The Date

Supporting Postsecondary Success: Discussion and Action Planning (Dec. 11, New Castle)
The Rodel Foundation of Delaware, United Way of Delaware, Delaware Department of Education, Delaware Community Foundation, and Delaware Business Roundtable Education Committee will present the results of a statewide landscape analysis of in-school and out-of-school postsecondary resources.

Delaware Readiness Teams Celebration (Dec. 13, Dover)
The Delaware Readiness Teams invite you to celebrate five years of program successes with Governor John Carney, Readiness Team members, and community partners. Learn about a new kindergarten registration campaign, meet with members of local Readiness Teams, and find ways to get involved.

The Summit on Professional Learning Communities at Work (Feb. 20-22, Arizona)
This unique event brings the PLC at Work champions together with some of the brightest, most respected minds in education. Whether you are just beginning to build a PLC or need to regroup for your next steps, this summit provides practical knowledge based on the three big ideas that drive a PLC, delivered by experts who know the process best.

2018 Delaware STEM Symposium & Educator Awards (May 10, Dover)
The Delaware STEM Educator Award recognizes a teacher or team of teachers at the elementary, middle, and high school levels who demonstrate STEM innovation and excellence through teaching, academic collaboration, and student engagement. A total of three unrestricted cash awards up to $7,500.00 will be given to winning teachers or teams.


The Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Semester Program (Deadline: Dec. 13)
The Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Semester Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and is administered by the Institute of International Education. It seeks to promote mutual understanding among teachers, their schools and communities in the U.S. and abroad by building teachers’ and students’ global competence and sharing of best educational practices internationally.

Technology Teacher Grant (Deadline: Dec. 9)
Technology is all around us. From smartphones to voice assistants and self-driving cars, our world is becoming increasingly high-tech. We believe technology has a place in every discipline—and studying its role in our lives is critical for students of all ages. Share your tech-focused lesson plan and you could win up to $1,000 for classroom supplies, educational subscriptions and apps for your students, and more.

Teach Earth Fellowship (Deadline: Jan. 8)
Investing in science and environmental education is paramount if we hope to empower future generations and provide them with the tools needed to combat the greatest environmental challenges the world has faced. Teach Earth offers teachers the opportunity to experience scientific research first-hand, providing you with the tools to make science come alive in your classroom.

TranspARTation Grants (Ongoing)
The TranspARTation Grant supports travel costs to Delaware arts and cultural institutions and venues so that students may attend events, performances, and exhibits that have high-quality arts components. TranspARTation applications are accepted on an ongoing basis but must be received at least six weeks prior to the field trip date.

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Reflections from “Principal for a Day 2017″

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Madeleine Bayard, Vice President of Policy and Practice
Principal: Hekima Wicker
Harlan Elementary School
Brandywine School District

My day at Harlan Elementary School reminded me of the many hats principals wear. One minute Principal Wicker was speaking with students about their needs—ranging from behavioral challenges to the need for an umbrella— and the next he was navigating through operational challenges such as not having enough substitutes, mitigating discipline issues, and more. And through it all, he stayed calm and positive!

Throughout the day, I learned that more than 40 percent of the school’s incoming kindergartners have no early learning experience in a care/educational setting before they get to Harlan. The fifth grade teachers I spoke with agree that we need to do more, earlier, for these students.

I found this particularly noteworthy because the state Early Learner Survey results revealed that, depending on the location, about 30 to 50 percent of entering kindergarteners are not prepared. This reinforces the need to educate families about how they can support their young children and the quality early learning options available to them.

Principal For A Day is always inspiring—seeing the potential and energy of kids and the hard work of educators—and an important reality check for those of us who are not in the classroom every day. Hats off to Principal Wicker and the team for all they are doing.

Paul Herdman, President and CEO
Principal: Julie Giangiulio
East Dover Elementary
Capital School District

My day began with welcoming students during bus drop-off. Principal Giangiulio then took me on a tour of the school and the day ended with a Leader in Me training with other principals.

The Leader in Me program is a strategy tied to the school’s positive behavior support program. I was impressed with how the entire faculty and student body embodied the core ideas embedded in The Leader in Me program. As we walked through the hallways and classrooms, I noticed signage and other visual cues linked to the strategy, such as the Seven Habits of Happy Kids and Wildly Important Goals (WIGs). From the school nurse who posted a WIG about reducing health issues to a student who focused on becoming a soccer star and completing 980 pushups, the Leader In Me program was a through line. The presence of the Leader in Me program and affirmations linked to the strategy truly represents Principal Giangiulio and the schools’ focus on social emotional learning and the whole child.

As parents, Principal Giangiulio and I had a good discussion on the social and emotional challenges that arise everyday in our own homes and at East Dover Elementary. The school has a high percentage of students that need intensive care and they deal with a range of issues (mental health, family challenges, etc.) among the student population. These factors also influence the staff. This day reminded me that we should provide support for educators and school leaders, like Principal Giangiulio, to solve these challenge.

My Principal For A Day experience was also a reminder of the complexity and importance of a principal and their team. I send out a heartfelt thank you to Principal Julie Giangiulio and East Dover Elementary for their collective commitment to our children.

Laurie Jacobs, Communications Associate
Principal: Clifton Hayes
Delcastle Technical High School
New Castle County Vocational Technical School District

My experience at Delcastle was one for the books. Principal Hayes took me on a tour of the career classrooms (carpentry, dental, etc.) in the morning, then we traveled to Barclays Bank to witness students learn from Barclay employees the importance of financial planning. The day ended with a tour of the academic classrooms. As I reflected on my experience at Delcastle, two things came to mind.

1) Environment and Culture. Everyone at Delcastle—from the students to the staff—was extremely welcoming and eager to share. It was obvious to see of effects of their culture and environment by the number of alumni that I was able to meet. I met an alum who returned to talk about their experience joining the military after graduation, an alum who returned to check in on their former teachers, and an alum who returned to seek help with their college curriculum. Delcastle is certainly a place you want to return to. I was there for a day and am already ready to go back.

2) Careful Consideration. I appreciated the staff’s careful consideration when it came to ensuring every student is prepared and has opportunities after graduation—whether it is college, career, or both. While I toured the classrooms, I frequently heard the phrase “these are the tools or skills that are being used in the field.” I was able to confirm this while visiting the digital communications classrooms where I noticed tools that I use on a daily basis. On the other hand, I also witnessed the school’s leadership wrestle with the right balance of college and career representation for the upcoming college and career week celebration.

As a graduate of a “traditional” high school, I looked forward to visiting a vo-tech high school and was not disappointed.

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