TCPS Hires 18 Teachers and 1 Counselor for FY18 School Year

Photo: Front row: Christie Dugan, Maura Simonetti*, Shelly Armiger, Michelle Mackall, Samantha Martinez, Olivia Rossbach. Middle row: Shelby Swann*, Ashley Patrick, Damien Ransome, Kelley Van Trieste, Allen Dietrich, Jr., Katherine Archer, Cara Breeding (guidance), Gwynn Gibbons. Back row: John Strickland, Helen Riddle, Brandon Hynson, Kendra Thomas, Teresa Alison, Justin Beall, Dr. Kelly Griffith, Superintendent. *Hired during 2016-2017 school year.

Talbot County Public Schools welcomed 18 new teachers and one new guidance counselor for the 2017-2018 school year. The new hires, along with those who joined TPCS during the 2016-2017 school year, attended an orientation prior to the start of school, that culminated with a welcome luncheon at Easton High School. These new team members come from diverse backgrounds and levels of experience, and four of the new hires are TCPS Alumni.

Easton Middle School to Host University of Maryland’s Potomac Winds Woodwind Quintet

A summer-long collaborative effort has resulted in an ambitious new Artists-in-Residence Program featuring the University of Maryland’s Potomac Winds Woodwind Quintet at Easton Middle School during this academic year. The initiative involved representatives of the School of Music’s Office of Community Engagement at the University of Maryland and music teachers and staff in the Talbot County Public Schools, with coordination assistance from the Talbot County Arts Council and Easton-based Chesapeake Music, which sponsors the annual chamber music and jazz music festivals.

The quintet will make four two-day visits to EMS during this school year: October 4-5, December 6-7January 31-February 1, and March 7-8.  During these times, they will work closely with students and teachers to bridge the gap between the classroom knowledge of world history and the experiences of world music. Using a collaborative lesson plan, the quintet will work with students and music and social studies teachers to make creative connections between the core social studies curriculum and music. This year students in four sixth grade band classes will experience World History with World Music in an effort to show the importance of the arts in societies around the world.  Each visit will involve a 45- minute presentation by the quintet as well as class time to help develop a meaningful relationship between quintet members and the students they mentor. In addition, seventh and eighth grade band classes will receive master classes from the visiting artists.

Potomac Winds is a DC Metro Area-based ensemble comprised of graduate students from the UMD School of Music.  Members have performed in professional orchestras throughout the United States.  Their individual honors have included concerto competition finalists, debut recitals, orchestral soloists, and young artist awards.  Their mission is to establish the woodwind quintet as a virtuosic ensemble through engaging performances of the highest level of artistic expression, cultivating a sense of community with audience members, and collaboratively exploring works of all time periods and genres with particular emphasis on the art of contemporary composers.    The members of Potomac Winds are Ceylon Mitchell, flute; Sarah Balzer, oboe; Melissa Morales, clarinet; Avery Pettigrew, horn; and Jonathan Zepp, bassoon.

The project was initiated by members of the board of directors of the Talbot County Arts Council who were dismayed by the near total absence of young people attending Mid-Shore Area performances of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra, and Chesapeake Music.  A study group concluded that younger people might begin attending if they could be introduced to classical music in various appealing forms at the secondary school level.

The resulting project is a result of an organizational effort coordinated by a committee from the board of the Talbot County Arts Council, which brought together the School of Music of the University of Maryland, the music and social studies faculty of Easton Middle School, and Chesapeake Music.  Their objective is to provide the student body a rare opportunity to learn from the skill and experience of graduate-level musicians, to both inspire a lifelong love of classical music among the general student body and allow music students to benefit from the skill and enthusiasm of young professional-level musicians who are qualified as music teachers and who are participating as volunteers.

The University of Maryland portion of the initiative is being managed by Dr. Robert DiLutis, Professor of Clarinet and Director of the Community Engagement Office at the School of Music. Talbot County Public Schools has been involved through the encouragement of former fine arts supervisor Dr. Marcia Sprankle and her successor, James Redman. The EMS component is managed by band director Donna Ewing with the assistance of chorus director CJ Freeman and social studies teacher Christopher Renaud.  Chesapeake Music has been represented by executive director Donald Buxton and Hanna Woicke, chair of the YouthReach Committee.  Participating Arts Council board members are Nancy Larson and Bill Peak.   The program will be administered directly between Dr. DiLutis and Mrs. Ewing, and housing during the quintets overnight stays in Talbot County has been organized by Chesapeake Music president Courtney Kane.

If the pilot program proves successful, it is hoped funding will be found to continue the initiative in future years at Easton Middle School and possibly expand the project to include other local schools. The program is made possible by grant from the Artistic Insights Fund of the Mid-Shore Community Foundation, with funds from an Arts-in-Education grant from the Talbot County Arts Council, using revenues provided by the Maryland State Arts Council.

Talbot County Public Schools Releases Data from Maryland State Assessments (PARCC)

Dr. Kelly Griffith, Superintendent of Talbot County Public Schools, shared results of the 2017 Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessments at the September Board of Education meeting.  Data from the spring administration shows that the percentage of TCPS students scoring a level 3 or greater on PARCC increased in 5 out of 14 grade cohorts for English Language Arts (ELA) and math in comparison to the previous year, and the percentage of students scoring a level 4 or greater increased in 7 out of 14 grade cohorts during the same administrations.  In addition, TCPS students outperformed the State in the percentage of students scoring a level 3 or greater on PARCC in 10 out of 14 grade cohorts in ELA and math and outperformed the State in the percentage of students scoring a level 4 or greater in 7 out of 14 grade cohorts.

PARCC is administered for English/Language Arts and Mathematics to all Maryland Public School students in grade 3 through 8 and at the high school level for Algebra I and English 10. This was the first year students had to earn a passing score on the Algebra I and English 10 to meet graduation requirements.

The PARCC exams are considerably more rigorous than the Maryland School Assessment tests they replaced in 2015. The assessments are designed to measure students’ critical thinking and problem solving skills. While the scores on the PARCC Assessment are not being used for educator, school, or system-level accountability purposes at this time they do provide students, parents, and teachers a better idea of where students stand in regard to college and career readiness. The Individual Score Report students receive provides useful information to parents on how their child performed on the assessment as a whole, as well as, how they performed on specific skills.

“The PARCC results provide us with valuable information and support the implementation of our new Mathematics Curriculum for grades Pre-K through 8 and English Language Arts Curriculum in grades Pre-K through 5,” said Dr. Helga Einhorn, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction.  “These new resources will greatly benefit our students as they are more aligned with the rigor of the Maryland State Standards assessed on PARCC.” The new math curriculum builds on a progression of skills to foster students’ conceptual knowledge of mathematics so they are better able to apply learning to complex problems and real world applications. Instructional strategies introduce mathematical concepts concretely and through visual modeling with opportunities for student reflection to foster persistence in solving complex problems. The new Wonders reading series, funded through non-recurring costs by the Talbot County Council, includes online resources, leveled readers, intervention materials, and integrated assessments, all of which allow teachers to tailor instruction to student learning needs.

Additional information regarding state, county and local school PARCC data are available on the Maryland State Department of Education’s website,

Washington College Among Top Liberal Arts Colleges in America!


Statue of George Washington on Washington College campus in front of Middle Hall.

Washington College continues its upward progress in U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges rankings, with today’s announcement that the College is 96th among liberal arts colleges across the nation in the 2018 report. This is showing a continuing positive trend, from 99th last year, 100th in 2016, and 105th in 2015.

On an overall score out of 100, Washington College bumped up from 54 to 56, reflecting factors including the College’s three-year average for retention, which went from 83 percent to 84 percent, increasing selectivity of applicants with an acceptance rate change of 54 to 49 percent, and a peer assessment score—based on surveys sent to peer institutions—that improved by a tenth of a point. Alumni giving also increased from 17 to 19 percent over a three-year average.

As previously, the College continued to be well represented in the “A+ Schools for B Students” category—“where spirit and hard work could make all the difference to the admissions office,” as the listing says.

“I am very proud that we are on this list, and that we continue to improve our U.S. News Best Colleges rankings,” says College President Kurt Landgraf. “It shows how hard we as a College have worked across the board to provide our students with terrific opportunities and a liberal arts education among the best in the nation.”

The CAC – Casey Academic Center on Washington College campus

In the U.S. News and World Report Best Colleges rankings, 77.5 percent of a school’s ranking in “is based on a formula that uses objective measures of academic quality, such as graduation rates, faculty information, and admissions data,” the report says. “The remaining 22.5 percent is based on academic reputation, determined by a peer assessment from top academics at colleges; in the National Universities and National Liberal Arts Colleges categories, ratings from high school counselors are also factored in.”

For more information on Washington College, visit their website.

EHS Students Join Others from Maryland at Classical League Convention

Easton High School students and recent graduates attended the 64th National Junior Classical League Convention at Troy University in Alabama, along with 1700 other Latin students from around the nation. The convention, which took place at the end of July, includes groups of students from all across the country coming together to celebrate the classic languages of Latin and Greek with contests, competitions, lectures, and other activities throughout the week. A total 21 students represented Maryland and made their mark in Alabama. The Maryland “novice” team placed 10th in the country in Competitive Certamen, a game of fast recall of facts about classical civilizations and its peoples, languages, and cultures.Several Maryland students placed nationally in events such as academic testing, essay writing, escape rooms, spirit competitions, talent shows, art contests, and sports.

Easton High Latin Students don togas to represent our region at the 64th National Junior Classical League Convention at Troy University in Alabama.

Each year, students who attend the convention come home not only with their impressive prizes, but with a higher understanding and love for the classics and new friends from all around the state and across the country.  “I strongly believe that what made Nationals special this year was the friends that I made,” said Natasha Panduawawala, the Maryland Junior Classical League President. “I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to bond with and create a whole new family,” added Kaitlyn Tilley, a rising senior at Easton High.

Studying the classics can be very challenging, so it’s wonderful when hard-working students are able to expand their knowledge and understanding in a favorite subject over the summer. This opportunity is enhanced by being exposed to life on a college campus and gaining experience in leadership and teamwork in a friendly, positive environment.

Nice! Talbot’s Katie Fox Is Maryland Teacher Of The Year Finalist

Each year, the Maryland Department of Education Teacher of the Year Panel selects seven teachers from counties across the State as finalists for Maryland Teacher of the Year. Talbot County Public Schools is very pleased and extremely proud to announce that TCPS Teacher of the Year, Mrs. Katie Fox, has been named as a State Finalist.

Mrs. Fox has taught Kindergarten at Tilghman Elementary School since 2008. She holds a B.A. in Elementary Education from the University of Michigan (2002), Early Childhood Teacher Education Certification from the University of Puget Sound, and an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Reading from Grand Canyon University (2005). Her prior teaching experience includes teaching first Grade at Chesapeake Academy in Arnold, MD, and third grade, kindergarten and pre-kindergarten at St. John School in Seattle, WA.

Superintendent Kelly Griffith, Board of Education Members Sandy Kleppinger and Susie Hayward, along with Teacher of the Year Supervisor James Redman pay a surprise visit to Tilghman Elementary School this morning to announce that Talbot County Teacher of the Year Katie Fox is one of seven finalists for Maryland Teacher of the Year

It is extremely gratifying to see one of our exceptional teachers receive such well-deserved recognition,” said Dr. Kelly Griffith, TCPS Superintendent. “Katie is a highly motivated and committed educator who is truly dedicated to making a difference in the lives of the children in Talbot County. We are absolutely thrilled for her and very proud of this accomplishment.”

Fox holds many leadership roles in addition to her responsibilities in the classroom. She serves as Teacher Mentor, she is on the Gifted and Talented Advisory Committee, and the Courageous Conversations – CARE Team and Equity Team. She also leads the Primary Talent Development Team and is a member of the School Improvement Team. She is very active as a community volunteer, serving on the Board of Directors of the Tilghman Area Youth Association, as a Tilghman After School Club – Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) teacher, an Imagination Library Liaison, a CarePacks of Talbot County Volunteer, and a member of the Mid-shore Reading Council.

Mrs. Fox has received numerous awards for her work including a Northrop Grumman STEM Grant, Bartlett Pear Teacher of the Month, MSDE Teacher as Leader in Gifted and Talented Education and was the first teacher in Talbot County to be recognized through the Talbot County Education Foundation Honor A Teacher program. She lives in Easton with her husband, Nicholas and three children.

The Maryland Teacher of the Year will be announced at the annual gala in Baltimore on October 27.


New Gunston Students Arrive by Boat

On Tuesday, September 5, Gunston held its annual Embarkation ceremony. As a 107-year old school, Gunston has many traditions, but few are as meaningful as Embarkation—all new students and faculty arrive on their first day to campus by boat. Gunston’s sixty-four new students and seven new faculty and staff members departed from the Centreville Wharf, traveled down the Corsica River, and arrived at the school’s waterfront, where they were greeted by the school’s Headmaster, Mr. John Lewis. After shaking the Headmaster’s hand, each student signed the school’s honor code—Responsibilities of the Community, then climbed the stairs of the embankment and proceeded to shake the hand of every member of the student body, faculty and administration. “This ceremony is meaningful and symbolic” commented Lewis, “as it celebrates our unique connection to the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and also celebrates our strong sense of community.” Many of Gunston’s new parents were on hand to witness the event.

This year, Gunston—a co-educational college preparatory high school–is opening at a historically high enrollment of 195, and welcomes new students from Queen Anne’s, Kent, Talbot, Cecil, Caroline, and Anne Arundel counties, as well as Delaware. Gunston also welcomes a number of students from overseas, with students arriving this year from Switzerland, Japan, and China. Lewis said, “We’re excited to be welcoming such a large and talented class of new students, and with our largest enrollment, we are looking forward to a great year.”

Starr Center’s Goodheart Earns National Endowment for the Humanities Award

Adam Goodheart works in the Library of Congress on his new book, 1865: The Rebirth of a Nation.

Adam Goodheart, director of Washington College’s Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, has earned a prestigious Public Scholar Award from the National Endowment for the Humanities to research and write the sequel to his best-selling 1861: The Civil War Awakening.

The NEH grant, in the words of its mission statement, supports “scholarship that will be of broad interest and have lasting impact.” It rewards writers who can bridge the gap between academia and popular nonfiction to shed light on a broad range of topics: from diabetes and species extinction to the French Revolution and—in Goodheart’s case—the Civil War. Scholars must have already published a major book to apply, and the acceptance rate is slender, only about 5 percent.

Goodheart, whose 1861: The Civil War Awakening was a New York Times bestseller, is working on its sequel, 1865: The Rebirth of a Nation. He is returning to the same deeply researched narrative techniques for which the Times praised 1861, saying, “Goodheart excels at creating emotional empathy with his characters, encouraging us to experience the crisis as they did, in real time, without the benefit of historical hindsight. He lets the players speak for themselves and make the best case for their own motives and beliefs.”

1861 was also a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in history, and the audiobook, published by Audible, won the Audie Award in history. President Barack Obama invited Goodheart to an Oval Office ceremony to recognize his role in having Fort Monroe, where part of 1861 is set, declared a National Monument.

“As with 1861, I’m working to evoke the lived experience of a moment in history, through vivid depictions of individual people and places,” Goodheart says. “Doing it successfully requires immersing myself in the primary sources, which is something I love to do. For instance, a few weeks ago I was at the National Archives, delving into the thousands of letters that families wrote to the federal government seeking information on loved ones who hadn’t come back from the Civil War. Reading some of them was an emotional experience, even 150 years later. Those little known but powerful human stories interest me more than troop movements and battle strategies.”

Goodheart has been able to take a part-time leave from his Starr Center duties to pursue the research and perform the writing. The book is to be published in hardcover by Alfred A. Knopf and as a Vintage paperback.

“I’m honored to be supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities,” Goodheart says, adding that he hopes Congress will continue to fund the NEH and its sister institution, the National Endowment for the Arts, both of which are zeroed out in President Donald Trump’s proposed budget. “If he succeeds,” Goodheart says, “it will be a disaster for the intellectual and cultural life of our country.”



TCPS Announces New Administrative Appointments

James Redman

Talbot County Public Schools has announced several administrative changes.

James Redman, Principal of Easton Elementary School – Moton will move to the Talbot County Education Center to become Curriculum Supervisor for Title I, Family Involvement, Fine Arts, Teacher of the Year and New Teachers.  Redman will be replaced at Easton Elementary by Sherry Bowen, who was Principal at White Marsh Elementary. TCPS welcomes Kimberly Seidel, who comes from Queen Anne’s County Public Schools as Principal at White Marsh.

Mr. Redman has a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and Special Education from Edinboro University of PA and a Master of Education in Curriculum & Instruction and School Administration from Western Maryland College (McDaniel).

Redman taught 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th grades in both Erie, PA and Stevensville, MD.  He was assistant principal at EES-Moton from 2001-2004, and at EES-Dobson from 2005-2008. Mr. Redman has served as principal for the past 9 years at Saint Michaels Elementary School, Easton Elementary School Campus, and Easton Elementary School – Moton.

Sherry Bowen

Mr. Redman serves on the Board of Directors of the Critchlow Adkins Children’s Centers and the Executive Board of the Mid-Shore Regional Economic Development Council.  He is a founding board member of the Chesapeake Multi-Cultural Resource Center and currently serves on their after-school program board.  He is a founding member of BAAM, Inc. and is a past board member of Talbot County Arts Council.

Mrs. Bowen is a graduate of Easton High School, and has a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and a Master of Education in Educational Leadership, both from Salisbury University.  She has worked for Talbot County Public Schools for 13 years.  She taught at Chapel District Elementary from 2003 – 2008.  She then moved to the Talbot County Education Center and served as Special Education Transition Facilitator from 2008 – 2010.  She was appointed Assistant Principal at Easton High School in 2010, and was Assistant Principal at Easton Elementary – Moton from 2013 – 2016.  She served as Principal at White Marsh Elementary for the 2016 – 2017 school year. She is a member of Royal Oak United Methodist Church, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, and Kappa Delta Pi-International Honor Society in Education, and she is a volunteer for the Waterfowl Festival.

Kimberly Seidel

Mrs. Seidel earned a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Slippery Rock University, and a Masters of Education with a concentration in Early Childhood and Special Education also from Slippery Rock.  She is a National Board Certified Early Childhood Teacher, holds Administrator I & II Certificates as well as Advanced Professional Certification from MSDE.

Mrs. Seidel began her career as a Kindergarten teacher in 1993 in Queen Anne’s County.  She also taught 2nd grade, and served as a special education teacher and an early intervention specialist before working as a Teacher Specialist from 2002 – 2004. Seidel became an Assistant Principal for Prince George’s County Public Schools in 2004. In 2007, she was appointed to the position of Principal, and served PG County in that role at several elementary schools through 2016.  In the fall of 2016 she returned to Queen Anne’s County to serve as Principal of Sudlersville Elementary School.She has extensive experience in Title I schools, has been selected to represent her county at the local, state and national level, and has received recognition for outstanding performance throughout her career.

“The Talbot County Public School system is truly grateful for the dedication and passion that each of these leaders bring to their new roles within the organization,” said Superintendent Kelly Griffith.  “I am looking forward to a fantastic school year!”

Why is George Smiling?

Don’t Worry.  We’re Happy! Say Washington College students.

The Princeton Review ranks Washington College among the top twenty schools in the nation with the happiest undergraduates.

According to The Princeton Review, Washington College is among the nation’s very best institutions for undergraduate education, but its distinctive approach to mentoring students has propelled the college to the top of the chart that measures the happiness factor. Washington College is ranked 16th in the nation for Student Happiness, as noted in the 2018 edition of The Best 382 Colleges released Aug. 1.

Only about 15 percent of America’s 2,500 four-year colleges and two colleges outside the U.S. are profiled in the book, which is one of The Princeton Review’s most popular guides. Published annually since 1992, it has detailed profiles of the colleges with rating scores in eight categories. The book also has ranking lists of top 20 schools in 62 categories, including the Happiest Students category. The Princeton Review’s results are valuable since they are based on surveys of actual students attending the colleges.

Happy WC students on the deck of the Literary House during the 2017 Cherry Tree Young Writers’ Conference.

“I’m delighted to see Washington College featured in The Princeton Review as one of the best 382 colleges for 2018,” said college President Kurt Landgraf. “Washington College is all about the students, and I am proud to know that our high ‘Student Happiness’ ranking reflects that student-centric focus. This cornerstone of who we are and what we do results in memorable experiences that have a positive impact on students’ personal and professional lives.”

In its profile on Washington College, The Princeton Review praises the college for its “truly personalized education,” and quotes extensively from Washington College students. Among their comments: “Living at Washington College is as good as a college experience can get.”

What a smile! Intern Hebs Guerra-Recinos expresses his approval!

“We chose Washington College for this book because it offers outstanding academics,” said Robert Franek, Princeton Review’s editor-in-chief and author of The Best 382 Colleges. “Our selections are primarily based on our surveys of administrators at several hundred four-year colleges. We also visit dozens of colleges each year and give considerable weight to opinions of our staff and our 24-member National College Counselor Advisory Board. Most importantly, we look at the valuable feedback we get from each school’s customers—our surveys of students attending them. We also keep a wide representation of colleges in the book by region, size, selectivity, and character.”

The Princeton Review does not rank the colleges from 1 to 382 in any category. Instead, it uses students’ ratings of their schools to compile 62 ranking lists of top 20 colleges in the book in various categories. The lists in this edition are entirely based on The Princeton Review’s survey of 137,000 students (358 per campus on average) attending the colleges. The 80-question survey asks students to rate their schools on several topics and report on their campus experiences at them. Topics range from their assessments of their professors as teachers to opinions about their school’s career services. The Princeton Review explains the basis for each ranking list here.

Other “Happy Schools” include Rice University, College of William and Mary, Colby College, and Vanderbilt.  The University of California at Santa Barbara is also in top twenty happy schools but they’re practically on the beach so, of course, they’re happy.  St. John’s in Annapolis also made the list.