Major Kerr Fund Grant Supports WRUS MakerSpace

WRUS students collaborated with local artist Sue Stockman to create a permanent mosaic.

An innovative MakerSpace project at Centreville’s Wye River Upper School (WRUS), has been greatly strengthened by a $120,000 grant from the Grayce B. Kerr Fund, Inc. of Easton, Maryland. This new grant to the independent school for bright students who learn differently will augment a recent $100,000 grant for the capital portion of the MakerSpace project from Baltimore’s Middendorf Foundation by helping to support faculty who will lead the project over the next three years.

The WRUS Board of Trustees is pleased to announce this grant to the student-centered “design and build” educational experience set to launch in the 2018-19 school year.

The Grayce B Kerr Fund’s president, John Valliant said, “The Trustees of the Grayce B. Kerr Fund, Inc. are pleased to assist Wye River Upper School in this exciting addition to their dynamic curriculum. Innovative programs like this are what keeps WRUS as a leader in providing a quality education experience to those with learning differences.”

WRUS Board Chair Alexa Seip commented, “The Grayce B. Kerr Fund is a remarkable asset for the Mid-Shore community and beyond. At WRUS, the Kerr Fund has enabled many deserving students to experience transforming opportunities as they prepare to take their place as contributing citizens in the future.  We at WRUS are most grateful for this generous support from the Kerr Fund.”

The WRUS MakerSpace at 318 S. Commerce Street in Centreville, MD will be located adjacent to the school’s main structure, a historically renovated former Maryland National Guard Armory. With funding from the Middendorf Foundation, work is underway to prepare the structure to accommodate the equipment and tools needed for a MakerSpace.

WRUS Executive Director Chrissy Aull explains, “A MakerSpace is similar to what we used to call  ‘shop’, with some big differences. It is a gender-neutral space equipped with low tech and high tech “design and build” equipment and tools where students, instead of being told what to build, are encouraged to collaborate in identifying issues or needs, creating possible designs to address the need, and then fabricating the object. We will have 3D printers and laser cutters as well as more low-tech hand and power tools, and will weave design opportunities throughout the entire curriculum. We see this MakerSpace as an engaging way to prepare our students for the demands of college and careers.”

WRUS students, staff and visiting artist Sue Stockman designed and constructed a mosaic mural.

Art and Technology Instructor James Martinez, a WRUS teacher since the school’s founding, will lead the design and use of the Space.  Martinez brings broad experience to the project while helping WRUS students create a 3D Printer for the new space.  A graduate of Texas Tech University with an MFA in printmaking from the University of Delaware, he has taught at the Delaware College of Art & Design and Washington College and is a frequent participant in MakerFaires in Brooklyn, N.Y. “Projects can be simple or much more complex; the focus is on encouraging students to identify, design and build,” advises Martinez.

Wye River Upper School was founded in 2002 and leased space on the campus of Chesapeake College until 2014 when it relocated to its permanent campus in the repurposed Centreville Armory.  An independent high school educating bright high school students with learning differences including dyslexia, ADHD, autism and anxiety, WRUS is accredited by the Association of Independent Maryland Schools (AIMS) and certified by the Maryland State Department of Education.

For more information about the School contact Katie Theeke at 410-758-2922 or katietheeke@wyeriverupperschool.org

Chesapeake College: Dual Enrollment Now at Caroline Career and Tech Center

Chesapeake College has taken its popular Dual Enrollment program to the Caroline Career and Tech Center this year to expand the partnership and offer college courses to CTE students in Caroline County.

When CCTC counselor Brad Plutschak asked for a way to give CTE students an early college experience, Chesapeake offered up an IT class aimed at providing high school students college credits and industry knowledge.

Professor Lanka Elson, through her Computer Ethics class, teaches these aspiring IT professionals the technology and theories they need for their next steps.

Learn from administrators, the Chesapeake instructor and her students talk about how Dual Enrollment is career preparation and college experience.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about the Dual Enrollment program at Chesapeake College please go here. 

Top Grad is Pursuing American Dream through Education

Sofiah Ali’s immigrant journey began in the Philippines and is the reason behind her success.

Ms. Ali, a Stevensville resident, is a biology major and aspiring medical researcher. Tonight, she will be honored with the John T. Harrison Award, the highest student honor at Chesapeake College.

A first-generation college student, Ms. Ali will receive her associate’s degree along with 300 other graduates and will deliver her acceptance speech to them. President and CEO of University of Maryland Shore Regional Health Ken Kozel will deliver the commencement address.

A 2016 graduate of Kent Island High School, Ms. Ali has a cumulative 4.0 Grade Point Average. Since enrolling at Chesapeake, she has been on the Dean’s List every semester.  As an Honors Program student, Ms. Ali completed four Honors Contract projects during her time at Chesapeake.

Ms. Ali, 20, was a semi-finalist for the prestigious national Jack Kent Cooke Transfer Scholarship this year and was a 2017 nominee for the NCHC Portz Award. She is an active member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and participated in recruitment drive that significantly boosted membership.

This record of success if part of a long journey that began more than 15 years ago.

Parents Farzand and Aileen Ali, brought Ms. Ali and her sister Shavanah to Maryland as very young children. This is the only home that Ms. Ali has ever known.

“I don’t remember living in the Philippines, so the United States is what I know. I’ve always had a great sense of pride in my background and where I came from. But when I was younger, because of the influences of my peers, I felt the need to quickly assimilate with those around me,” Ms. Ali said. “I tried to hide something that was an integral part of my identity, I was embarrassed of who I was and the differences I had compared to everyone else. As a result, I began to feel detached from my parents and my culture because of who I was trying to be. Now that I’m older, I realize how silly that was. My differences are what sets me apart from those around me.”

Faculty and staff at Chesapeake say that Ms. Ali’s dedication and drive set her apart.

Ms. Ali works a full schedule at Ledo Pizza on Kent Island while she maintains her perfect GPA at Chesapeake. This semester, she is taking 21 credits. She also volunteers her time with Youthline Eastern Shore Crisis Center.

She was the first-place winner in the Spring 2017 Honors Poster Exhibition and earned a trip to the National Collegiate Honors Council Conference in Atlanta last fall.

On the honors trip, Ms. Ali had the opportunity to visit the Centers for Disease Control. Ms. Ali said she was inspired by both the history and mission of CDC. She hopes to conduct medical research in the future that can be used to improve lives around the globe.

Chesapeake faculty cited, among many attributes, Ms. Ali’s extraordinary work ethic when recommending her for the Harrison Award.

“My mother and father always wanted me to achieve the American Dream. Like millions of other immigrant parents, they left their home country to establish a new life—a better life—for my sister and me. They had sacrificed everything they’d ever known—their language, family, friends, and jobs—in hopes that the new life they sought out for us would open doors to opportunities they never had. From the moment I entered Pre-K until now, I made sure I worked hard in all of my endeavors so that everything they had to give up on would one day be worth it,” Ms. Ali said. “I felt the need to prove myself and work twice as hard. I was not going to hold myself back from living a life without purpose. The tears I once shed out of hopelessness have been replaced with hope and motivation for my life-long ambitions.”

In nominating his student for the Harrison Award, Phi Theta Kappa faculty advisor Jeremy Crowe described Ms. Ali as one of Chesapeake’s great assets.

“Sofiah is an excellent student, an excellent human being and she will bring prestige to this college as an alumna. She is the daughter of immigrants who instilled in Sofiah the importance of hard work, perseverance and kindness. Her Pakistani and Filipino heritage brings diversity to our campus, and you won’t meet a friendlier student Skipjack,” said Associate Professor Jeremy Crowe.

Ms. Ali said that she hopes her Commencement will be as rewarding for her parents as it is for her.

 “I’m eternally grateful for their decision and everything that they had to sacrifice. Although at times, the obstacles we would be presented with are enough to lose hope, I will never forget the things they had to give up on just for the sake of my sister and me. All of their blood, sweat, and tears will one day be exchanged for a better life when my sister and I will be able to one day take care of them the way they did for us,” she said.

Ms. Ali will pursue a bachelor’s degree this fall at either the University of Maryland or Tufts University. She plans to major in molecular biology with the goal of earning a doctorate and becoming a medical researcher.

Learning from the Island with Tilghman Area Youth Association

Slow down as you cross the drawbridge to Tilghman Island so you can take in the beauty of the water and landscape around you.  Roll down your windows and breathe the crisp air that promises a spring soon to come.  Realize that some people are lucky enough to live here — and some young kids are lucky enough to go to school in the middle of this living bay laboratory.

Tilghman Area Youth Association (TAYA) is proud to partner with Tilghman Elementary School to offer the kids on the island unparalleled access to activities that teach them about their surroundings and help them appreciate the beauty of nature in their own backyard.

This spring, kids in TAYA’s award-winning afterschool program enjoy lots of outdoor time on our island as we get wet, wild, dirty, and have fun with special guest educators from many local environmental organizations.  We visit Phillips Wharf Environmental Center each week to see aquatic animals and play games to learn about the Chesapeake Bay.  The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, Shore Rivers, and Poplar Island come to us with interesting activities about wetlands, trees, and island habitat.  A local Master Gardener and experts from the University of Maryland Extension continue to work with the kids to plant, harvest, and cook yummy foods from our school garden.

And we continue our fun programs on half-days of school with support from local artists, the Tilghman Watermen’s Museum, and Talbot County Arts Council with a special Arts on the Island day where the children will explore island landscapes through both plein air painting and photography.

TAYA also supports a variety of environmental science activities during the school day at Tilghman Elementary School.  Angie Asmussen’s third-grade students raise a juvenile terrapin in their classroom all year long, caring for it and collecting data for scientists.  In the spring, they travel to Poplar Island, just off the coast of Tilghman Island, to release their terrapin.  Teachers Lindsay Grow and Katie Fox (Talbot County School’s 2017-18 Teacher of the Year) lead a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, & Math) night that includes a variety of science activities for families.  For the second year in a row, the school will host a week-long visit from a mobile science laboratory brought by the Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation.


TES teachers incorporate many environmental science activities into their day, even without TAYA support, to meet curriculum guidelines and provide authentic experiences for the students.  They regularly host visits by Nate Bratko, with the University of Maryland Extension Service, who leads nutrition education programs.  Pickering Creek taught the primary grades about natural vs. man-made landscapes, and 4th and 5th graders will be visiting Annapolis on a Chesapeake Bay Foundation field trip won by Katie Fox as part of her Teacher of the Year experience.

The arts also support the environmental science messages at TES, and TAYA is happy to have the support of the Talbot County Arts Council for these programs.  Local artist Sue Stockman worked with all the kids in the school to design and create gorgeous silk banners reflecting the diversity of island plants, animals, and habitat.  And in May, Drew Anderson from Young Audiences of Maryland will bring his science-themed hip-hop and comedy to the school.

This summer, TAYA will host a week-long summer camp from August 13-17 that will continue to include ways to learn about and enjoy Tilghman Island’s unique location.  For information, contact Ann Farley, TAYA’s Executive Director, at tayadirector@gmail.com or 410-253-0967

Did you know that Tilghman Elementary is accepting out-of-area students for the 2018-19 school year?  Come for a visit and see what our fantastic school has to offer!  Please call the school at 410-886-2391 to schedule a tour and get more information.  Learning about the science and art of the island environment is just the beginning of the great things you will find at Tilghman Elementary.

Vener is Named Principal of St. Michaels Middle High

Talbot County Public Schools has appointed Mrs. Theresa Vener as Principal of St. Michaels Middle High School effective July 1, 2018.  She will replace Mrs. Tracy Elzey, who has been appointed Curriculum Supervisor at the Board of Education for the 2018-2019 school year.

Mrs. Vener is originally from Long Island, New York.  She graduated from State University of New York (SUNY) College at Oswego in May of 1993 with a Bachelor of Science in Education with a concentration in Spanish.  She earned a Master of Science in Supervision and Curriculum with Administration I Certification from Western Maryland College in August of 2000.

Vener began her career teaching Spanish at St. Michaels Middle High School in August 1993.  At that time she also taught some PE/Health classes.  She taught Spanish for 14 years, and was promoted to Assistant Principal at Saint Michaels Middle High in 2007.  She was transferred to Easton High School in 2015 as Assistant Principal and Administrator for the class of 2019.  “Mrs. Vener’s educational background, her years of experience as an Assistant Principal, and her knowledge of the Saint Michaels Middle High community are excellent preparation for her to take on this new challenge,” said Dr. Kelly Griffith, Superintendent of Schools.

Mrs. Vener lives in Easton with her husband Ron and her sons Jack and Max, who both attend Talbot County Public Schools. She has coached field hockey, Easton Little League baseball, and varsity softball.“I am extremely excited for the opportunity to return to the place where I began my educational career.” Mrs. Vener said.  “My three years at Easton High School have given me many important learning opportunities that have helped prepare me for this next step professionally.  I look forward to bringing my enthusiasm and energy back to SMMHS.  I have high expectations for the staff, students and community of SMMHS and working together we can provide the best college and career opportunities for our students.”

Annapolis Plan to Fix Historically Black Colleges in Maryland

Historically black colleges and universities in Maryland would receive up to $56.9 million annually under legislation, sponsors say, that would restore years of underfunding and program duplication by the state but is unlikely to pass.

Proponents of the measure have rejected, as too little, a Feb. 7 offer from Republican Gov. Larry Hogan of a total of $100 million over the next 10 years to a coalition of historically black colleges and universities.

A group of alumni in 2006 sued the state for creating programs at other public institutions that copied and drew students away from similar programs at Maryland’s historically black schools, such as an accelerated MBA program at Morgan State University and a master’s in computer science at Bowie State University.

Efforts to mediate have failed.

In 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Catherine Blake ruled that Maryland violated the constitutional rights of students at the state’s four black institutions by duplicating their programs at traditionally white schools.

In 2015, Blake proposed that the state establish high-demand programs at the four historically black institutions to attract more diverse students and help with desegregation.

In 2016, mediation between the state and the coalition failed. In 2017, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, a Democrat, and Hogan appealed the 2013 decision.

Delegate Nick Mosby, D-Baltimore, said this amount is nowhere near enough for the amount of funding needed for these schools.

The state’s $100 million offer “basically equates to about $2.5 million per institution for the next 10 years and unfortunately that is throwing peanuts at a very gigantic problem,” said Mosby, who is sponsoring the House legislation.

Senate bill sponsor Sen. Joan Carter Conway, D-Baltimore, told Capital News Service this would not be acceptable, because the state owes historically black institutions around $2.5 billion to $3 billion.

Conway also said if the amount had been offered as a lump sum of $100 million, then that could change the situation, but spread over time, the amount seems unjust.

A pair of matched bills was introduced in the Senate on Jan. 30 and in the House on Feb. 8 but no progress has been made since then. Conway is sponsoring Senate bill 252 and Mosby is sponsoring House bill 450.

Similar legislation has been introduced in years past, but was not approved.

Conway also introduced Senate bill 827, paired with a bill from Delegate Charles Sydnor III D- Baltimore County, House bill 1062 — emergency legislation to appoint a special adviser who would develop a remedial plan based on the lawsuit against the state.

Delegate Michael Jackson, D-Calvert and Prince George’s, with House bill 1819 and Sen. Barbara Robinson, D-Baltimore, with Senate bill 615, also introduced paired legislation to establish a cybersecurity program at Coppin State and Morgan State that could not be duplicated by other institutions in the state.

Both bills continue to work their way through the legislative session.

Altogether, these bills would require the state to ensure funding and equity so that the four historically black institutions — Bowie State University, Morgan State University, Coppin State University and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore — are “comparable and competitive” to what are known as the state’s public “traditionally white institutions.”

The Rev. Kobi Little, chairman of the Political Action Committee for the Maryland State Conference of the NAACP, who spoke at the Feb. 8 hearing, said progress in education equity is needed.

“We see this as an education issue but also as an economic justice issue,” Little told lawmakers. “This, my friends, is one of your Martin Luther King moments. It is an opportunity for you to do the right thing.

Conway said she doubted the bills would make progress in the General Assembly.

“This legislature has never been one to do the correct thing for these schools,” Conway told Capital News Service.

Morgan State President David Wilson, who testified at the Senate bill hearing on Jan. 30, said students’ ability to pay is a big issue at his school.

“Lack of financial aid is the greatest barrier to getting students across the finish line in record time,” said Wilson. “Financial aid would alleviate the barrier of students who simply don’t have the money to keep going in college.”

Wilson told Capital News Service that at Morgan State, 90 percent of students receive financial aid and 56 percent qualify for the Pell Grant, a government subsidy that helps students pay for college.

He also said that 36 percent receive the maximum amount from the Pell Grant, which means that families can’t contribute anything to their child’s education.

Wilson also said many students maintain a recurring cycle of dropping out of school to work a semester and then coming back to continue their degree.

Students like Ryan Washington, a senior at Bowie State, told Capital News Service that more money donated to historically black colleges and universities would help students to pursue careers — especially ones that don’t have the same resources as traditionally white institutions.

“More programs, more development on campus and more buildings offering more experience to students,” Washington said.

If the funding legislation passes, schools’ payments would start at $4.9 million for the 2019 fiscal year and increase annually. By the 2022 fiscal year, the four historically black institutions would receive a total of $56.9 million each year. This bill would also establish certain student and faculty ratios.

Former NAACP Political Action Chair Marvin Cheatham Sr. said he is doing everything he can to help pass the bill.

“This has to do with what is in the best interest for students,” he told Capital News Service.

Cheatham also said in his testimony on Feb. 8 that “$100 million doesn’t come close to what’s needed for HBIs.”

“I’ll never, ever stop filing it until it’s rectified,” said Conway, who named the legislation The Blount-Rawlings-Britt HBI Comparability Program Bill in honor of its original creators, former lawmakers Sen. Clarence Blount, D-Baltimore, Delegate Pete Rawlings, D-Baltimore, and Sen. Gwendolyn Britt, D-Prince George’s, who are all deceased.

“I intend to file it every year (until) we fix it.”

Hogan’s office declined to comment outside of his Feb. 7 letter, citing the pending legal matter, a representative told Capital News Service on Friday.

By Layne Litsinger

 

WC Admissions Won’t Penalize High School Students Who Protest Gun Violence

Washington College today joined dozens of colleges and universities around the country to ensure high school students who protest peacefully against gun violence that their admissions status won’t be affected if they are suspended or otherwise disciplined for their actions.

After the tragic killings of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida on February 14, high school students around the country have rallied behind the #NeverAgain movement in an effort to force state and federal lawmakers to pass safer gun laws. Some high schools have suspended or otherwise disciplined students for walking out of class as part of their protest—all at the moment when many high school seniors are seeking admission to college or have already been admitted.

Typically, college admissions officers would look at a disciplinary action like suspension as a mark against a student, but dozens of higher-education institutions, from MIT to Yale and now Washington College, have stated that they will not rescind admissions decisions for these students.

“Washington College was founded on the principles of moral courage, civic engagement, and commitment to action. I applaud these students’ willingness to put their futures in jeopardy in order to stand up for what they believe in,” says Lorna Hunter, Vice President for Enrollment Management. “These are the students who will build upon our strong foundation and carry on the Washington College name for generations to come. We will not penalize them or rescind their admissions status due to any disciplinary action they incur for seizing this moment to peacefully effect change in their world.”

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.

Valcik is Named Principal at Easton Middle School

Talbot County Public Schools has appointed Mrs. Jaclyn Valcik as Principal of Easton Middle School. Valcik has served as Acting Principal since October 2017, replacing Dr. Norby Lee, who officially retired at the end of January.

Mrs. Valcik earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education from Towson University and a Master’s Degree in Administration and Supervision I from Loyola University.  She has Maryland Advanced Professional Certification in Elementary Grades 1 – 8 and Administration & Supervision I and II.  She has served as Assistant Principal at Easton Middle School since 2014.

“Mrs. Valcik has demonstrated outstanding commitment and enthusiasm during this interim period,” said Dr. Kelly Griffith, Superintendent. “She has proven that she has the background and skills to provide strong leadership at Easton Middle School.”

Valcik began her career with Talbot County Public Schools in 2003 as a long-term Substitute at Chapel District Elementary.  She then taught third grade at Easton Elementary – Moton from 2003 to 2007, first grade at Easton Elementary – Dobson in 2007-2008, and sixth grade English/Language Arts at Easton Middle School from 2008 – 2010.  Mrs. Valcik was Talbot County Teacher of the Year for 2010 – 2011.  She was promoted to Assistant Principal at Easton Elementary School in 2010, where she remained until 2014.

“I am elated about this opportunity,” Valcik said. “The past few months have been both exciting and rewarding, and I consider it a privilege to lead this fantastic, dedicated team of educators and serve the Easton Middle School students and their families.”

Mrs. Valcik resides in Easton, Maryland with her wife Amanda and daughters Brynn and Bryce, who both attend Talbot County Public Schools.

Mid-Shore Education: Saints Peter and Paul School Rainforest Turns Nineteen Years Old

It may not be that unusual anymore for school to create a model rainforest as part of an introductory science course but when the Spy learned that the Saints Peter and Paul School rainforest is now going on its 19th year. It got our attention pretty quickly.

Ever since Lisa Morrell started to teach elementary science at the Catholic day school in Easton, the annual building of the rainforest has been one of the great traditions at a  school that already has a significant number of them. In fact, it’s safe to say that while only a handful of students create the rainforest every year, it’s also true that literally, every student at Peter and Paul’s lower school will walk through as well.

The Spy caught up with Lisa and a few of her students this week just before the rainforest was to be dismantled and stored while it waits for its 20th anniversary next year.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For more information about Saints Peter and Paul School please go here

Good Stuff: The Country School to Receive $250,000 Grant from Zaffere Foundation

The Country School received a generous contribution this week from the Philip A. Zaffere Foundation to establish a scholarship fund for children of significant need. Mr. Zaffere, a Federalsburg native and owner of Zaffere’s Bakery, which became Shoreman Food Technologies, passed away in January of 2016 and left a legacy built on lifelong learning, a love of animals and nature, and a deep commitment to his family and friends. His foundation gifted The Country School $100,000 and will contribute an additional $150,000 within the next 5 years.

The fund will be invested to produce income to be used toward tuition for a child who has demonstrated significant need and who exhibits the same qualities possessed by Mr. Zaffere: a deep curiosity for the sciences, a natural creativity, and an appreciation for the wonders of nature. This award will also recognize the value of diversity of all kinds.

Realizing that his small family bakery could survive only by creating new products and innovative baking processes, Zaffere began experimenting with making a crumb product. He developed and refined the formula, and designed ovens and other equipment to produce a consistently high quality product, which General Foods used in Stove Top stuffing mix. At one time the Federalsburg plant was producing all the crumb for Stove Top as well as breading for Mrs. Paul’s frozen products. One newspaper article dubbed him the “Crumb King.”

Family members and friends remember him as a shrewd businessman who also possessed a playful, mischievous quality. A loyal, compassionate, and generous friend, Zaffere recognized and cared about the needs of others, and worked quietly to meet them however he could. He faithfully visited friends and family who were ill or shut-ins, and even put his college career on hold to take over the family bakery when his father died.

Although the sale of his business left him with significant assets that enabled him to establish his foundation, Mr. Zaffere never lost touch with the ethic of hard work, determination, and persistence developed in his youth. As one whose own college education was never completed, but whose curiosity and thirst for information never ended, he valued education and fine schools highly. It is with these tenets in mind that the Philip A. Zaffere Scholarship Fund was born at The Country School. Zaffere’s nephew, John Orban, was the director of technology for 15 years; John’s wife, Cindy, is the school’s librarian and diversity director. Their sons are alumni of The Country School, as are John’s two sisters.

“Although Uncle Philip never had children of his own, he was deeply interested in quality education for all children. With this scholarship fund, families who share his commitment to education but whose significant need could not be met through standard financial aid, will

be able to make a Country School education possible for their children. I can imagine nothing which would please him more.”