Schools System Proposes Report Card and Grading Changes

Talbot County Public Schools presented proposed revisions to the elementary student report cards and the grading system for grades 3 -12 at the May Board of Education meeting.

TCPS established a grading committee during the 2015-2016 school year comprised of three subcommittees, Early Childhood (PreK-2), Elementary (3-5), and Secondary (6-12). Each subcommittee included teachers, administrators, curriculum staff, and parents. All schools, along with a cross section of content areas were represented.

The impetus for establishing the grading committee was two-fold:
• Examine and reflect on current grading practices in light of College and Career Readiness
• Answer the question “Is there a better way to do this?”

The work of the committee was guided by the belief that grades must represent what students know and are able to do. “Our primary role as educators is to promote learning; and therefore, our grading practices must support student motivation to learn,” said Helga Einhorn, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction.

The Early Childhood subcommittee is recommending revisions to the report cards for PreK-grade 2 so that they are more aligned with the Maryland State Standards and the curriculum currently taught. Each proposed primary report card includes the same major headings for curriculum areas in addition to a personal/social development component. The key for levels of proficiency is also the same for all of the primary grades with a 1-4 level designation, as compared with the current three levels. Each grade level report card also includes a place for teachers to write comments specific to student progress.

The Elementary subcommittee is recommending three changes to the proposed report card for grades 3-5. This includes the addition of the personal/social development skills. The second change is the inclusion of a text box for teachers to include specific feedback on individual student progress. The third change is the reporting of student progress as a letter grade rather than the current percentage grade system.

The Secondary Grading subcommittee is also recommending the shift from percentage grades to letter grades on report cards. The committee concluded in their research that percentage grades, while appearing precise, are impacted by many factors, which can include the point values assigned to a specific task, the number of assignments recorded, and whether an assignment is a formative or summative.

Currently TCPS is one of only two counties in the state reporting percentage grades. With the proposed change to letter grades, parents and students would continue to see percentage grades in Power School, but interims, report cards, and transcript will report letter grades.
A= 90-100%
B= 80-89%
C= 70-79%
D= 60-69%
F= 59% and below

Final grade will be calculated using quality points (0-4)

The next steps in the grading committee process will be to determine how these changes would be reflected in 9.25 Student Progress Report to Parents-AR; identify additional policies and ARs that would be impacted; and continue to gather feedback from parents. Questions regarding the proposed recommendations or feedback should be directed to Dr. Einhorn at heinhorn@tcps.k12.md.us or (410)822-0330 ext. 120.

Easton High Students Share Research at Annual Science Symposium

Students in the Biological Innovations and Advanced Placement Biology courses at Easton High School presented their research projects at the annual Science Symposium in the school media center on Wednesday April 26.

After conducting research in a scientific area of interest, students invited their mentors, parents and guardians, school administrators and the general public to an evening event that included a poster session along with formal electronic presentations.

Easton High students Peyton Elzey and Ian Stanley discuss their science research projects with Board of Education member Susie Hayward during the Annual Easton Science Symposium.

Research topics ranged from the medical field to the environment, including such titles as “The Effects of Personalized Medicine on Treatment Protocol of Cancer Patients”, “Smartphone Use and Effects on the Human Body”, “White Nose Syndrome in Bats”, “The Biochemistry of Taste and Smell”, “The Effects of Plastic Debris on Aquatic Life”, “Use of Viral Immunotherapy”, “Raising Awareness of Breast Cancer on the Eastern Shore”, “Schizophrenia: Nature vs. Nurture”, “Understanding Eating Disorders”, “Oyster Restoration” and “Dental Health and Alzheimer’s”.

Teachers Cheryl Overington and LeeAnn Hutchison organized the Science Symposium to celebrate the accomplishments of high school students in the area of scientific research, and to recognize the importance of scientists and health care experts as mentors, and an integral part of the TCPS science program.

Gunston Competes in Academic Team National Championships

For the first time in school history, Gunston’s Academic Team competed in the in the National Association of Quiz Tournaments national championship tournament, held in Chicago at the end of April. Drawing many of the strongest academic secondary schools from across the country, the NAQT tournament is the premier academic quiz bowl tournament in the United States. The Herons finished 20th overall in the Charter and Private division. The team initially qualified for nationals at the Johns Hopkins Winter Tournament, and were led by Seniors Abigail Miller (Easton) and Sutter Phillips (Stevensville), Sophomore Phineas Howell (Chestertown) and Freshman Andrew Amygdalos (Dover, DE).

Pictured left to right: Phineas Howell, Headmaster John Lewis, Sutter Phillips, Abigail Miller, Andrew Amygdalos.

Gunston’s academic team coach, Headmaster John Lewis, said, “The team has worked incredibly hard all year, and it was fun to match wits with some of the best students in the country. They worked well as a team, and though we will miss Sutter and Abby, we look forward to heading back to nationals next year.”

The performance of Freshman Andrew Amygdalos was especially impressive. In a field typically dominated by 11th and 12th graders, he ranked as the 35th overall individual tournament scorer, making him one of the strongest 9th grade academic team players in the country.

Committee Selects Architect for New Easton Elementary School

The Board of Education approved the recommendation made by TCPS Facilities Manager Kevin Shafer on behalf of the Easton Elementary School Project Steering Committee to pursue a contract for engineering and design services for the project with Noelker and Hull Associates, Inc., a firm based in Frederick, MD.

The Project Steering Committee was comprised of representatives from the Talbot County Council, the Board of Education, the NAACP, TCPS Staff, school administrators, and parents.

Noelker and Hull is one of three firms asked to participate in the Request for Proposal (RFP) Process.  Each participating firm submitted a 50-page proposal.  Each firm’s design team subsequently went through a 50-minute interview process.

Through that process committee members ranked the three firms using a matrix of criteria.  Once the ranking was complete, each firm’s fee proposal was reviewed.  Noelker and Hull was selected based on both the fee proposal and the committee’s rankings.

The two other firms that participated in the RFP Process were Becker Morgan Group, Inc. and Grimm and Parker Architects.  “All three firms were represented well in the process,” said Shafer.  “The committee’s decision was difficult because of the quality submissions by all three firms.”

TCPS Announces Last Day of School for 2016-2017

Talbot County Public Schools recently announced that the last day of school for the 2016-2017 school year will be Wednesday June 7, 2017, and this will be half day. The last day for Pre-Kindergarten will be Friday June 2. This represents a change from the original approved calendar, as the school system did not use all of the built-in inclement weather days.

Easton Middle and High School Students Win Stock Market Game Championships

The Stock Market Game is an educational simulation that teaches students about stock markets, economic systems, investment and the global economy.  Participants develop skills in math, language arts, research and critical thinking, while building and maintaining a stock portfolio.  The Stock Market Game was made available to our teachers county-wide to use in social studies classes or as an after-school club.

Easton Middle School students Aidan Bell, Robert Delatos James Ferreira, Jesus Velazquez, Regional Winners in the Stock Market Game.

At Easton Middle School, under the guidance of coach/advisor Mr. Ed Keeler, student teams achieved distinction while learning economics and investment strategy.  Aidan Bell, Robert Delatos, James Ferreira and Jesus Velasquez were Regional Champions.  Molly Johnson, Isabella Fiorenza and Charles Mueller are State Champions!  All of these winners are students in Mr. Ed Keeler’s 8th grade U.S. History classes.  Over the years, Mr. Keeler’s students have won 4 Regional and 6 State Championships.

Easton High School students in Mr. Jeff Payne’s Personal Finance class won the Eastern Shore Region in the high school category.  Christopher Guy, Taylor Hutchinson, Brooke Lewis, and Nereyda Perez were presented their awards by the Maryland Council on Economic Education.  This is the fourth time Mr. Payne’s students have won a Stock Market Game Championship.

White Marsh Students Raise “Pennies for Patients”

Tracey Dickerson’s 4th grade class raised the most funds and earned a Pizza Party from Olive Garden (pictured, with Guidance Counselor Anne Rosen and Principal Sherry Bowen).

White Marsh Elementary students participated in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Pennies for Patients fundraiser, program that gives students the unique experience of working together to help raise awareness and funds in honor of thousands of children and adults fighting against blood cancers! For 3 weeks, students brought in spare change and bills to donate to this worthy cause raising a total of $2,696.32. Ten classrooms raised over $100, 2 raised over $200, and Mrs. Dickerson’s Grade 4 class collected $309.45 winning the gold pennant and a pizza part from Domino’s. The students, parents, grandparents and the White Marsh community as a whole really pitched in to make this effort a success. Thanks to all involved, they exceeded their original goal of $2,000!

Other medal winning classes were:
Mrs. Gencel’s 4th Grade                 $283.51 (silver)
Dr. Davis’ 5th Grade                        $244.11 (silver)
Mrs. Tuckers’ K class                       $112.78 (bronze)
Mrs. Bryan’s 1st Grade                    $114.70 (bronze)
Ms. Ryan’s 1st Grade                       $108.02 (bronze)
Mrs. Shafer’s 1st Grade                   $191.63 (bronze)
Mrs. Weems 2nd Grade                  $160.12 (bronze)
Mr. Elliott’s 3rd Grade                    $138.32 (bronze)
Mrs. Johnson’s 3rd Grade              $172.12 (bronze)
Ms. Miller’s 3rd Grade                    $139.20 (bronze)
Mrs. Thomson’s 4th Grade            $162.05 (bronze)
Mrs. Dyott’s 5th Grade                   $105.83 (bronze)

Caleb Erskine is Easton High’s May Artist of the Month

Pictured L-R: Linda Wieder, Easton High School Assistant Principal; Caleb Erskine; Will Callahan from Ben Franklin; Jonathan Crist, EHS Fine Arts Teacher.

Senior Caleb Erskine has been selected as the “Ben Franklin Artist of the Month” at Easton High School.  This partnership has made it possible to celebrate some of the many talented art students at EHS.

Third Graders Explore the Izaak Walton League’s Bolingbroke Park in Trappe

“I found a salamander!” Over the past 25 years, third-graders from Talbot County Public Schools have been visiting the Izaak Walton League’s Bolingbroke Park in Trappe for a field experience led by Pickering Creek Audubon Center educators. The trip is an exciting change of scenery for the students who visit different parts of the Audubon sanctuary’s 400 acres in first and second grades.

During the visit to Bolingbroke Park, students rotate through three stations making observations and asking questions all along the way. While hiking through a diverse forest, students look for trees in every stage of growth – from saplings, to mature trees, to standing dead trees to fallen, decomposing logs. At another station, they spend time rolling over those logs where they find small animals like beetles, worms and red-backed salamanders. The students also spend some time holding and looking at signs of animals they might find in the forest including mammal skulls, furs, snake skins and live turtles.

Mrs. Higginbottom’s 3rd grade students cross a footbridge at the Izaak Walton League’s Bolingbroke Park.

“While on our hike, students are always so excited to show me they found a young seedling,” reflected Annie Weishaar, one of Pickering Creek’s educators after a field trip this week. “I love seeing my students so eager to learn about trees!”

Field experiences give students an opportunity to practice using scientific observation skills that deepen their understanding about wildlife. As a bonus, everyone loves the chance to gasp at a snake slithering up a tree branch!

Third grade field experiences with Talbot County Public Schools students at Bolingbroke Park led by Pickering Creek Audubon Center will be taking place through the middle of April. The programs fit into the third grade science curriculum and connect what to students learn in the classroom to the natural world outdoors. Educators of all age groups looking for student field experiences can call Pickering Creek at 410-822-4903 to begin planning for the 2017-2018 school year.

Bolingbroke Park is a 55 acre wooded tract maintained by the Mid-Shore Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America (IWLA).  IWLA is a national conservation organization and is focused on conserving and protecting our natural resources.  Pickering Creek has been partnering with the Izaak Walton League to bring third grade students to their unique property for the last 25 years.

Tred Avon Players Announce this Year’s Foster Scholarship Winners

The Tred Avon Players have awarded David H. Foster scholarships to five Mid-Shore students who will use the funds to help further their college educations. This year’s recipients are Julia Gannon, Clair Gross, Catharine Jacobs, Michael J. McCormack and Summer Snead.

David H. Foster scholarships are awarded annually to students who are judged on their commitment to Mid-Shore community theater and contributions to TAP productions. They also must show a balance of community service, creativity and scholarship.

Julia Gannon plans to attend Washington College as a creative writing major in the fall. She has worked on many TAP plays, most recently “Cemetery Club.”

Photo, from left, Michael McCormack, Summer Snead, Claire Gross, Herb Ziegler, Catherine Jacobs, and Julia Gannon.

Claire Gross plan to study biology and anthropology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County in the fall. She wants to become a paleoanthropologist. Here most recent TAP show was “A Man of No Importance.”

A student at North Caroline High School, Catharine Jacobs has been a volunteer in a many shows, including TAP’s current production of “Lend Me a Tenor” as assistant director. She expects to attend Chesapeake College and later pursue a bachelor’s degree in teaching.

Michael J. McCormack has been involved in Mid-Shore theater productions on stage or behind the scenes for the last 10 years. A senior at Saints Peter and Paul High School, he enjoys the challenges of theater production and wants to major in arts and entertainment management when he enters college in the fall.

Summer Snead has been in a range of shows for TAP and other community theater groups since she was six years old. She plans to study musical theater in college in the fall.

A legend in the TAP community, Foster was a board member, director, actor, producer and writer for nearly three decades. His love for theater and working with young people converged in his directing three plays at Easton High School. He also taught acting to youngsters at the Oxford Community Center for many summers and mentored theater-loving high-school seniors in their pursuit of acting in college and summer theater programs.

Donations may be made in David H. Foster’s memory at any time to TAP, PO Box 444, Oxford, MD 21654, Attn: David H. Foster Scholarship Fund. The Tred Avon Players are funded by grants from the Maryland State Arts Council, an agency dedicated to cultivating a vibrant cultural community where the arts thrive, and from the Talbot County Arts Council.