Washington College is Helping MSCFV Better Target Its Mission

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A collaboration among a Washington College sociology professor, the College’s GIS Lab, and the Mid-Shore Council on Family Violence (MSCFV) is helping provide resources to women in crisis and creating strategies to reach more victims in the community.

Rachel Durso, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Black Studies at Washington College, teamed up with Jeanne Yeager, Executive Director of MSCFV, and Erica McMaster, Director of the GIS program, along with four GIS student interns and an analyst, to use the power of data collection and analysis to help the MSCFV in its mission. Their collaboration supported a $1 million Victims of Crime Act grant intended to enhance services such as crisis intervention, counseling, emergency transportation to court, temporary housing, criminal justice support, and advocacy.

Durso, a criminologist who had previously examined gender violence as a doctoral student at Ohio State University, was drawn into the project through the College’s GIS program and her meetings with Yeager.

“I was really impressed by MSCFV’s mission and the fact that [a single office] served the five rural counties of Kent, Caroline, Dorchester, Talbot, and Queen Anne’s counties. It seemed like something I could do to use my expertise to make a real difference in our community,” Durso says. “You can imagine that if somebody needs help and she lives in an isolated area of Dorchester County, it’s really difficult to receive services.”

Last summer, Durso interviewed MSCFV clients to collect data sources that could inform the non-profit’s strategies to increase access to services. Accompanied by her research assistant, WC senior Kaitlynn Ecker, Durso spoke with survivors of domestic violence, both English- and Spanish-speaking, to better understand their needs.

“I would read through the interviews and identify the themes that kept coming up,” Durso says. Framing those recurring themes—poverty, transportation, communication—were the concepts of social cohesion and isolation. Durso found that, for victims of domestic violence, living in a rural community “where everyone knows your business” can put them at a disadvantage.

“In a lot of criminological literature, we see the idea that living in a small town can deter crime,” Durso notes. “If a neighborhood is tightly bonded, you can expect that people watch out for each other. But what has not been thoroughly explored is the idea that social cohesion is not great for [victims of] domestic violence. Because domestic violence is often seen as a private, even shameful matter, it can prevent people from seeking help.”

Durso’s interviews revealed how important social media can be for women physically secluded from the outside world by helping them communicate with others who have had similar experiences. GIS responded by mapping broadband Internet access, 4G mobile data networks, Internet pricing, and what types of Internet services are available in areas that MSCFV serves. Durso also began looking at MSCFV’s web and social media presence, running analytics to determine how to expand the agency’s visibility and engagement within the community.

Also, by mapping where MSCFV clients were coming from, Durso and the GIS team were able to generate a macro view of what’s going on in the region and make the case to open an additional office in Cambridge.

With more data on social cohesion and isolation, social media, access to resources, and particular barriers to resources, MSCFV can better understand where they need to target resources, and where other grant money might be directed. One of Durso’s recommendations to MSCFV was to hire a social media director. As a result, MSCFV hired a consultant who has created a social media policy and posting schedule, and is working on revitalizing MSCFV’s platforms.

The interviews informed what other resources could be mapped: hospitals, rehab centers, public transportation, daycare providers, police jurisdictions, public libraries with computers, and access to affordable housing, as well as MSCFV’s clients themselves.

“The partnership with Washington College, through Professor Durso and the GIS team, has helped the agency grow and expand in ways that directly respond to the specific needs of rural victims of domestic violence,” says Yeager. “It has been a tremendous experience for MSCFV.”

Beyond collecting and analyzing the data to inform policy, Durso says the project offered something just as important: validation to battered women who have silently borne horrific cruelty. “When we asked our clients what MSCFV service they are most grateful for, a great majority said they appreciated the chance to tell their stories. For many, it was the first time they had shared their story. Someone believed them.”

About Washington College

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.

Support Our Schools Starts Random Acts of Kindness Campaign

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The members of the Support Our Schools (SOS) initiative are pleased to announce the return of the Random Acts of Kindness campaign for Kent County Public Schools. Our goal is to raise $5,000 to help ensure every child gets to fully participate in school.

All of Kent County’s public schools are considered high poverty schools. Because of this, there are many times during the school year when school principals are faced with children that cannot afford lunch, field trip fees, school activities, or other regular expenses. Rather than exclude students from an activity, they cover the expense. The Random Acts of Kindness campaign aims to raise funds to cover these unexpected day-to-day expenses. Distribution of the funds is made by the school principals based on need.

Last year, SOS, completed its first “Random Acts of Kindness” campaign for Kent County Public Schools. The group set an ambitious goal of $5,000 and thanks to the generosity of the community, surpassed that goal by almost $1,000 for a total of $5,921.58. This amount was divided between the seven local public schools to offset unexpected year-end expenses.

February 11 – 16, 2018 is Random Acts of Kindness week. KCPS principals and teachers will be on the lookout for students performing acts of kindness this week. Each morning students will be reminded about spreading kindness and encouraged to reach out to their friends and classmates. Students will be recognized by their school for their kind acts.

SOS will be accepting donations for the Random Acts of Kindness campaign through the month of February. Donations can be made online using the following link – www.sosrandomactsofkindness.com. SOS have special sponsorship packages for Businesses and Organizations. More info can be found on their website.

The Support Our Schools (SOS) Initiative is a grassroots advocacy effort devoted to increasing awareness of and support for the needs, challenges, and untapped potential of our public school system—both for the sake of the current student population and for its opportunity to serve as a catalyst for economic development. For more information on the Support Our Schools initiative please visit our website www.kcpssos.com.

Gunston School Musicians Qualify for District and State Choruses

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Clockwise: Jimmy Zhou, Davy Song, Cynthia Yang, Karen Chen (Not pictured: Nina De Angelo)

Congratulations to Gunston students Karen Chen, Nina De Angelo, Davy Song, Cynthia Yang, and Jimmy Zhao, who prepared, auditioned, and recently qualified for the 2018 All Shore Chorus. In addition, Davy Song was selected to the 2018 Maryland State Chorus based on his audition for that group in November. Auditions consist of learning one’s voice part (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) of a challenging choral work and singing that piece alone with recorded accompaniment; singing expressively from memory a short, lyrical folk song; and performing, at sight, unrehearsed rhythmic and melodic examples. The All Shore Chorus consists of the highest scoring singers from approximately 20 public and private high schools on the Eastern Shore, while the Maryland State Chorus is drawn from nearly 1500 high school students registered to audition across the state.

Members of the Maryland State Chorus will prepare their repertoire in the coming month, and spend three days together to rehearse with Dr. Arian Khaefi of Fullerton College, before their culminating public concert at Morgan State University, at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 11.

Members of the All Shore Chorus will similarly prepare to rehearse with their conductor, Dr. John Wesley Wright of Salisbury University, on Thursday and Friday, April 5 and 6. Their public performance will be at Queen Anne’s County High School, at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, April 6.

WC to Confer Honorary Degree on Frederick Douglass on Feb. 23

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On the bicentennial of Frederick Douglass’s birth, Washington College is posthumously awarding the famed abolitionist orator, author, and statesman the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws. Douglass’s great-great-great grandson, Kenneth Morris, co-founder and president of the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives, and David Blight, a professor of history at Yale University and director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition, will offer remarks and receive the College’s Award for Excellence.

The free, public event, part of the annual George Washington’s Birthday Convocation, is slated for Friday, Feb. 23, beginning at 4:00 p.m. in Decker Theatre, Gibson Center for the Arts. The ceremony will also be livestreamed: https://www.washcoll.edu/offices/digital-media-services/live/

“Two hundred years after his birth, it is truly an honor for Washington College to recognize the tenacity and the moral courage Frederick Douglass exhibited by speaking out in support of equal rights for all men and women,” says College President Kurt Landgraf.

Born into slavery in February 1818, not far from the College’s campus on Maryland’s Eastern Shore,Douglass came to understand at a very young age that education would be his path to freedom: “Knowledge unfits a child to be a slave,” he wrote. In 1838, he escaped slavery and spent the rest of his life speaking out on human rights issues, including abolitionism and women’s rights, in addition to serving as a federal official and diplomat. His first autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (1845), is taught in universities around the world. Yet Douglass himself never had a college education, and Washington College is believed to be the first institution to award him an honorary degree since Howard University did so in 1872.

When Douglass was born, Washington College—the first college in Maryland and one of the oldest in the United States—had already existed for almost 40 years. Among its founding donors, alongside George Washington, were members of the Lloyd family, on whose Eastern Shore plantation Douglass was enslaved during his childhood. The College remained a racially segregated institution until the late 1950s.

“Even without a formal education, Frederick Douglass steeped himself in newspapers, political writings, and treatises to become one of the most famous intellectuals of his time,” Landgraf says. “Washington College should have been thrilled to enroll such a promising scholar. We can’t change that history, but we can and should learn from it.”

The event coincides with Black History Month and a program organized by the College’s Office of Student Affairs, “The Black Experience: From Slavery to Modern Times.” Over the course of several weeks, students and faculty will learn about and discuss contributions African Americans have made to our society, as well as the legacy of slavery that remains. They will visit the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park and Douglass sites in Talbot County, as well as Cedar Hill, Douglass’s home in southeast Washington that is now a National Historic Site. For a complete listing of events commemorating Frederick Douglass’s bicentennial, visit https://www.washcoll.edu/offices/student-affairs/frederick-douglass-bicentennial/index.php

As part of the Douglass centennial activities on Feb. 23, members of the College’s Black Student Union will deliver copies of the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas: An American Slave to eighth-graders at Chestertown Middle School. Morris will join them; to honor Douglass’s 200th birthday, Morris’s family foundation is distributing one million hardcover copies of the book to middle-schoolers across the country.

The Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives is a modern abolitionist organization dedicated to teaching today’s generation about one of the most influential figures in American history and raising awareness about the ongoing crisis of human trafficking.

As director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale University, David Blight oversees the annual Frederick Douglass Book Prize and other public outreach programs regarding the history of slavery and its abolition. Blight is considered the nation’s foremost Douglass scholar; he recently completed the first major biography of Frederick Douglass in more than 20 years, which will be published later in 2018 by Simon and Schuster.

During Convocation ceremonies, recipients of the President’s Medal, the President’s Distinguished Service Awards, and the Alumni Service Award will also be honored.

About Washington College

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.

KCPS Early Childhood Education Investments Yield High Returns!

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Congratulations to Kent County Public Schools (KCPS) Kindergarteners for achieving the top ranking in Maryland on the 2017-18 Maryland Kindergarten Readiness Assessment (KRA)! WAY TO GO!!!

On Monday, January 29th, the Maryland State Department of Education released Maryland KRA scores for the 2017-2018 school year. The statewide average for kindergarten students demonstrating readiness is 45% percent, up from 43% percent in 2016-2017. Kent County kindergarteners outperformed their peers to achieve the #1 Maryland ranking; 62% percent demonstrated readiness, up 18% percent from last year’s scores. Equitable access to Universal Pre-Kindergarten and enriched learning environments has provided Kent County kindergarteners with a solid foundation that helped them outperform students in other jurisdictions. Kent County was only one of nine school systems that demonstrated gains of more than 15%. KCPS continues to narrow the achievement gap and for the first time, African American students in kindergarten outperformed their peers by 2%.

This is the fifth year KCPS has offered full day Universal Pre-Kindergarten programs to every four-year-old who resides in Kent County. Despite tough economic times, the Kent County Board of Education and Superintendent Karen Couch has continued to invest in early childhood education. They recognize children who attend high quality preschool programs gain critical skills needed for future academic success and early interventions mean children are less likely to require special education services. Quality early learning instruction and Universal Pre-Kindergarten programs are offered at no cost to KCPS families and the investment is beginning to pay huge dividends. Eighty-nine percent (89%) of KCPS children enrolled in Kindergarten were enrolled in the KCPS Universal Pre-Kindergarten program, with fifty-two percent (52%) living in low-income households and eleven percent (11%) with identified
disabilities.

As evidenced by the KRA scores, KCPS teachers, principals, and support staff are doing an excellent job for the students in Kent County and achieving great results. Congratulations to KCPS for making early childhood and school readiness a top priority!

WC-ALL Feb. 15 Learn at Lunch with Adam Goodheart

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Adam Goodheart, Director of the Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience at Washington College is the featured speaker at WC-ALL’s February 15 Learn at Lunch. Goodheart’s talk is entitled “Finding the 400: A Revolutionary Mystery”. The event begins at noon in the Hynson Lounge of Hodson Hall on the Washington College Campus

It was a mythic moment in the Revolutionary War on Aug. 27, 1776 when a valiant bunch of 400 Maryland soldiers fought off a much stronger British force during the Battle of Brooklyn. In the thick of Washington’s defeat, the 400 were all killed or taken prisoner, yet they managed to save the Continental Army. They became known to future generations as the “Maryland 400” – a reference to the “300 Spartans” of ancient Greek fame – and they provided Maryland with its official nickname, “The Old Line State”. The slain soldiers’ bodies are said to lie somewhere in Brooklyn, possibly beneath an auto repair shop. But, were the Maryland 400, in fact, simply the stuff of legend and myth? A team of Washington College students and faculty, working with researchers at the Maryland State Archives, is on the case to find out what really happened on that summer day 242 years ago.

Besides his leading role at the Starr Center, Adam Goodheart is also an historian, essayist, journalist, and New York Times best-selling author. Among his scholarly honors, he is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar Award (2017), a Distinguished Lecturer of the Organization of American Historians (2014-20), and an elected member of the Society of American Historians (2016) and the American Antiquarian Society (2010). Goodheart has taught and co-taught Washington College courses in American Studies, English, History, Anthropology, and Art, as well as in the freshman Global Perspectives (GRW) program. As a teacher, he believes in working collaboratively with his students on projects that take them beyond the classroom, contributing in tangible ways to scholarly knowledge and public awareness.

To attend Goodheart’s presentation, a reservation with payment is due by Thursday, February 8. The cost is $20, for members and $25 for others. Make a check payable to WC-ALL and send to WC-ALL at 300 Washington Avenue, Chestertown, MD. 21620 with name, phone, and email included. WC-ALL is planning an April 5 trip to the new Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia as a follow-up to the Learn at Lunch presentation. Details will be available soon.

The Gunston School Honors Harry “Stoney” Duffey

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On Saturday evening, January 27, members of The Gunston School community gathered to honor Mr. Harry “Stoney” Duffey at the school’s Leadership & Loyalty celebration.  Over a 50-year period, Mr. Duffey has been a student, parent, grandparent, and Chairman of the Board of Trustees.  In his role as Board Chair, the school completed the largest capital campaign in school history, and grew enrollment by nearly 40%.

Pictured from left to right: Jij Duffey, Stoney Duffey and Headmaster John Lewis.

With his wife, Jij, by his side Stoney listened as several guests spoke of the many accomplishments he made during his tenure at Gunston. Speakers included current Chairman of the Board, Jim Wright, Stoney’s daughters Pat Parkhurst and Catherine MacGlashan, and Headmaster John Lewis. Lewis concluded his speech with this parting sentiment that echoes throughout the Gunston community  “I can think of few people in the history of The Gunston School who have given more of themselves or have had greater influence on this school. Stoney’s vision and leadership have been transformative, and he deserves our congratulations and our appreciation. He is a great friend and supporter of The Gunston School.” At the end of the tribute, Parkhurst and MacGlashan made a toast to their father, to resounding applause.

WC Student Named Co-Editor of Pre-eminent American Birding Journal

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Mike Hudson holds a northern bobwhite at College’s Foreman’s Branch Bird Observatory at WC’s River and Field Campus.

Most Washington College students would count themselves lucky and excited to have an essay they’d written for a class accepted for publication in a national journal. But senior Mike Hudson can go a couple of steps further than that. Not only is an essay he wrote for an introduction to non-fiction class the lead piece for the winter issue of North American Birds, Hudson graduates in May already co-editor of the venerable publication of record for birding enthusiasts and researchers.

Since last spring, Hudson has been juggling his busy college schedule with his new role as co-editor along with Tom Reed of North American Birds (NAB), a quarterly publication of the American Birding Association (ABA) based in Delaware City, Delaware. “Mike and Tom, twenty something field ornithologists based in Maryland and New Jersey, respectively, are dyed-in-the-woolbirders deeply committed to the rigorous scientific traditions of North American Birds,” Ted Floyd, editor of Birding Magazine, who has been helping the new editors learn the ropes, wrote on the ABA blog last April. “These two are wonderful.”

For anyone who knows Hudson, a biology major and English minor, this maybe isn’t so surprising. Birding is a small, passionate world, and Hudson was already deeply immersed in it when he came to Washington College, drawn in part by Foreman’s Branch Bird Observatory at the College’s River and Field Campus (RAFC). From the moment he set foot on campus, Hudson has been a frequent intern and perpetual volunteer at the banding station and at RAFC’s Chester River Field Research Station, riding his bike there at all hours before he finally got a car.

Hudson has been a devoted birder since he was a boy growing up near Baltimore. “I started birding when I was maybe six or seven, my grandfather got me into it,” he says. His other mentor was Bill Stewart, who became the director of ABA’s Young Birder Program. Hudson participated in that program, and by the time he was in high school, the ABA was hiring him as an intern and staff assistant at its birding camps for youngsters. “So I’ve kind of been involved with the ABA since even before the people who are running it now,” he says.

When he learned last year that NAB’s longtime editor was retiring, and that the journal was seeking some new editorial blood, he grabbed the opportunity.

North American Birds, which has a very old history . . . has always been the same thing. It’s always been a journal that chronicles the changes in American bird status and distribution,” Hudson says. By gathering and analyzing reports from birders across the continent, the journal documents changing bird populations, a topic more timely than ever today due to climate change. “The timing was good, they knew they wanted at least one and maybe two editors to take over, they wanted it to be two younger people, and they knew me.”

Hudson shares the lead-off essay, called “Changing Seasons,” with Reed, as well as editing and analyzing regional field reports, blogging, and other duties as they come up. They’re also working to help NAB change with the digital times, and this theme of change—both in the publication as well as in species or populations of birds that used to migrate but that now either don’t migrate at all or not as far—is what Hudson incorporated into his essay for Associate Professor of English Sean Meehan’s Introduction to Nonfiction class.

“Professor Meehan likes to play around with the rules a lot, and one of the things he said at the beginning of the class, he said when you’re writing an essay, you’re not so much writing as you are essaying, as a verb. He took it back to the etymology of the word,” Hudson says, which means “to attempt or try.” “I’d always liked intellectually the idea that when you’re writing an essay, you’re doing something more than just writing, you’re thinking about something bigger. So that was a big thing that changed it for me. It changed my perspective. And, defining what an essay is, a more holistic way of thinking about essay.”

Meehan says as part of his Introduction to Nonfiction class, he “challenges students to identify a real-world audience and publication for their essays… it is fascinating to see Mike put these skills to work, so directly and quickly, even before he graduates.”

About Washington College

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.

WC Researchers Present at St. Michaels Library February 17

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Alisha Knight

The collaborative research of Washington College’s GIS Lab and an English professor seeking answers about the one of the country’s earliest and most influential African American publishing companies will be the topic of a talk at the Talbot County Free Library in St. Michaels, Maryland.

“Putting Them on the Map: Tracing African American Book History through GIS Technology” takes place on Saturday, February 17 at 2 p.m., as part of the library’s celebration of Black History Month. The event will be held at the library’s St. Michael’s branch.

Alisha Knight, Associate Professor of English and American Studies, will join Washington College junior Julia Portmann and GIS Development Manager Luis Machado to discuss Knight’s research into the Colored Co-Operative Publishing Company. Their collaboration resulted in a Story Maps project called “Putting Them on the Map” — a digital humanities project using data analytics to create a data visualization of the Colored Co-operative’s network of subscription agents.

Knight and her team will explain the connection between African American book publishing and geographic technologies as they share the story of the turn-of-the-century, black-owned publishing company’s efforts to become the mouthpiece and inspiration to African Americans throughout the world.

A unique and influential business that briefly flourished in the early 1900s, the Colored Co-operative promoted “the higher culture of Religion, Literature, Science, Music and Art of the Negro, universally.” It employed over time some 240 agents who sold the Colored American Magazine as far west as Seattle and as far south as San Antonio, Texas.

The Story Maps project “Putting Them on the Map” can be accessed from Knight’s faculty page.  It’s also accessible from the Pauline Elizabeth Hopkins Society website.

For information about the Talbot County Free Library, see http://www.tcfl.org/

About Washington College

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.