Erin Crooks of Georgetown Middle School has been named the 2017 Delaware School Counselor of the Year.
The award was given on April 10 by the Delaware School Counselor Association during its annual spring conference. Prior to winning the overall state award, Crooks was named Middle School Counselor of the Year by the DSCA in February.
Crooks came to Georgetown Middle School as a school counselor in 2009 after spending the previous two years as a counselor at Georgetown Elementary School. She is a member of Georgetown Middle’s Instructional Leadership Team and is the school’s AVID site team coordinator. One of her priorities during the past nine years has been taking GMS students on visits to college campuses. During that time, she has accompanied more than 350 students on visits to the University of Delaware, Delaware State University, Morgan State University, Delaware Technical & Community College, Rutgers University and the University of Maryland.
Crooks is co-chair of the Sussex County Inter-Agency Council for Children and Families and a middle school representative for the Delaware Goes to College Advisory Council. She also served as an adjunct professor at Wilmington University in 2015-2016.
This is the second consecutive year, and third overall, that an Indian River School District counselor has won the state award. Other state winners were Cheryl Carey in 2016 and Lisa Hunt in 2005. It is also the fourth consecutive year that an IRSD counselor has won either the elementary or middle school Counselor of the Year award. Other district winners were Carey (2016 and 2007), Jan Bomhardt (2015), Cathy Showell (2014), Dawn Brasure (2009) and Hunt (2005).
Homeschooling gives families the freedom to better control their kids’ education. But they can lack some musical experiences, such as chorus and band lessons. So, starting this fall, longtime high school music teacher Mark Marvel will offer private daytime music lessons to individual students.
Phillip C. Showell Elementary School art teacher Laurie Hall didn’t always want to teach art.
“I went through a medical-thriller book phase” as a teen, she said. “I wanted to be an epidemiologist.”
She also had a fondness for art. however, and “I always loved my elementary school art teachers. I always used to play school, too.”
And in her junior year in high school, Hall said, “something just clicked.” She majored in elementary education at Frostburg State University and followed that with a master’s degree at George Mason University in “initiatives in educational transformations,” which involved work on bringing visiting artists to schools on Delmarva.
Hall is the 2017 Teacher of the Year for Phillip Showell. She has been at the Selbyville elementary school for five years. During that time, she spent two years without a classroom of her own, pushing her “art cart” from room to room throughout the day.
“It was actually a really good thing for me. It made me be really organized!” she said. Now, however, Hall has her own room, the walls of which are brimming with recent student work.
She is also certified as a special-education teacher and spends part of each week “pushing in” to special-education classrooms. While her work as the school’s art teacher allows her to work with every student in the school each week, she said she also enjoys her special-education classwork, in which she works one-on-one with students or with small groups.
When 14-year-old Lindsey Espinoza signed up for the fire-cadet class at Millsboro Middle School, who would have guessed she’d be saving her little sister just a few months later?
The Roxana Volunteer Fire Company started the fire-cadet class in autumn to introduce students to lifesaving skills and community service.
“Towards the beginning of the school year, we taught basic first-aid, puncture wounds, choking and hands-only CPR,” said RVFC Fire Chief Chris Uibel. “Little did we know that within two months, Lindsey would save her sister from choking.”
“She was at home, watching her 4-year-old sister. Her sister began to choke on a toy. Lindsey was able to quickly react, knowing everything that she had learned from our program. Through her lifesaving measure, she was able to help her sister from choking.”
Three Indian River High School seniors have taken the lead on designing a new playground at Georgetown Elementary School.
When the elementary school’s occupational therapist, Sara Heinicke, wanted to add more accessible playground equipment, she enlisted IRHS students to create one piece. When the budget blossomed with several local donors, the project expanded to a full remodel.
Almost two decades ago, Kathleen Kisela started working toward an important goal in her life — becoming a nurse.
At the time, although her children were small, Kisela believed she could juggle the demands of family with those of nursing school at Delaware Technical Community College in Georgetown. She found, however, that it was just too much, at the time.
“It was pretty stressful,” she said. “So I couldn’t finish what I started.”
For years, the Milton resident felt as if she just would not be able to achieve that goal.
Indian River High School recently announced its honor roll students for the second marking period of the 2016-2017 school year. Students receiving High Honors were:
Three teams of Indian River School District students qualified for the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals with second-place finishes at the state competition on March 25 at Alfred G. Waters Middle School in Middletown.
Live music is a hallmark of Indian River High School productions, and the students are ready to impress once again.
This year’s musical revue is IR Live! presents “The Corner Club on Baker Street,” featuring an original script by music director Nathan Mohler and student T.J. Oxbrough.
Performances are Friday and Saturday, March 24 and 25, at 6:30 p.m. Tickets cost $5 per person.
Although many kids have help and support from family and friends growing up, sometimes extra support can be key. That’s where mentoring can play a big role in a child’s life.
The Indian River School District participates in the Creative Mentoring Program, in which 299 students are active participants.
Lord Baltimore Elementary School Counselor Theresa O’Shields said the program really benefits young people in a positive way.
“It is really good for them. It’s gotten them out of their shy spells. Kids who have a lot of energy, or kids who don’t have a good male or female role model,” she said. “The teachers here are good, and they’re so flexible. They know it’s important for the child’s growth. They are wonderful people here.”
Entries sought for Jim Cresson Memorial Fund Scholarship
Applications are currently being accepted for the Jim Cresson Memorial Fund scholarship, administered by the Greater Lewes Foundation.
Inclusion key to student success for special-needs education ‘Dream Team’ at IR
It’s 8 a.m. at Indian River High School. The bells have rung. The morning announcements have been made. And the River Café is officially open for business.
Today, on the menu: coffee, tea and complimentary homemade cupcakes with green icing, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.
Senior Josh Timmons makes his way down the school’s history-lined hallways in his official green-and-gold River Café apron, pushing his cart, without paying much attention to the cart’s one stubborn wheel, wielding the day’s orders and approaching his first stop.
This is the final task for the River Café each Tuesday and Thursday morning — and Josh’s favorite. He greets each customer with their own personalized order, makes the sale, stamps frequent-customer cards and, of course, tops it all off with his signature Timmons’ touch — whether it be in the form of inside joke, friendly pat on the shoulder or well-timed smile.
There is something to live and aspire for, said the man from Philadelphia. You just have to be ready when that opportunity comes.
He calls himself “Principal El,” and his mission is to motivate, invigorate and inspire students and teachers across the country. The teacher, principal and motivational speaker Salome Thomas-El brought words of wisdom (and a few laughs) to Indian River High School and Selbyville Middle School on March 2.
“You get a blessing and use it to help others. ... It comes back to you,” he said. Doing good in one area might tip the scales toward another good opportunity, such as a job interview or scholarship.
Similarly, “The way you treat people, that will come back to you,” said Thomas-El. “You can say what you want, you can do what you want, but the way you make people feel is what they’ll remember about you.”
The meeting place seemed appropriate.
After all, college professor Steve Shaner wanted to thank someone who had opened up his eyes to the power of words.
And so it was that Shaner, 62, walked into the Frankford Public Library on Tuesday, March 7, and got to thank his eighth-grade English teacher.
He had not seen Dorothy Fisch, who now lives in Ocean View, since he finished eighth grade back in 1968. After all that time, his search for Fisch was started by remarks by a colleague who encouraged students and staff at Harding University, in Searcy, Ark., where Shaner is employed as an assistant professor of mass communication, to reach out to someone who had made a difference in their lives, and to thank them.
“Above and beyond” were the words most frequently used to describe 17 individuals who were named Special Education Ambassadors this week.
The Indian River School District honored educators who serve as role models for their colleagues while promoting a positive message of inclusiveness for students with disabilities.
“Ambassadors will be those who clearly support a mission to allow students identified with disabilities to become emotionally, socially and academically successful learners ready to fulfill their lifelong goals,” according to IRSD officials.
“[These are] folks in our schools who really make it possible for our students to achieve their goals,” said IRSD Board Member Heather Statler.
Grade-school memories follow people through life, for better or worse. And, although the old Richard Allen School was born of segregation, people are being inspired today to transform it into a community and cultural center in Georgetown.
“When Richard Allen opened its door [in the 1920s], it was a beacon of hope for African-Americans living in Sussex County,” according to the Richard Allen Coalition. “When it reopens next year, it will welcome all of us who want to learn about the past while helping our youth explore their talents and prepare for a wonderful future.”
The non-profit Richard Allen Coalition wants to restore the school’s legacy as an educational and community center. Physically, the old building won’t just become a museum to freeze history, but a community center to breathe life into the town.
Lord Baltimore Elementary School students were able to do something a little unorthodox last week, as students were able to duct tape Assistant Principal Matthew Keller to a wall.
The students had participated in “Penny Wars” for two weeks to help raise funds for a new school sign.
“We had the grade levels compete against each other to bring in change — pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters. Some students even brought in bills,” said Jennifer Lovellette, president of the school’s PTO. “Each cent was worth one point... The grade level that brought in the most money won the Penny Wars.”
The students raised a little more than $2,800, which Lovellette said was likely driven by the prize the winning grade would receive.
“They were able to duct tape the assistant principal, Mr. Keller, to the wall, which was fantastic.”
The first grade won the Penny Wars, and Keller, being a good sport, spent his afternoon taped to a wall.
“It was such a great event,” said Lovellette. “He was taped to a wall in the cafeteria. We had mats stacked up, so he was able to stand on the mats and then the PTO officers started by putting a couple of larger pieces of tape around him, just to start it, just to make sure he was secure to the wall. We had fun, different duct tapes — Gummie Bears, Minions — cut into pieces.
PCS students wear their kindness proudly
Kindness can be like a rock in water. One good deed can ripple outward to distant shores.
Phillip C. Showell Elementary School celebrated January as Kindness Month by encouraging children to be kind and witness kindness in their lives.
With handmade Kindness Bracelets, students can now count and remember random acts of kindness each day.
“As they witness, give or receive an act of kindness through the day, they’ll move a charm,” said Laurie Hall, teacher of art and special education at the school. Hopefully, later, at home, “they talk about what they’ve done to move them.”
The bracelets are threaded so that people can slide the 10 beads deliberately, without them slipping backward again.
Children across the land have been preparing for the upcoming slate of holiday concerts almost as diligently as they’ve worked on their lists for Santa. Horns are tooting, drummers are drumming and singers are tuning their pipes in anticipation of the chance to shine in front of their families and friends and spread some holiday cheer while they’re at it.
At the G.W. Carver Center in Frankford on Nov. 18, the APELL (Advancing Proficiency of English Language Learners) staff was thankful for community.
With local residents coming together to not only donate, but volunteer, that’s how they were able to put on their second annual Thanksgiving feast for immigrant students, introducing most of them to their first traditional Thanksgiving with a celebratory feast.
“I think it was wonderful to see so many people involved with trying to make the kids have a welcoming first Thanksgiving in our country,” said Lori Ott, who teaches English and serves as the program’s unofficial “lead teacher” after 22 years in the district.
“The students really appreciated it, and I think the volunteers really enjoyed getting to meet the students. Even though there were language barriers, you could still see them communicating.”
“Our veterans are very special to us. We pray our program shows them how much we care,” said second-grader Megan Brining, who opened Lighthouse Christian School’s (LCS) annual Veterans Day program with a prayer.
The program, held on Nov. 18, featured a presentation of the colors, the “Pledge of Allegiance” and seventh-grader Izzy Donihue singing “The Star Spangled Banner,” and focused on honoring all branches of the military services.
Eighth-grader Danny Williams introduced Airman 1st class Rudy Viguie, who served as F-86 crew chief in the U.S. Air Force, noting the branch was created in 1947, after President Truman signed the National Security Act.
“What did the Air Force do to me as an individual?” said Viguie. “In 1952, I was a 16-year-old kid growing up on the streets of New York City, totally unsupervised. I came from a single-parent home, basically did what I wanted. I don’t know how I stayed out of trouble.
This Friday, the students of Lighthouse Christian School will be hosting a special tribute to all the branches of the military and thanking veterans for their service to the country.
“It’s a labor of love. I just love it,” said Pat Viguie, who works at the school and has been coordinating the event for nine years.
The program will be held on Friday, Nov. 18, from 1:30 to 3 p.m. at the Dagsboro Church of God. The program will feature children showing their love of country and freedom, while also expressing their appreciation for the men and women who have served and are serving in the military.
“They are trying to pay back in their own way — whether it be with songs or poems or a letter of thanks — just to let them know how much we love them, we appreciate them, and that we know without them we could not have the freedoms that exist in this great land.”
Any book will do. When Nichele Lobo invites special guests to read to her third-grade classroom, she doesn’t care which book they choose.
“If you’re reading something you enjoy … [you’ll] bring it to life,” said Lobo, a teacher at Southern Delaware School of the Arts.
Because students didn’t have school in mid-November, Lobo’s class celebrated National Young Readers Week a week early. That meant a week’s worth of special guests, sharing new stories with both third-grade classes.
Guests bring a book that is special to themselves or their own children. The students connect the stories to their own lives and classroom lessons.
One lucky person could be driving a brand-new 2017 Toyota Camry this December, as the Sussex Technical High School Band Program is now selling tickets for the raffle of a vehicle donated by Hertrich Toyota of Milford.
“I give all the credit to the parents,” said Band Director Ian Kenney of the Ravens Music Boosters, who have organized the raffle. “We have one band parent who knew somebody up at Hertrich in Milford and was able to say, ‘Hey, this band is taking a big trip and it’s costing them $1,600 per student. Any help you can give us would be appreciated.’ They ended up saying, ‘Well, we can give you a monetary donation, or we can get you a car to try to sell tickets to raffle off.’”
This is the first new-car raffle the band has done, said Kenney, noting that in a previous year there had been a used-car raffle.
Tickets cost $100 each and can be purchased online, by mail, during Sussex Tech home football games and at the band’s winter concert, while supplies last. Only 750 tickets are available for the raffle. The car is valued at up to $21,000.
A Lighthouse Christian Middle School sixth-grader has been granted a special exception from the Dagsboro school’s dress code for the last year. Dillon Polly, 11, of Laurel, has spent the last year growing out his blond hair to donate to a wig-making charity for children.
For one week this summer, Drew Szlasa was flying airplanes, or controlling them from an aircraft carrier ship.
But this Selbyville Middle School eighth-grader wasn’t really up the air or at sea. She was in an immersive National Flight Academy summer camp, with hints of virtual reality, at Pensacola, Fla.
The whole building was designed to look and feel like a ship. Even the dorms were laid out like an aircraft carrier.
There were two teams — those flying the aircraft, plus the mission control team helping the aircraft navigate.
“They had these flight simulators where they taught you how to fly it,” said Szlasa. “There was this place called the JIC [Joint Intelligence Center] where you told the planes where to go.”
When flying, the plane started on the actual boat, “and then you take off from there,” she said. “The aircraft was really fun. … It was laid out like an actual airplane. It would be just you and a co-pilot.”
Every day at the flight simulator, campers sat in front of screens, maps and diagrams to complete the mission.
Life has changed since Gov. Jack Markell graduated from Newark High School in 1978. Back then, he said, people could get a decent job immediately after high school.
Nowadays, to find a job “that’s going to allow you to pay the kind of life you probably want to lead, you’re going to have to pursue additional training after high school,” Markell told Indian River High School seniors this week. “That doesn’t mean you have to start immediately after high school. But in order to advance, you’re really going to have to continue to invest in your education.”
Markell isn’t saying everyone needs a two- or four-year degree.
But the State of Delaware has invested in post-secondary training, and students should, too, Markell told the IRHS senior class on Sept. 20.
His visit was part of Delaware Department of Education’s third annual senior class tour, which supports students in transitioning from high school to college and career.
The Delaware State Police Explorers program consists of young men and women who have an interest in law enforcement.
This past spring, Indian River High School students collectively took 152 Advanced Placement exams. They blew those exams out of the water, earning “qualifying scores” on 76 percent of those exams, far exceeding the national average of 57 percent. They also won about two dozen scholar awards.
Patricia Dailey-Lewis, who heads the Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children, recalls the moment the foundation was born.