Indian River School District

Parents ready to fight for Spanish Immersion

[Editor's Note: This article was amended May 19 to reflect the addition of "Spanish Immersion" to the school board's May 22 meeting agenda.]

Teachers, secretaries change contracts to help IRSD

More than 900 IRSD staff impacted

Some Indian River School District staff won’t make as much money this year as they were originally entitled to. They’ve reduced their next three years of raises to help the district deal with budget shortfalls and impending state budget cuts.

PCS students painting for the stars

Coastal Point photos • Submitted: Jeremy Hill, Madelyn Clattenburg and Everett Hall enjoy painting their bees on the nose cone.Coastal Point photos • Submitted: Jeremy Hill, Madelyn Clattenburg and Everett Hall enjoy painting their bees on the nose cone.Local elementary-school students’ artwork could someday be described as “out of this world,” as first-graders at Phillip C. Showell Elementary School were invited in April to paint the top of a sounding rocket. Around 4 feet tall, the nose cone would be attached to the top of a small rocket that carries experiments into the atmosphere, collects data and falls back to earth within 30 minutes.

According to art teacher Laurie Hall, a Selbyville resident who judged the school science fair also works at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Soon after the fair, he invited the first-grade students to help paint a nose cone.

Each PCS student painted a bumblebee on the hive-shaped metal chunk.

Bees have become a school mascot, encouraging students to “Bee responsible, bee respectful, bee positive, bee safe.”

“There can be so many great partnerships formed,” Hall said. “Everybody in the community has something to give or share. You never know who’s living here and what they can bring to the students and the school … [to] help enrich their education.”

Will the hand-painted creation find its place among the stars? Maybe. Even Wallops personnel can’t guarantee it’ll actually be used for a mission.

Richardson wins IRSD Teacher of the Year award

A love of reading at core of specialist’s work to help students

Coastal Point • Laura Walter: The 2017-2018 Indian River School District Teachers of the Year pose in the Indian River High School auditorium.Coastal Point • Laura Walter: The 2017-2018 Indian River School District Teachers of the Year pose in the Indian River High School auditorium.“I love to read,” said Lisa Richardson, reading intervention specialist at Millsboro Middle School.

Richardson is the 2017-2018 Teacher of the Year for the Indian River School District. Her win was announced at a dinner on Wednesday, April 29.

Not only does Richardson treasure the worlds that can open through books, but she also has a keen understand of the impact the ability to read has on everyday life.

Richardson’ students come to her needing help meeting reading requirements. The main challenge of her job, she said, is “helping them catch up so they can be successful in their core classes.” If a students is struggling to read, she said, everything else in school becomes a struggle as well.

IRSD celebrates Teachers of the Year

Coastal Point • Laura Walter: The 2017-2018 Indian River School District Teachers of the Year pose in the Indian River High School auditorium.Coastal Point • Laura Walter: The 2017-2018 Indian River School District Teachers of the Year pose in the Indian River High School auditorium.Hundreds of teachers have made the Indian River School District a leader in education. On April 26, the IRSD honored the best of the best, their Teachers of the Year for 2017-2018.

In a surprise announcement, Millsboro Middle School reading teacher Lisa Richardson received top honors as IRSD Teacher of the Year.

“Her story is in many ways the story of the Indian River School District. She is product our school district who returned to give back, and has done that in many capacities and done it well. Both inside and outside the classroom, she is and has been a role model for others,” stated Gary Brittingham, former principal and assistant superintendent.

As the district’s Teacher of the Year, she is now eligible for the state Teacher of the Year Award, which will be announced in October.

Murray stepping away from IRHS for family

After four years, Bennett Murray has announced that he will leave the position of Indian River High School principal.

Starting this autumn, he’ll be assigned as an assistant principal in the district, spending half his time at Georgetown Elementary School and half at the Howard T. Ennis School.

IRSD unions to vote on new contracts

When the Indian River School District went to referendum in March, administrators said one potential way to save money was to renegotiate staff contracts.

More recently, within the Indian River Education Association, the teachers and the secretaries have given the go-ahead to renegotiate contracts, potentially spreading next year’s planned pay raise over the next few years instead.

Crooks named Delaware School Counselor of the Year

Coastal Point • Submitted: Erin Crooks of Georgetown Middle School was recently named 2017 Delaware School Counselor of the Year.Coastal Point • Submitted: Erin Crooks of Georgetown Middle School was recently named 2017 Delaware School Counselor of the Year.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).

School board approves $2.4M in budget cuts

The Indian River School District is making budget reductions, from administrative positions down to performing arts.

The board of education has begun voting on budget cuts for the 2018 fiscal year. Although the official budget won’t be approved until June, they’ve begun planning.

‘Let the journey begin’

Arlett, Martin ready to ship off to Naval Academy after making IR history

Coastal Point • Tripp Colonell: Indian River High Schools seniors George Martin, left, and Jared Arlett, announced their official appointments to the United States Naval Academy at IR on Thursday.Coastal Point • Tripp Colonell: Indian River High Schools seniors George Martin, left, and Jared Arlett, announced their official appointments to the United States Naval Academy at IR on Thursday.After moving to Delaware from Severna Park, Md., in the sixth grade, George Martin walked into Mrs. O’Shields’ sixth-grade science class on his first day at Selbyville Middle School, not knowing anyone, and sat down next to a young baseball-player-turned-wrestler by the name of Jared Arlett.

Little did either Martin or Arlett know then that their first conversation that day would end up being first of many more just like it, and one that would end up foreshadowing both of their hopeful futures.

“We were talking, and I asked him where he was from. At the time, I had no idea where Severna Park was,” Arlett recalled with a laugh. “He told me it was right outside of Annapolis, and I said, ‘Oh, that’s right by the Naval Academy. I think I kind of want to go there.’”

“Yeah. I think I kind of want to go there, too,” is how Martin had answered.

Hall draws outside the lines as Showell Teacher of the Year

Coastal Point • Kerin Magill: Phillip C. Showell Elementary School art teacher Laurie Hall recently received recognition as the school’s 2017 Teacher of the Year.Coastal Point • Kerin Magill: Phillip C. Showell Elementary School art teacher Laurie Hall recently received recognition as the school’s 2017 Teacher of the Year.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.

Applications being accepted for IRSD budget oversight committee

Wanted: People who know numbers.

As promised, Indian River School District is seeking in-depth public input on district finances. The IRSD is now accepting applications for the new Citizens Budget Oversight Committee.

Volunteers will be specially trained to understand, review and contribute to regular discussions on IRSD budgets.

IRSD approves energy audit for all schools

With a goal of conserving energy, the Indian River School District will invest in an energy audit with Trane USA Inc. through the Delaware Sustainable Energy Utility.

The audit will include every district school and cost a minimum of $71,500.

SMS Robotics Team wins at states, headed to world competition

Coastal Point photo • Submitted : The winning teams and their teachers include, from left, Kaitlyn Johnson, teacher Tommie Morrison, Evan Carpenter, Kendall Coleman, Ann Weaver, Kevin Reid, Chris Sichina and teacher Jon Casto.Coastal Point photo • Submitted : The winning teams and their teachers include, from left, Kaitlyn Johnson, teacher Tommie Morrison, Evan Carpenter, Kendall Coleman, Ann Weaver, Kevin Reid, Chris Sichina and teacher Jon Casto.In an all-day event on Saturday, Feb. 11, the Selbyville Middle School Robotics Team competed at the Delaware state championship in the VEX Robotics Competition.

Presented by the Robotics Education & Competition Foundation, the VEX Robotics Competition is the largest and fastest-growing middle school and high school robotics program, involving more than 16,000 teams from 40 countries playing in more than 1,350 competitions worldwide.

Each year, an engineering challenge is presented in the form of a game. Students, with guidance from their teachers and mentors, build innovative robots and compete year-round in a variety of matches.

In this year’s event, three teams represented Selbyville Middle School. The team of Kendall Coleman, Kaitlyn Johnson and Evan Carpenter received the Excellence Award, qualifying them to go to VEX World Competition in Louisville, Ky., over spring break. The team of Ann Weaver, Kevin Reid and Oriana Peterson were First Place Tournament Champions, while the team of Chris Sichina, Slone Hoban and Fritz Winkler placed sixth.

It’s official: Steele permanently at the helm of IRSD

Coastal Point • Laura Walter: Mark Steele is now the full-time superintendent of the Indian River School District.Coastal Point • Laura Walter: Mark Steele is now the full-time superintendent of the Indian River School District.It was a unanimous vote this week as Mark Steele was officially hired as the superintendent of the Indian River School District.

At their March 27 meeting, the IRSD Board of Education promoted former assistant superintendent Steele from interim superintendent, effective immediately, with a two-year contract beginning July 1.

A lifelong Dagsboro resident and 36-year educator, Steel said, “It feels good to know that people support you and people trust you. It feels really good.”

Now that the IRSD officially has a new leader, it removes a level of uncertainty, and the administration can stride forward with a better sense of direction.

“This gives me a chance to look at the long-term things we need,” said Steele, who suggested creating a long-term district plan and a community financial review group.

Families urge IRSD not to cut extracurricular pay

Indian River School District officials have said from the beginning of recent financial concerns that budget cuts are needed. The recently-passed current-expense referendum, which will bring in an additional $7.35 million annually in local property taxes, simply prevented the inevitable budget cuts from being more severe.

Millsboro student saves sister's life with school training

Coastal Point • Laura Walter : Lindsey Espinoza, center, was recently honored by local and state fire associations for using first-aid skills to save her little sister’s life during a choking incident.Coastal Point • Laura Walter : Lindsey Espinoza, center, was recently honored by local and state fire associations for using first-aid skills to save her little sister’s life during a choking incident.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.”

IRHS students design elementary-school playground

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.

IRHS students named to honor roll for second period

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 district teams qualify for Odyssey of the Mind Worlds

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.

IRSD considers cuts to teacher raises, club advisors, more

Budget cuts are coming to the Indian River School District. Even with an additional $7.5 million annual income in local property taxes, thanks to the recently passed current-expense referendum, IRSD staff expect to trim at least $5 million from next year’s budget. And that’s in addition to expected state budget cuts.

IR Live! presents a musical of the decades

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.

‘Oh, the places they’ll go’

Inclusion key to student success for special-needs education ‘Dream Team’ at IR

Coastal Point • Tripp Colonell: Xiomara Weaver, Jackie Johnson and the River Café crew are ready to start the day.Coastal Point • Tripp Colonell: Xiomara Weaver, Jackie Johnson and the River Café crew are ready to start the day.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.

Speaker tells the students: Share your blessings and have hope

Coastal Point • Laura Walter: Inspirational speaker ‘Principal El’ joked around with Indian River High School students while encouraging them to be their best selves now.Coastal Point • Laura Walter: Inspirational speaker ‘Principal El’ joked around with Indian River High School students while encouraging them to be their best selves now.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.”

IRSD referendum passes with record turnout

Overwhelmed LB turned to paper ballots

Voters were waiting in line before the polls even opened March 2 at six schools in the Indian River School District. But despite the long lines and a last-minute switch to paper votes, and with a lot of public debate, 57 percent of the public voted to approve IRSD’s current-expense referendum.

Special-education staff gets the spotlight

Coastal Point • Laura Walter: For their devotion to Indian River School District’s most vulnerable populations, these staff members were voted leaders in IRSD special education.Coastal Point • Laura Walter: For their devotion to Indian River School District’s most vulnerable populations, these staff members were voted leaders in IRSD special education.“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.

State auditor: IRSD heading in the right direction now

About three months after the Delaware Auditor of Accounts released a biting financial report on Indian River School District, the AOA this week commended the district for improving its financial policies.

IRSD officials have been working to correct the alleged misuse of funds, poor oversight, nepotism and other faults the AOA perceived within IRSD’s finances.

School district referendum scheduled for Thursday, March 2

Indian River School District was set to host a current-expense referendum on Thursday, March 2, (after Coastal Point press time), with polls closing at 8 p.m. Coastal Point will post results from the referendum on Thursday night, at www.CoastalPoint.com and www.facebook.com/CoastalPoint.

ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: IRSD polls open for referendum again March 2

Local polls will open on Thursday, March 2, for the Indian River School District’s current-expense referendum.

Comparing it to the November 2016 referendum, which failed by 20 votes, IRSD Acting Superintendent Mark Steele said, “We’re still asking you for the same 49 cents,” but the expenses have been restructured.

LB PTO holds Penny Wars to kick off sign fundraising

Coastal Point • Submitted: Lord Baltimore Elementary School Assistant Principal Matthew Keller was duct taped to the wall by the first-grade classes, which won the fundraising event.Coastal Point • Submitted: Lord Baltimore Elementary School Assistant Principal Matthew Keller was duct taped to the wall by the first-grade classes, which won the fundraising event.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.

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