Indian River School District
When Principal Bennett Murray tried to congratulate Diane Comolli for winning Teacher of the Year at Indian River High School, he couldn’t actually reach her. Students were eagerly swarming the English teacher’s classroom.
“I went down there to congratulate her after I had made the announcement via the PA system. I couldn’t get to her because her students were congratulating her and giving her hugs. Her kids were just as proud of her as we were,” Murray said. “I thought that spoke volumes that the students took time out of their schedules to congratulate her.”
“I was overwhelmed,” she said. “There are such fabulous teachers in this building. Just to be considered … is an honor. I guess, if you’re a teacher, that’s an Oscar!”
“I was so glad and honored to represent what is good about this building,” she said. “Indian River demonstrates each day what’s good about public schools.”
Teaching 10th-grade English, she sees students of all abilities, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I have a passion for all kids. They all deserve to learn. They all can learn, no matter what circumstances they come from,” said Comolli, adding that she feels she can approach multiple needs and learning styles.
“I got that from advertising. I talk to my audience in a way they’ll listen. … In high school, that’s especially important,” she said.
The Indian River School District Board of Education this week dusted off a conversation it began two years ago: considering a new middle school.
Voters kept the same lineup for Indian River School District’s Board of Education this year, as the incumbents in District 5 will retain their seats. The district, which includes the Selbyville area, will be represented by incumbents Doug Hudson (183 votes) and W. Scott Collins (151 votes), who beat challenger Bobbi Barends (40 votes) in the May 13 election.
Neil Beahan usually saves paperwork for afternoons or weekends. That’s because the principal of the Southern Delaware School of the Arts wants to be with students as much as he can.
“I try to stay out of the office as much as humanly possible,” said Beahan, visiting classrooms and teacher meetings to know what’s going on. Plus, with “three times as many concerts” as other schools, SDSA families see Beahan afterhours, too.
He doesn’t put in those long hours for an award, but that didn’t stop Beahan from being named Delaware’s Middle Level Principal of the Year for 2014 by the Delaware Association of School Administrators.
“Under Neil Beahan’s guidance, Southern Delaware School of the Arts has become one of the highest-performing schools in the state of Delaware,” wrote Indian River School District Superintendent Susan Bunting.
He has been part of district for 33 years, starting as a teacher.
Indian River High School is ready to put on a show and, this time, students looked to the “silver screen” for inspiration. In fact, the IRHS Music Department has two shows planned in the next weeks — the “Movie Magic” Stage Band show May 16 and 17, and the IR Band and Chorus Concert on May 20.
The Stage Band features IR’s top musicians and singers. Past audiences have even asked Music Director Mark Marvel, “Are you sure those are children?” because they’re so talented, he said.
“Movie Magic” is a review of top songs from decades of film, leading from the DeLorean of “Back to the Future” to the bow of the Titanic.
The show swings from the poignant “Somewhere” from West Side Story to the bawdy “Master of the House” from “Les Misérables.”
This is one traffic light people are happy to see: Lord Baltimore Elementary School once again has flashing yellow lights in the school zone, alerting drivers to the 20 mph speed limit during pick-up and drop-off periods.
Indian River High School students will enjoy an elegant beachside stroll on Saturday, May 10, as the school for the first time hosts its prom Grand March on the boardwalk in Bethany Beach.
“What’s better than to bring out hundreds of kids on the most festive night of the year?” said Diane Comolli, IRHS teacher and class advisor.
Lord Baltimore Elementary School is close to finishing a school year that has seen much administrative job-hopping. The school now has a new assistant principal in Woody Long, who is finishing the school year in place of Gary Brittingham.
Elections for District 5 seats on the Indian River School District’s School Board are set for Tuesday, May 13. Three candidates are vying for two seats: incumbents W. Scott Collins and Doug Hudson, and challenger Bobbi Barends.
Tanya Evans always keeps an eye on her sixth-grade students, in the classroom and in the hall at Selbyville Middle School. She’s teaching them to be better learners and better people. As students gain more freedom in middle school, Evans watches to ensure they’re growing in a positive way. She also keeps an open ear in the RAD (Ready And Determined) team hallway, where she teaches English language arts.
The Indian River School District recently received two Superstars in Education Awards from the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce. The “Peer to Peer Observation” program at Georgetown Middle School and the district’s “BRINC: Linking to the Future” program were among the 2014 Superstars winners announced in April.
The following Indian River High School students recently received honors for their grades during the most recent marking period of the 2013-2014 school year.
Earning High Honors were:
After some delay and “jumping through hoops” to get various permits, the Indian River School District made some concrete progress this month. More than a year since the February 2013 referendum was approved, the IRSD finally opened bids this month to find itself $49,000 under budget to renovate three school buildings.
Look out, world, for these future business leaders — Indian River High School students earning several spots at this week’s Business Professionals of America (BPA) National Leadership Conference in Indianapolis, Ind.
IRHS brought home state trophies in six team and individual events. Students who earned a spot at nationals included Marissa Fox, Yosef Knight-Nieves, Reilly Scott and Charles Wayne (first place, Small Business Management Team); Hannah Davis (first place, Prepared Speech); and Corinne Hitch (second place, with a $750 scholarship, Entrepreneurship).
Led by staff advisors Stephanie Wilkinson and Jeff Bunting, the IR students will pop back to school for one day after spring break, then travel April 30 to May 4, representing Delaware in leadership and business seminars, workshops and networking opportunities, as well as some sightseeing perks.
Nationally, BPA gives middle school, high school and college students real-world business training, including finance, management, marketing and more. More than 1,100 students entered the Delaware competition.
Big things are on the horizon for the Freeman Stage at Bayside. Whether people want to rock out or relax, they’ll have plenty of options when the Freeman Stage hosts 10 national recording artists among nearly 50 performances this season.
The Indian River High School chapter of Business Professionals of America (BPA) will hold a Spring Egg Hunt on Saturday, April 12, from noon to 3 p.m. at the Indian River High School football field.
For Heather McCabe, there’s “nothing better in life than teaching a child to read … leveling the playing field” for those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The fifth-grade classroom of the Teacher of the Year at Phillip C. Showell Elementary is always busy. But it’s a relaxed atmosphere, so children feel comfortable enough to make mistakes and learn from them.
For children, the key to success is “to know that you love them and it’s a safe place.”
She uses fun activities to lead children through structured and rigorous classwork.
“Lot of standing on chairs and singing,” McCabe said. “If you agree with someone, stand on your chair.”
Young children are like sponges, soaking up knowledge quickly. That’s why the Indian River School District is teaching Spanish to kindergarteners at John M. Clayton and East Millsboro elementary schools.
Parents can learn about Spanish immersion at several open houses on April 14 and April 16.
The Indian River School District aimed to better protect its schools this school year by hiring full-time school safety monitors, all of whom were required to have law-enforcement experience. Now, the monitors are likely to officially become constables, beginning next fall.
But, though Delaware law allows constables to make arrests, the IRSD School Board does not plan to allow employees to exercise that power, due to the complications that result.
“We want to make sure these people are in the building for safety and security, but we don’t want to take them away for one minute from a thing they have to do,” said Assistant Superintendent Mark Steele. “If it gets to the point where they make an arrest, then [they’re stuck] in an office for paperwork or in court,” he emphasized.
The monitors themselves echoed that concern. But when the final decision on the issue of constables was announced, Preston Lewis, administrator of student services for the district, said, “There were no concerns. They certainly understand the direction the district is taking.”
School board President Charles Bireley said the highlight of the decision was “the fact that they would get more training. It is always better for anyone in any position — police officers, nurses, anyone.”
“Constables are considered sworn officers,” emphasized W. Scott Collins, school board member and Selbyville police chief.
At 10 a.m. on a Monday morning, children at John M. Clayton Elementary were busy with schoolwork and class projects.
One minute later, they were huddled in the dark, silently waiting behind locked doors.
“This is what you want to see,” said Assistant Principal Matthew Keller, walking into a ghost-town gymnasium.
JMC was practicing a high-level security lockdown. Part of the new comprehensive school safety plan, such drills “make sure everyone responds the way they’re supposed to,” said Principal Charlynne “Char” Hopkins.
To effectively see how things work on their first high-level drill, Hopkins hadn’t even warned the school safety monitor, Deborah Jester, a retired Delaware State Police trooper. At the last minute, she announced it as a practice drill, so no one would call 911.
Proud graduates and friends are being invited to the Indian River High School Alumni Association’s second annual “FUN-raiser” on Saturday, April 5. Alumni can celebrate the green-and-gold with all-you-can-eat food, music, prizes, cornhole games and IRHS alumni license plates from 6 to 10 p.m. at Frankford Fire Hall.
Guests can enjoy home cooking: homemade pit beef, hot sausages, macaroni-and-cheese, the Tribbitt Family’s Famous Clam Chowder and desserts. Drinks are free, including beer, wine and soda.
Guests might get lucky with “Chinese,” silent and live auctions. They can bring up to three canned goods for the local food pantry to receive up to three “Chinese auction” tickets.
After 100 people enjoyed last year’s inaugural event, the alumni group said they are looking forward to another fun night.
“It was successful, especially the license plates,” said IRHSAA President Marla Daisey.
This year’s event will include the return of the Indian River license plates, with the Indian-head logo designed by IR students.
People can submit bids on particular plates in the week before the event, aiming to take home one with their lucky number, graduation year or other combination. Numbers such as 8 and 9 will be done through live auction. A mail-in auction will determine all other numbers. Any numbers not sold beforehand will be available that night.
The Sussex Academy recently announced the names of students on its honor rolls for the third marking period of the 2013-2014 school year.
It’s almost a joke to see some of the misconceptions about Common Core educational standards, said Donald Hattier at the March Indian River School Board meeting.
“I ask that we get as a board as basic rundown of how we are approaching it, as opposed to other districts,” Hattier said.
Teacher Jason Orlen knows that kids are more engaged in a fun classroom.
“Just making learning fun. Who wants to sit here all day if they’re bored? Not me, and I have to be here all day long,” he said.
Orlen’s fun and encouraging classroom helped him become 2014-2015 Teacher of the Year at East Millsboro Elementary School.
“When I was growing up, you didn’t hear” singing and clapping in the classroom, said the fifth-grade teacher. “But if you play them a song,” he said, kids will remember anything. Recently in math class, he was surprised to hear students burst into a song about equations, which they had learned months ago.
He makes up silly songs, dances on desks or anything else he can devise to make a lesson memorable.
“No matter how old you get, you can still kid around,” Orlen said.
School days have gotten longer in the Indian River School District.
Beginning Tuesday, March 18, the district extended the school day by 30 minutes at all of its schools. The day will be extended each afternoon to make up for eight weather-related closures this winter. (The schedule change itself was delayed because of a March 17 snow day.) School will begin at the regular time each morning.
Caroline Hevner has the job of her dreams: teaching third grade. But it’s ironic how much she loves a job that used to be part of her nightmares.
“As many times as I said I can’t see myself being a teacher, I can’t see myself doing anything different,” said John M. Clayton Elementary School’s Teacher of the Year for 2014-2015.
Raised in a family of educators, administrators and nannies, “I always swore I wouldn’t be a teacher.”
But as a high school nursing student, Hevner just “couldn’t take it. It was too gross for me.” During training, her favorite placement was actually at the hospital daycare. Defying her younger self, she attended University of Delaware for a degree in early childhood education, with a minor in special education.
Residents can help choose the future of the Indian River School District this May, as three contenders have stepped forward, hoping to fill two seats on the school board. Incumbents W. Scott Collins and Doug Hudson and challenger Bobbi Barends all hope to represent District 5 (Selbyville, Gumboro and west Frankford).
The Indian River High School Band Boosters will host their 6th Annual Bingo Fundraiser on Friday, April 4, at the Millville Volunteer Fire Company’s fire hall. Prizes include items from Longaberger, Vera Bradley and Thirty-One, as well as cash.