Character Counted: Jack Gill, Talbot County Public Schools, and the U.S. Naval Academy

Test scores and other metrics can and should be used to evaluate the success of a public education, but what those measurements will never be able to statistically record is the development of personal character with its graduates.

Hard to quantify, and fostered from many sources like families and mentors, one’s character, much more than testing above state averages in math or science, is the one essential quality that will make the difference in having a successful life. Unfortunately, there is no standard test to measure such a thing.

All one can go by is anecdotal evidence that a young person has not only developed a sense of self that can project confidence but the mindset to persevere when things go wrong.

That is why the Spy was so interested in hearing about St. Michaels High School’s Jack Gill and his lifelong dream of attending the United States Naval Academy. While Jack’s story eventually turns out well, he was tested in a way where only a strong character can remain resilient.

Valedictorian, class president, athlete, countless with hours of volunteer work, and the blessings of Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen and the 1st District’s Andy Harris, Jack had been on a two-year campaign to win an appointment to Annapolis. While he applied to a few safety schools, things were looking exceptionally positive as he waited out the arrival of news from the Naval Academy.

And, at last, he did get that notice, but it wasn’t the news he sought. The words “waitlisted” flew off the official correspondence which Jack immediately knew meant that he had about a one percent change of ever securing an appointment to the academy.

In the face of such a severe blow, when it would be more typical to retreat into depression or readjust personal goals, Jack continued to keep the fight going.

The Spy would submit that Jack’s story, as told in our interview with him at Bullitt House, is part of that anecdotal evidence that Talbot County Public Schools is producing some remarkable results.

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. 

English Major Caroline Harvey Wins Washington College 2018 Sophie Kerr Prize

Caroline Harvey, an English major and creative writing minor from Arlington, Virginia, whose writing frequently examines otherness through the perspective of the insect world, has won the 2018 Sophie Kerr Prize. National Public Radio book critic and author Maureen Corrigan announced the winner of the nation’s largest undergraduate prize, this year valued at $63,711, at Washington College this evening.

Harvey, who served as editor-in-chief of The Collegian and managing editor of the Washington College Review, submitted a portfolio that included poetry, nonfiction, and academic scholarship from her thesis, entitled “Poetics of Otherness: The Marginalized Experience Through the Insect Lens.” She attributes her fascination with the insect world to her early reading of Jurassic Park, which propelled her interest in connecting science and writing.

“Caroline’s work is gorgeously detailed and specific. As a poet and academic writer, she takes as her subject matter things that others may find distasteful and difficult and finds the beauty in them. As an editor, she has worked to facilitate of the writing of others and to build a dynamic and supportive literary community on campus,” says Professor Kathryn Moncrief, Chair of the English department and Sophie Kerr Curator.

“I had the distinct pleasure of directing Caroline’s thesis, which incorporated complex literary and identity theory with contemporary poetry in order to posit that Otherness can be owned and deployed in subversive and empowering ways,” says James Hall, Director of the Rose O’Neill Literary House. “Her own poems find new metaphors to think in striking ways about gender, faith, and representation. Caroline uses traditional forms like sonnets and villanelles to subvert patriarchal assumptions about who has the right to speak. Reading Caroline Harvey’s work, I’m reminded of what Wallace Stevens said about how every poet has to reinvent the language for herself.”

At the announcement, Harvey thanked her family, friends, staff of the Rose O’Neill Literary House, and her professors, especially James Allen Hall, from whom she took her first undergraduate class and who advised her senior thesis. She also thanked her former professor, Jeanne Dubrow.

“She was the first person to sit me down and call me ‘poet,’ and that was so important,” Harvey said. “And finally, I have to thank my cohort. Everyone I grew up with in this community, everyone who wrote with me, who read with me, and especially Rhea, and Brooke, and Mallory, and Casey [fellow Sophie Kerr Prize finalists], all of whom came together in this moment. There’s so much about this place that I love, and so much I would like to change. But the one thing that I hold on to at all times is the people—the wonderful people who helped me get where I am.”

A member of Omicron Delta Kappa, the leadership honor society, and Sigma Tau Delta, the English honor society, Harvey plans to take a gap year before pursuing an MFA in poetry and a PhD in English.

Harvey was among five finalists chosen from a number of student portfolios, encompassing essay, poetry, non-fiction, journalism, academic scholarship, and print projects. Although the Sophie Kerr Prize is not limited to English majors, this year’s finalists were all majors in English with one who double majored in political science. Several were creative writing minors, and all represented multiple honors societies and campus leadership activities. Several have worked on College publications including the student newspaper, The Elm, the student review, The Collegian, and Cherry Tree, the College’s national literary journal.

“It is always a privilege to read these portfolios. They illuminate the best of the literary culture and the commitment to writing that is the heart and soul of this College,” Moncrief says. “These students and their outstanding work highlight their diverse interests and approaches, their promise in the field of literary endeavor, their dedication to craft, and their shared passion for the written word.”

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.

Introducing Chesapeake College’s Sixth President Cliff Coppersmith

While Cliff Coppersmith has yet to move into his office in Wye Mills to begin his tenure as the sixth president of Chesapeake College, that didn’t stop the Spy from finding time with him for a quick chat on campus yesterday.

Dr. Coppersmith, who will officially assume his role in May, was in town briefly to meet with his future colleagues and pin down the logistics of moving from Montana, where he is currently serving as the dean and CEO of City College, the community college branch of Montana State University.

Coppersmith comes from a particularly unique background in community college teaching and administration, starting when he, himself, graduated as a young man from a community college in upper-state New York. Over the course of his career, he has spent nineteen years with the Pennsylvania College of Technology, a special mission affiliate of The Pennsylvania State University; and Utah State University – Eastern, formerly the College of Eastern Utah.

The Spy caught up with Dr. Coppersmith at Chesapeake College’s new Health Professions and Athletics Center to talk about his experiences in higher education, some of his priorities for Chesapeake College, and his excitement in returning to the East Coast to take on the vital task leading the Mid-Shore’s community college into a new decade of service.

This video is approximately five minutes in length. For more information about Chesapeake College, please go here

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

 

Hogan’s Nonpublic schools funding gets ‘BOOST’ from Students

Hundreds of private school students, faculty, parents and supporters piled onto Lawyers Mall in Annapolis on Tuesday for a rally to support Gov. Larry Hogan’s funding for nonpublic schools.

Hogan, legislators and education administrators spoke at the event, put together by the Maryland Council for American Private Education to support the Broadening Options and Opportunities for Students Today program, known by its acronym, “BOOST.”

Cheered on by the many speakers, including Hogan, the crowd chanted “give a boost to BOOST” and “support all kids” throughout the rally.

The BOOST program “provides scholarships for some students who are eligible for the free or reduced-price lunch program to attend eligible nonpublic schools.”

Hogan told the crowd he himself attended private Catholic schools.

“It’s really important that you’re here,” Hogan, a Republican, told the crowd. “We’ve got some legislators across the street in the State House that need to hear from you and I want to make sure you guys are ready to make some noise.”

Among the schools with students and faculty present was St. Francis International School of Silver Spring and Hyattsville, Maryland.

The school’s principal, Tobias Harkleroad, told Capital News Service his fifth graders came to Annapolis to make sure government officials knew they were thankful for support.

They also went to the rally to learn about the political process and make their voices heard.

“We want to make sure that kids like them in nonpublic schools across the state are just as important to our elected officials as the wonderful children in our public schools,” Harkleroad said.

Marianne Schwenz is the mother of an eighth grader at St. Joseph’s Regional Catholic School in Beltsville, Maryland.

Schwenz said the potential funding provided by BOOST would particularly help grow special needs programs, especially in Catholic schools, where she feels there isn’t enough staffing to address the needs of some students.

However, she’s happy with how legislators have responded to the nonpublic school needs over time.

Hogan’s budget, approved by state lawmakers, has increased in each of the past three years funds directed toward the BOOST program. An appropriation of $5 million in fiscal year 2017 was followed by a $5.5 appropriation the following year. Hogan’s proposal for fiscal year 2019 climbs up to $8.85 million. That budget remains under review by the legislature.

“I think (the funding) does definitely need to continue to grow, although I do think our voice is being heard a little more each year,” Schwenz said.

Other supporters included Delegates Shelly Hettleman, D-Baltimore County, and Dana Stein, D-Baltimore County. Representatives from the Archdiocese of Washington and Baltimore Catholic schools also spoke, along with Maryland State Board of Education member, pastor Michael Phillips.

“Today, this is where all of you who attend wonderful nonpublic schools are going to go make sure that we protect our funding and our scholarships,” Hogan said.

Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy conducted a survey of 625 Maryland voters between Feb. 20 and Feb. 22 that found nearly two-thirds supported an increase in funding for the BOOST program. The poll also concluded 58 percent of voters surveyed would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supports increasing the BOOST program.

“The facts are that since taking office, Governor Hogan has committed record K-12 education funding in his four budgets, totaling $25 billion,” Eric Shirk, spokesman for the state’s Department of Budget & Management wrote in an email. This includes $6.5 billion in the proposed 2019 fiscal year budget.

But Maryland State Education Association President Betty Weller disagreed with Hogan’s use of funds in a Jan. 17 statement.

“Another year, another Gov. Hogan budget that follows the policy priorities of Betsy DeVos rather than Marylanders,” Weller said, citing the U.S. education secretary, an advocate of charter schools and private school vouchers.

Weller said Hogan should not be funding a voucher program that “overwhelmingly benefits” students in private schools.

By Sean Whooley

Making the Case to Save Tilghman Island Elementary School

It is typically the sad case these days that small, underpopulated elementary public schools are frequently being closed by their school districts.

Through the gut-wrenching process of what is now called “school consolidation,” these districts are faced with the terrible task of closing down these cherished local assets as a result of dwindling student enrollments and the financial consequences that come with those lower numbers.

This trend may be the fate of Tilghman Island’s only elementary school, which has a capacity of 150 students but currently has only 62 children in attendance. While the Talbot County Public Schools District has not made any decision on TES yet, there was a clear warning given that the Tilghman school would either need to increase its enrollment or undoubtedly face closure down the road.

That’s a hard thing to do for a community that is thirteen miles from the nearly town.

But before that fateful decision is made, the citizens of Tilghman, the teachers and parents of the elementary school, and the active role played by the Tilghman Community Youth Association is going to make damn sure that doesn’t happen.

And one of those remarkable people leading this fight could not be better prepared to do so than volunteer Jay Shotel.

With his long tenure as a professor at George Washington University in the field of education, Jay is extraordinarily in his comfort role as he takes on the role of advocate, cheerleader, and admissions counselor to make sure that Tilghman’s elementary school not only continues to exist but eventually becomes one of most unique schools in the state.

We talked to Jay a few weeks ago at Bullitt House to understand more what Jay and his colleagues of the Tilghman School Facility Utilization Committee are doing find new students to fill those desks.

This video is approximately six minutes in length. For more information on saving Tilghman School please go here