Avon-Dixon Insurance Supports TCPS Education Foundation

Avon-Dixon Insurance Agency, a member of Shore Bancshares community of companies, donated $2,540 to the Talbot County Public Schools Education Foundation. The money donated was raised through “casual days” at Avon-Dixon Agency. Employees contribute money each week to dress casual on Friday. At the end of the year, employees offer suggestions on which organization or charity they would like to donate the funds to and a vote is held to select a recipient of the donated funds. The Avon-Dixon Agency has held this tradition for over 25 years.

Pictured L-R: Richard Marks, TCPS Education Foundation Advisory Board; Rich Trippe, President & CEO of Avon-Dixon; Kelly Griffith, Superintendent of Talbot County Public Schools; David Short, TCPS Education Foundation Advisory Board; Rebecca Firth, TCPS Education Foundation Advisory Board.

The Talbot County Public Schools Education Foundation was established in 2016, in partnership with the Mid-Shore Community Foundation. Its mission is “to engage and utilize community resources to provide Talbot County Public Schools students and teachers with otherwise unavailable enrichment opportunities that will enhance the TCPS educational experience and produce exceptional graduates.” Accomplishments to date include, conducting “Year-End Appeal” at the end of 2016 and 2017, forming committees, launching the Honor a Teacher program, and developing a grant application process.

To learn more about supporting the Talbot County Public Schools Education Foundation, contact Debbie Gardner, Coordinator of Public Relations and Special Programs at dgardner@talbotschools.org.

For more information about Avon-Dixon Insurance Agency, visit avondixon.com.

Washington College is Helping MSCFV Better Target Its Mission

A collaboration among a Washington College sociology professor, the College’s GIS Lab, and the Mid-Shore Council on Family Violence (MSCFV) is helping provide resources to women in crisis and creating strategies to reach more victims in the community.

Rachel Durso, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Black Studies at Washington College, teamed up with Jeanne Yeager, Executive Director of MSCFV, and Erica McMaster, Director of the GIS program, along with four GIS student interns and an analyst, to use the power of data collection and analysis to help the MSCFV in its mission. Their collaboration supported a $1 million Victims of Crime Act grant intended to enhance services such as crisis intervention, counseling, emergency transportation to court, temporary housing, criminal justice support, and advocacy.

Durso, a criminologist who had previously examined gender violence as a doctoral student at Ohio State University, was drawn into the project through the College’s GIS program and her meetings with Yeager.

“I was really impressed by MSCFV’s mission and the fact that [a single office] served the five rural counties of Kent, Caroline, Dorchester, Talbot, and Queen Anne’s counties. It seemed like something I could do to use my expertise to make a real difference in our community,” Durso says. “You can imagine that if somebody needs help and she lives in an isolated area of Dorchester County, it’s really difficult to receive services.”

Last summer, Durso interviewed MSCFV clients to collect data sources that could inform the non-profit’s strategies to increase access to services. Accompanied by her research assistant, WC senior Kaitlynn Ecker, Durso spoke with survivors of domestic violence, both English- and Spanish-speaking, to better understand their needs.

“I would read through the interviews and identify the themes that kept coming up,” Durso says. Framing those recurring themes—poverty, transportation, communication—were the concepts of social cohesion and isolation. Durso found that, for victims of domestic violence, living in a rural community “where everyone knows your business” can put them at a disadvantage.

“In a lot of criminological literature, we see the idea that living in a small town can deter crime,” Durso notes. “If a neighborhood is tightly bonded, you can expect that people watch out for each other. But what has not been thoroughly explored is the idea that social cohesion is not great for [victims of] domestic violence. Because domestic violence is often seen as a private, even shameful matter, it can prevent people from seeking help.”

Durso’s interviews revealed how important social media can be for women physically secluded from the outside world by helping them communicate with others who have had similar experiences. GIS responded by mapping broadband Internet access, 4G mobile data networks, Internet pricing, and what types of Internet services are available in areas that MSCFV serves. Durso also began looking at MSCFV’s web and social media presence, running analytics to determine how to expand the agency’s visibility and engagement within the community.

Also, by mapping where MSCFV clients were coming from, Durso and the GIS team were able to generate a macro view of what’s going on in the region and make the case to open an additional office in Cambridge.

With more data on social cohesion and isolation, social media, access to resources, and particular barriers to resources, MSCFV can better understand where they need to target resources, and where other grant money might be directed. One of Durso’s recommendations to MSCFV was to hire a social media director. As a result, MSCFV hired a consultant who has created a social media policy and posting schedule, and is working on revitalizing MSCFV’s platforms.

The interviews informed what other resources could be mapped: hospitals, rehab centers, public transportation, daycare providers, police jurisdictions, public libraries with computers, and access to affordable housing, as well as MSCFV’s clients themselves.

“The partnership with Washington College, through Professor Durso and the GIS team, has helped the agency grow and expand in ways that directly respond to the specific needs of rural victims of domestic violence,” says Yeager. “It has been a tremendous experience for MSCFV.”

Beyond collecting and analyzing the data to inform policy, Durso says the project offered something just as important: validation to battered women who have silently borne horrific cruelty. “When we asked our clients what MSCFV service they are most grateful for, a great majority said they appreciated the chance to tell their stories. For many, it was the first time they had shared their story. Someone believed them.”

About Washington College

Founded in 1782, Washington College is the tenth oldest college in the nation and the first chartered under the new Republic. It enrolls approximately 1,450 undergraduates from more than 35 states and a dozen nations. With an emphasis on hands-on, experiential learning in the arts and sciences, and more than 40 multidisciplinary areas of study, the College is home to nationally recognized academic centers in the environment, history, and writing. Learn more at washcoll.edu.

ECAS High School Choral Competition to Highlight ECAS 40th Anniversary

On Saturday, March 3, 2018, in an inaugural event, eight high school choral ensembles will compete onstage at the Easton High School Auditorium for a total of $5,000.00 in prize monies. The ensemble that is judged the best based on their performance that day will receive a check for $2,500.00, second place $1,500.00 and third place $1,000.00. Donations from generous supporters of the Easton Choral Arts Society and grants from the Mid-Shore Foundation and Talbot County Arts Council are making this competition possible. Wes Lockfaw is the Artistic Director of ECAS.

The competition will begin at 1PM with the performance of the first choral group. The final chorus will perform at 3:30 PM. Tickets will be sold at the door for $10 or online at www.eastonchoralarts.org. There is no charge for students. Prize monies must be used for the winning schools’ choral music departments.

The eight high schools that will be performing are, in alphabetical order: Arundel High School, Anne Arundel County; Bel Air High School, Harford County; Easton High School, Talbot County; Edgewood High School, Harford County; Kent Island High School, Queen Anne’s County; Liberty High School, Carroll County; The Bryn Mawr School, Baltimore City; and Tower Hill School, New Castle County (DE). More than 226 students will be competing.

Judges for the March 3 competition will be Dr. William M. Folger, Dr. Devonna B. Rowe, and Dr. James Wilson. Dr. Folger is an Associate Professor and Director of Choral Activities at Salisbury University. Dr. Rowe is currently on the music faculty in the Department of Fine Arts at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Dr. Wilson is an Associate Professor of Music, Chair of Music &The Arts, and Director of Choirs at Wesley College, Dover.

As competition coordinator Carolyn Harrison explained:“Developing this competition has been a journey. The journey began with a much narrower scope than what rapidly developed over the course of last spring. As we approach our destination I am pleased with what ECAS has created. It will be a wonderful showcase for the high school ensembles that will take to the Easton High School stage competing for significant monies that will further their choral programs.”

Easton Choral Arts Society choristers are excited about the competition, responding with enthusiasm to the committee’s request for assistance. From offering to donate baked goods, to reaching out for competition booklet ads, to signing up to lend their physical support at Easton High School on March 3, the singers are being highly supportive.

For further information regarding the Choral Competition, please contact the ECAS Choral Competition Administrator and Chair, Carolyn Harrison, at:  ecaschoralcompadm@gmail.com

15 Students Receive Fall Athletics Awards at The Country School

The entire Country School community came together this morning to celebrate wins, acknowledge losses, and recognize the contributions of 15 basketball players to their respective teams.

Front row from left: Brielle Tyler, McKenna Duncan, Caroline Nagel, Billy Hunter, Paget Kellogg, Mekonnen Sahle-Salassi, Alex Urqhart, Jack Dukehart; Back row from left: Isabella Tylor, Sydney Johnson, Joanna Riley, Chillian Cuthbert-Emon, Tierney Smith, Ahmed Ezzaki, Nick Oxnam

Boys Gold Team
Most valuable player: Jack Dukehart
Most improved player: Alex Urqhart
Cougar Award for sportsmanship: Chillian Cuthbert-Emon

Boys Black Team
Most valuable player: Mekonnen Sahle-Salassi
Most improved player: Paget Kellogg
Cougar Award for sportsmanship: Billy Hunter

Boys A Team
Most valuable player: Ahmed Ezzaki
Most improved player: Tierney Smith
Cougar Award for sportsmanship: Nick Oxnam

Girls A Team
Most valuable player: McKenna Duncan
Most improved player: Caroline Nagel
Cougar Award for sportsmanship: Brielle Tyler

Girls B Team
Most valuable player: Joanna Riley
Most improved player: Isabella Taylor
Cougar Award for sportsmanship: Sydney Johnson

Gunston School Musicians Qualify for District and State Choruses

Clockwise: Jimmy Zhou, Davy Song, Cynthia Yang, Karen Chen (Not pictured: Nina De Angelo)

Congratulations to Gunston students Karen Chen, Nina De Angelo, Davy Song, Cynthia Yang, and Jimmy Zhao, who prepared, auditioned, and recently qualified for the 2018 All Shore Chorus. In addition, Davy Song was selected to the 2018 Maryland State Chorus based on his audition for that group in November. Auditions consist of learning one’s voice part (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) of a challenging choral work and singing that piece alone with recorded accompaniment; singing expressively from memory a short, lyrical folk song; and performing, at sight, unrehearsed rhythmic and melodic examples. The All Shore Chorus consists of the highest scoring singers from approximately 20 public and private high schools on the Eastern Shore, while the Maryland State Chorus is drawn from nearly 1500 high school students registered to audition across the state.

Members of the Maryland State Chorus will prepare their repertoire in the coming month, and spend three days together to rehearse with Dr. Arian Khaefi of Fullerton College, before their culminating public concert at Morgan State University, at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 11.

Members of the All Shore Chorus will similarly prepare to rehearse with their conductor, Dr. John Wesley Wright of Salisbury University, on Thursday and Friday, April 5 and 6. Their public performance will be at Queen Anne’s County High School, at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, April 6.

Film Festival Showcases TCPS Students’ Work

The 2017 Chesapeake Film Festival showcased four films created by students in the Interactive Media Production pathway at Easton High School.  The showcase included the winning submission from the 3rd annual Easton High School Film-In, as well as other student works.

The Film-In is a highly anticipated and popular event with Easton’s Interactive Media students, in which they are challenged to make a film that is completely storyboarded, shot, edited, and presented within 6 hours (one evening), and which incorporates a surprise genre, prop, line, event, theme, and actor, as well as other twists as the evening progresses. The 2017 winning team, “The Buds,” comprised of Easton seniors Nathaniel Trice, Catherine Blizzard, Alexis Miller, Nick Covey, junior Justin Copper, and sophomore Seth Wagner, will be at the pane to talk about their winning film Revelation. The film follows a student through a spiritual and enlightening experience.

Teacher Matt Stroka attempts to wake Nick Covey from a meditation in “Revelation”

The Chesapeake Film Festival is on the advisory board for Easton High School’s Interactive Media Production pathway, and one of the major supporters of the annual Film-In. Advisors work with students throughout the evening, as well as serve as judges at the end of the event.

Other student films that were showcased at Chesapeake Film Festival included senior Jack Stevens’ film Inspire, which tracks the passion and evolution of a filmmaker from smart phone to digital SLR and beyond. Also showcased was Silence, a short voiceover film by Easton High School and Interactive Media pathway graduate Joel Flora; and a PSA challenge for Talbot goes purple that was filmed in one continuous shot by Junior Ruby Grant.   The showcase was followed by a film panel discussion with students.

Mrs. Garnette Hines, who teaches the Interactive Media Production pathway at Easton High School, was thrilled for students to have the opportunity to showcase their work at the festival this year. She says, “The Interactive Media Production pathway is built upon the concept of a “real-world” application of skills. Each year I look for new opportunities for students to create media that is visible in our community. Students strive to create professional—looking films, and they are editing using industry-standard Adobe software. The Chesapeake Film festival has been a huge supporter of our young filmmakers, and the partnership has grown each year. The festival is an incredible opportunity for them to be recognized.”

Biomedical Science – Project Lead the Way Program Receives Recertification

St. Michaels Middle High School’s Biomedical Science – Project Lead the Way (PLTW) program received their initial certification on December 18, 2012.  Schools that adopt the PLTW program sign a School District Agreement requiring them to begin the process of certification by the beginning of their second year and to renew every five years after that. The purpose of certification is two-fold: to ensure implementation of a high quality PLTW program and verify college credit eligibility for select PLTW courses.

The three-step certification process involves: a self-assessment, site visit and final certification report. PLTW certification standards are outlined in the self-assessment document and demonstrate schools meet PLTW quality standards in: professional development of teachers and counselors; implementation of curriculum using required equipment and software; and the formation of a Partnership Team, among others.

From L-R: Pamela Clay, Career and Technology Education Curriculum Supervisor; Marcelina Castleberry, student; Katie Stang, student; Robin Werner, Science and CTE Teacher; Caroline Lenkiewicz, student; Sincere Taylor, student; Tracy Elzey, Saint Michaels Middle High Principal

Certification Minimum Requirements

1. A teacher who has successfully completed PLTW Core Training teaches PLTW courses.
2. Classroom equipment and software meets or exceeds the PLTW specifications.
3. A partnership team that supports the program and meets on a regular basis with a specific agenda and goals to accomplish.

We are proud to say that St. Michaels Middle/High School’s Biomedical Science program has met the requirements and has been recertified for 5 more years.  High school students completing a four-course PLTW sequence at a certified high school have access to the biology college credit at the Affiliate Universities nationwide, according to the terms and conditions of each individual credit process at each affiliate university.  In Maryland, Stevenson University awards the college credit for students successfully completed the program of study.

“We are very excited about this important achievement for the Saint Michaels Middle High Biomedical Science – Project Lead the Way program and the opportunities it presents for our students.” said Career and Technology Education Curriculum Supervisor Pamela Clay.”  More information about Talbot County Public Schools Career and Technology Education is available through the Easton High School and Saint Michaels Middle High School guidance offices.

AAUW Presents “Waterwomen” of the Chesapeake

The Easton Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) will present a discussion with two Talbot County “Waterwomen” of the Chesapeake on Saturday, February 10, 2018 from 10:00AM-Noon at the Talbot County Public Library in Easton. Judy Bixler, co-owner and captain of the 333 year-old Oxford-Bellevue Ferry and Kelley Phillips-Cox, founder, president and executive director of Phillips Wharf Environmental Center are featured. Both women have very interesting backgrounds and will share with us their current life on the water, their challenges, rewards, bits of information learned on the shore, as well as humorous stories of people and incidents encountered. Time has been allotted for questions and discussion.

This meeting is open to the public.

The Easton Branch of AAUW is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year.  For more information about the organization see our web site: aauweaston (MD) branch.  For membership information, call Connie Wolfe, 410-8819-6789 or elaine Wilson, 410-770-5049.

AAUW advances equity for all women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy and research.

Easton AAUW to Honor Luminous Leaders: Women Who Make a Difference

The Easton Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) is pleased to announce it will hold the 9th Women Who Make a Difference luncheon on Saturday, March 10 at the Miles River Yacht Club. This biennial event celebrates local women who have made stellar contributions to non-profit organizations. The theme of this year’s luncheon is Luminous Leaders: Women Who Make a Difference. The 2018 luncheon will once again highlight the many exceptional women who are nominated by local non-profit groups for this celebration.

AAUW’s Easton Branch has been empowering, inspiring, educating and advocating for women for 60 years, and our national organization has been a leading voice promoting education, equity and opportunity for women and girls since 1881. This AAUW-sponsored luncheon helps all of us learn about the many ways local women contribute to the non-profit groups that are essential to our civic life.

Non-profit organizations that wish to honor a member must complete the nomination form by February 10. For more information, contact Linda Tebbs at linda.tebbs@gmail.com or call 410-763-8265.

The Gunston School Honors Harry “Stoney” Duffey

On Saturday evening, January 27, members of The Gunston School community gathered to honor Mr. Harry “Stoney” Duffey at the school’s Leadership & Loyalty celebration.  Over a 50-year period, Mr. Duffey has been a student, parent, grandparent, and Chairman of the Board of Trustees.  In his role as Board Chair, the school completed the largest capital campaign in school history, and grew enrollment by nearly 40%.

Pictured from left to right: Jij Duffey, Stoney Duffey and Headmaster John Lewis.

With his wife, Jij, by his side Stoney listened as several guests spoke of the many accomplishments he made during his tenure at Gunston. Speakers included current Chairman of the Board, Jim Wright, Stoney’s daughters Pat Parkhurst and Catherine MacGlashan, and Headmaster John Lewis. Lewis concluded his speech with this parting sentiment that echoes throughout the Gunston community  “I can think of few people in the history of The Gunston School who have given more of themselves or have had greater influence on this school. Stoney’s vision and leadership have been transformative, and he deserves our congratulations and our appreciation. He is a great friend and supporter of The Gunston School.” At the end of the tribute, Parkhurst and MacGlashan made a toast to their father, to resounding applause.