Lane Engineering Supports the TCPS Education Foundation Annual Appeal

Lane Engineering, LLC has donated $1000 to the Talbot County Public Schools Education Foundation Annual Appeal.  Established in 1986, Lane Engineering, LLC provides a full array of civil engineering, environmental, and surveying services, and has offices in Easton, Centreville and Cambridge.

Pictured L-R: Laura Heikes and Rebecca Firth, Education Foundation Advisory Board; Timothy Glass, Vice President, Lane Engineering, LLC; Patrick Fitzgerald, Education Foundation Advisory Board Chair, David Short, Education Foundation Advisory Board; Dr. Kelly Griffith, Superintendent of Schools.

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 Honora Teacher program, and developing a grant application process.  On May 3, the Foundation will host its first fundraising event “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?” in the Easton High Auditorium at 6:00 p.m.  To learn more about supporting the Talbot County Public Schools Education Foundation, contact Debbie Gardner, Coordinator of Public Relations and Special Programs at

For more information about Lane Engineering, LLC (LE LLC), visit

The Wizard of Oz Comes to Wye River Upper School

Wye River Upper School presents the Wizard of Oz on March 15 and 16 in Centreville, MD. The students have been working throughout the winter months on all elements of the production from acting, to set design and painting, costuming, program design, lighting, sound, and choreography. WRUS Music Instructor and Theater Director, Marissa Muro, has been leading the students through the process along with the support of Kimberleigh Nichols, WRUS Spanish Instructor, and Assistant Theater Director. Visiting Artist, Will Hemsley has been guiding the set design crew along with the support of WRUS Art Instructor, James Martinez. Ms. Muro shares, “What a wonderful coordinated effort so far. We are all very excited to see the outcome in a couple weeks. This is a talented group of students and their hard work is paying off.”

The Wicked Witch of the West (sophomore, Rylan Cole) confronts Glinda the Good Witch (freshman Laura Wright).

The performances will be held Thursday, March 15 and Friday, March 16 at 7 pm at the Wye River Upper School campus, 316 S. Commerce Street, Centreville, MD 21617. Tickets can be purchased online at or at the door. Ticket prices are $6 for children, $7 for seniors and $10 for adults. Parking is available both nights at the St. Paul’s Church (adjacent to the school), and Edward’s Pharmacy (102 Commerce St.). Overflow parking will also be available at the QAC Library (121 Commerce St.) for the March 16 performance.

Wye River Upper School is an independent high school for bright students with learning differences like ADHD or dyslexia. For more information, please contact 410.758.2922,

Scholarship Application by The Woman’s Club of St. Michaels

The Woman’s Club of St. Michaels Scholarship application deadline is March 26th, 2018.  This year the club will award up to $7,500 in scholarship funds to one or more students graduating from St. Michaels High School in 2018.  The successful candidate or candidates will exhibit outstanding academic performance, be active in their schools and communities, and be in need of financial assistance.

The application and information, including a rubric to guide applicants in writing their essays, is available From Mr. JR Burkhardt in the SMHS Guidance Department.  The information is also available online through the SMHS website. The award is open to both male and female students. To be eligible for the scholarship, applicants must plan to attend an accredited 2 or 4 year college/university, or a technical or vocational school during the semester following his or her high school graduation.

In addition to information regarding academic performance and volunteer activities, students are required to submit a personal essay and to interview with the Scholarship Committee in early spring.

WC Names Greg Farley First Director of Sustainability

Washington College’s first director of sustainability, Greg Farley, didn’t start his career as what he calls the “we-need-to-recycle-that-please-turn-off-your-lights guy.” But, it wasn’t a long stretch from his work as a biology teacher at Chesapeake College. The science, he says, “demands that you do something.”

So Farley has been doing something—helping Chesapeake College become a regional leader in renewable energy use, stormwater management, and resource conservation—and now he’s bringing that something to Washington College. Earlier this month, he assumed a newly created position as director of sustainability, in which he will work closely with operations and administration to help the College align environmental and financial sustainability as it continues to move forward.

“The climate change science is devastatingly clear,” Farley says. “So the science drives what I want to do, which is try and fix it before it’s too late.”

Farley grew up south of Boston but calls himself a “fully naturalized southerner,” having earned his undergrad degree at Duke University and his masters at Florida State University. He studied invertebrate zoology, evolutionary biology, and marine science, and in 2003, Chesapeake College hired him as a junior faculty member teaching biology. That’s where he started noticing problems he thought he could help solve.

“We were generating about 31,000 plastic bottles every month from vending machines and other sources like the cafeteria and bookstore,” Farley says. “And we were taking them to the trash. So, I assigned some students an honors recycling project—go fix that—and that got some people’s attention, and it got the institution thinking about some things. So that kind of grew into my avocation, instead of just my teaching position.”

That avocation came into full flower after a sabbatical leave in 2011, when he studied at the Sustainable Living Institute of Maui, part of the University of Hawai’i Maui College. He became the director of Chesapeake College’s Center for Leadership in Environmental Education, where he worked to bring the concepts and actions of sustainability into the classroom, across the campus, and throughout the larger community. Using a variety of methods, the college trimmed energy use by about 30 percent. Then, under a PPA (power purchase agreement) with Solar City, the college developed a two-megawatt solar array that, in its first year of operation, saved $85,000.

“On a good sunny day, we can run the entire campus off solar,” he says.

At Washington College, Farley’s initial focus will be generating cost savings from energy reduction and using alternative energy sources. At the same time, he hopes to raise energy consciousness so that it’s an ingrained part of campus culture as staff, faculty, and students become more aware of how their everyday actions can help conserve energy, lower costs, and ultimately benefit the bottom line and the environment. For instance, he says, along with obvious things like turning out the lights when you leave a room, unplugging computer and phone chargers from the walls when they’re not in use can dramatically cut “vampire” load, which can be up to 20 percent of a building’s energy use.

Farley was excited to learn that the College has already switched to LED lighting, a project that is saving 1.2 million kilowatt hours annually. Along with material savings—LED lamps last as much as 10 times longer than fluorescent ones for, example—the dollar savings is $145,000.00 per year, says Reid Raudenbush, construction project manager. A $200,000 Delmarva Power rebate helped ameliorate some of $1 million cost for the project, which should take about six years to reach the return on the investment.

The College’s geothermal system is also extremely energy-efficient. Using the earth’s constant 55-degree temperature, fluid pumped through 300-foot-deep wells is heated or cooled, then used to heat or cool buildings. Geothermal fields serve William Smith Hall, the Miller Library, Cromwell Hall, the Hodson Dining Hall, and Chester, Sassafras, and Corsica residence halls, Raudenbush says. The new Hodson Boathouse and the Semans-Griswold Environmental Hall will be geothermal, and the Cullen residence hall is being designed for geothermal as well.

Farley says he hopes ultimately to make Washington College one of the greenest in the country.

“We need to make that obvious to consumers, that this is part of the College’s mission, and just the simple act of doing that can make the rest of the institution understand, hey, this is important. This is a part of our culture. . . Once you make inroads into the conversation,” he says, “it’s not hard to envision that’s something we could do.”

TCPS Appoints Tracy Elzey as Curriculum Supervisor

Talbot County Public Schools has appointed Mrs. Tracy Elzey as Curriculum Supervisor effective July 1, 2018. She is currently serving as Principal of Saint Michaels Middle High School.

Mrs. Elzey has worked in education for 25 years. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and a Masters of Education in Administration from Salisbury University, and she has completed doctoral level courses at Notre Dame of Maryland University. “Mrs. Elzey has been a very effective leader at the building level,” said Dr. Kelly Griffith, Superintendent. “Her experience and educational background will complement the rest of our outstanding curriculum supervising team.”

Elzey began her career in Caroline County where she taught third, fifth and first grades before becoming an Assistant Principal. She joined TCPS as Assistant Principal of the Easton Elementary School campus in 2007.  She was promoted to Principal of Saint Michaels Elementary School in 2010 and became Principal of Saint Michaels Middle High in 2016.

“I am very excited to pursue this new challenge in my career,” Elzey said. “I believe my experience working at the elementary, middle and high school levels will enable me to succeed as a member of the curriculum team.” Mrs. Elzey lives in Easton with her husband Matt, a Varsity Softball Coach at Easton High School and daughter Peyton who is a senior at Easton High. She is a member of the St. Michaels Family YMCA Advisory Board.

Board of Education Approves Calendar Changes

The Board of Education approved several recommended changes to the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 approved school calendars at their February meeting.

With 2017-2018 being the first year of the mandated post Labor Day start, the school system was faced with new challenges in meeting the requirements of COMAR for the number of days students attend school.  Four inclement weather days were built into the calendar, and as of January 17, 2018,the school system had already used all of them.  This necessitated amending the 2017-2018 approved calendar to change January 26 (Transition Day) from a day off for students and a work-day for teachers to an early dismissal day for students.  The Board also approved a conditional waiver request to be submitted to the Maryland State Board of Education, which would have allowed schools to be open on Presidents’ Day, February 19, 2018 if needed.

“While the excessive number of inclement weather days in January was unusual, we realized that this situation could occur again in future years,” said Dr. Helga Einhorn, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction.  “In order to be proactive, we have proposed several changes to the approved calendars for 2018-2019 and 2019-2020.”

For 2018-2019, Transition Day will be identified as a potential make-up day should TCPS use all of the built-in inclement weather days prior to that date.  Presidents’ Day will be a potential make-up day provided a waiver is obtained from the Maryland State Department of Education, and April 18 (the Thursday before Easter) will also be a potential make-up day.  In addition, there will be a total of 6 inclement weather days built in to the school year due to the fact that June 14, 2019 falls on a Friday.

For 2019-2020, the same changes will apply for Transition Day and Presidents’ Day, as well as the Thursday before Easter, which falls on April 9.  However, there will once again be only 4 inclement weather days built in, as Friday June 12 has been set as the last day of school and June 15 falls on a Monday.

“We hope that by outlining these potential changes in this far in advance, staff and families will be able to plan accordingly,” Dr. Einhorn added.

Seven Books Named as Finalists for the 2018 George Washington Prize

Seven books published in 2017 by the country’s most prominent historians have been named finalists for the George Washington Prize. The annual award recognizes the past year’s best-written works on the nation’s founding era, especially those that have the potential to advance broad public understanding of early American history.

“Understanding the first chapter of our national story is more essential today than ever,” said Adam Goodheart, director of Washington College’s Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, one of the prize’s three cosponsors. “These books reconnect us with ideas that made the United States a beacon for democratic movements around the world.”

Created in 2005 by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, George Washington’s Mount Vernon, and Washington College, the $50,000 George Washington Prize is one of the nation’s largest and most notable literary awards.

The finalists’ books combine depth of scholarship and broad expanse of inquiry with vivid prose that exposes the complexities of our founding narrative. Written to engage a wide public audience, the books provide a “go-to” reading list for anyone interested in learning more about George Washington, his contemporaries, and the founding of the United States of America.

The 2018 George Washington Prize finalists are:

S. Max Edelson, The New Map of Empire: How Britain Imagined America before Independence (Harvard University Press)
Kevin J. Hayes, George Washington: A Life in Books (Oxford University Press)
Eric Hinderaker, Boston’s Massacre (Harvard University Press)
Jon Kukla, Patrick Henry: Champion of Liberty (Simon & Schuster)
James E. Lewis, Jr., The Burr Conspiracy Uncovering the Story of an Early American Crisis (Princeton University Press)
Jennifer Van Horn, The Power of Objects in Eighteenth-Century America (University of North Carolina Press for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture)
Douglas L. Winiarski, Darkness Falls on the Land of Light: Experiencing Religious Awakenings in Eighteenth-Century New England (University of North Carolina Press for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture)

The winner of the 2018 prize will be announced, and all finalists recognized, at a black-tie gala on May 23, 2018 at George Washington’s Mount Vernon.

More information about the George Washington Prize is available at


S. MAX EDELSON is associate professor of history at the University of Virginia and the author of Plantation Enterprise in Colonial South Carolina (Harvard University Press). He was the recipient of the National Endowment for the Humanities Digital Implementation Grant to develop MapScholar, a dynamic visualization tool for historic maps.

KEVIN J. HAYES, Professor Emeritus at the University of Central Oklahoma, is the author of several books including The Road to Monticello: The Life and Mind of Thomas Jefferson (Oxford University Press) and A Journey through American Literature (Oxford University Press). He is the recipient of the Virginia Library History Award presented by the Library of Virginia and the Virginia Center for the Book.

ERIC HINDERAKER is professor of history at the University of Utah and author of The Two Hendricks: Unraveling a Mohawk Mystery, which won the Dixon Ryan Fox Prize by the New York State Historical Society and the Herbert H. Lehman Prize by the New York Academy of History.

JON KUKLA is the author of Mr. Jefferson’s Women and A Wilderness So Immense: The Louisiana Purchase and the Destiny of America, as well as many scholarly articles and reviews. He has served as the executive director of the Historic New Orleans Collection and of Red Hill-The Patrick Henry National Memorial in Charlotte County, Virginia.

JAMES E. LEWIS, JR., is professor of history at Kalamazoo College. His books include The Louisiana Purchase: Jefferson’s Noble Bargain? and John Quincy Adams: Policymaker for the Union.

JENNIFER VAN HORN is assistant professor of art history and history at the University of Delaware and specializes in early American visual and material culture.

DOUGLAS L. WINIARSKI is an associate professor of Religious Studies and American Studies at the University of Richmond, where he teaches a wide range of courses on the history of religion in early America.


The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History
Founded in 1994 by visionaries and lifelong proponents of American History education Richard Gilder and Lewis E. Lehrman, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is the leading American history nonprofit organization dedicated to K-12 education. With a focus on primary sources, the Gilder Lehrman Institute illuminates the stories, people and moments that inspire students of all ages and backgrounds to learn and understand more about history. Through a diverse portfolio of education programs, including the acclaimed Hamilton Education Program, the Gilder Lehrman Institute provides opportunities for nearly two million students, 30,000 teachers and 16,000 schools worldwide. Learn more at

George Washington’s Mount Vernon

Since 1860, more than 85 million visitors have made George Washington’s Mount Vernon the most popular historic home in America.  Through thought-provoking tours, entertaining events, and stimulating educational programs on the estate and in classrooms across the nation, Mount Vernon strives to preserve George Washington’s place in history as “First in War, First in Peace, and First in the Hearts of His Countrymen.” Mount Vernon is owned and operated by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, America’s oldest national preservation organization, founded in 1853.  In 2013, Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association opened the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington, which safeguards original books and manuscripts and serves as a center for research, scholarship, and leadership development.

Washington College was founded in 1782, the first institution of higher learning established in the new republic. George Washington was not only a principal donor to the college, but also a member of its original governing board. He received an honorary degree from the college in June 1789, two months after assuming the presidency. The college’s Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, which administers the George Washington Prize, explores the American experience in all its diversity and complexity, seeks creative approaches to illuminating the past, and inspires thoughtful conversation informed by history.

For more information:

TCPS Presents 2017 Graduation Data to Board of Education

Talbot County Public Schools presented Cohort Graduation and Dropout Data at the February Board of Education Meeting.  Mrs. Lynne Duncan, Assistant Superintendent for Administrative and Support Services gave a detailed overview, which included explaining what qualifies as a high school diploma, defining categories of “drop-outs” and sharing results for particular cohorts, or groups of students.

For the class of 2017, the four-year cohort graduation rate was 84.69% for Easton, 100% for Saint Michaels Middle High and 87.11% for Talbot County as a whole.   This represents an increase over 2016 when the graduation rates were 82.11%, 100% and 85.51% respectively.  The State of Maryland graduation rate for 2017 was 87.67%.“We are happy to see this progress over last year,” said Dr. Kelly Griffith, Superintendent of Schools, “but we are by no means satisfied, as it is our goal that every student eligible to receive a standard high school diploma do so in four years.”

For the class of 2016, five-year cohort, the graduation rates were 84.91% for Easton High, 100% for Saint Michaels, 87.78% for all Talbot Schools and 89.47 for the state of Maryland.

There were a total of 46 non-graduates for the class of 2017.  Four of those are anticipated to graduate in 2019, and three were special education students who earned their Certificate of Attendance.  The 39 actual dropouts can be summarized as follows:

• 10 students moved out of the area and did not enroll elsewhere
• 9 students left the traditional school setting to work on their GED
• 8 students turned 21 and are no longer legally eligible to attend school
• 4 students left to work full-time
• 5 students dropped out in spite of multiple interventions
• 2 students became incarcerated
• 1 student became a parent and left school

To further address the graduation/drop-out rate in the county, a number of dropout prevention and re-engagement strategies and interventions have been continued or put into place by both the Student Services and the Drop-Out Prevention and Re-Engagement Coordinator, a new position to TCPS this year in partnership with the Talbot Family Network.

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

For more information about Avon-Dixon Insurance Agency, visit

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


Help the Spy keep Spying in Talbot County

Please support the educational mission of the non-profit Talbot Spy with a modest contribution per month to help us continue our local coverage of Talbot County’s public affairs, arts and regional culture.

Click Here to Chip In