KCPS Students Visit the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore

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It was a picture perfect May morning when 49 students from Rock Hall, Galena and H.H. Garnet Elementary Schools and 20 from Kent County Middle School arrived at the the American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM). Adjacent to Baltimore’s scenic Inner Harbor, AVAM features a unique exhibition of wildly imaginative artworks created by self-trained artists using whatever materials they could find. The artwork reflects the raw creativity and deeply held emotions of its creators, who often share their most personal, compelling and sometimes tragic stories through their work.

AVAM is the “most creative museum in the USA,” said one reviewer. “It’s like no other museum I have ever visited. The American Visionary Art Museum is an extraordinary gem. This place is cutting edge and all its exhibits make you think … deeply. At the same time, its visionary collection makes you smile from ear to ear.“

H.H. Garnet 5th graders along with their art teacher, Aimee Boumiea.

“The kids had a blast, as did I!” said Aimee Boumiea of her class from HH Garnet Elementary. “For some of the students it was the first time they traveled into Baltimore and none of them had visited the museum before. It was wonderful to see how their faces lit up as we entered the Jim Rouse Visionary Center for the first time and they saw the interactive art, the Baltimore painted screens, and the kinetic sculptures. They were so excited to experience every aspect of the museum from the guided tour to the Mr. Imagination workshop and even the fabulous gift shop.”

“I loved the experience of seeing all of the different types of art that could be created from basic materials,” said fifth grader Aaliyah Dawson.

“I liked the mirrored Cosmic Galaxy Egg mosaic sculpture. It was created using different pieces of mirrors and you could see your reflection in it,” said student Peter Sine.

“I liked attending the workshop because you could create something that a famous artist in the museum created. I made a person out of a paintbrush. My favorite piece in the museum was the ship made our of toothpicks because it showed the dedication artists have for their art,” said student Stewart Hickman.

The trip was sponsored by well-known local artists Ken and Patrica Herlihy, whose generous donation covered the cost of the buses. In looking for a way to share their passion for art with local students, the Herlihys contacted Tom McHugh, founder of the popular Mainstay musical venue in Rock Hall. After retiring as the Mainstay’s director, Tom launched Arts in Motion to solicit grants and donations to fund programs for local students through the Kent County Arts Council. Along with facilitating field trips like the visit to AVAM, Arts in Motion brings accomplished artists, musicians and actors into local public schools to conduct workshops with students.

Students look up, down and all around as the museum displays its collection on and suspended from the ceilings as well as the walls.

“The kids had a fantastic time and really enjoyed seeing all the ways to create art, and how we can all be visionaries,” said Kent County Middle School teacher Janet McCormick. “The experiences that these kids have on trips like these help shape them as individuals and as artists. They rarely have chances like these to look at art beyond the classroom and we are very appreciative of the Herlihys’ passion to share the arts with our students.”

“I thought the figures made out of piano pieces were really cool,” said fifth grader Sophie Pierce. “I play the piano and it was neat to see how the inside of a piano became a piece of artwork. I enjoyed learning the story behind the Black Icarus mosaic art too.”

“My favorite art piece in the museum was from the Parenting: An Art without a Manual exhibit. There was a sculpture of a mother reading to her little boy on the couch and then you see the father ready to beat his older brother on the other side of the couch. The story showed the artist’s life as a child and how each individual has their own experience,” said fellow student Kamari Hoxter.

“I loved my time at the AVAM. It’s hard to put it into words. It was AMAZING!” said Kelly Sengprasert-Galanwho, who summed up the excitement shared by her fellow students. “All my friends were there and it made the experience much better to be able to share it with them.”

Sultana & Students Help Conserve Radcliffe Creek

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Students from Kent School and Radcliffe Creek School pose at Chestertown Town Hall, where they displayed projects summarizing a year-long course on Radcliffe Creek  –  Photo by Peter Heck

Students at Kent School and Radcliffe Creek School gathered at Town Hall Tuesday, May 28, to show projects created as part of a year-long study of the ecology of Radcliffe Creek.   All were “Action Projects” in which the students first studied the subject then came up with ideas of how they could make a difference for a cleaner, better environment.

The projects are the end results of a class created by Sultana Education Foundation, enlisting some 200 seventh-grade students at county schools. Radcliffe Creek runs along the north and west edges of Chestertown, entering the Chester River just downstream from the armory.

Beth Lenker of Sultana Education Foundation  – Photo by Peter Heck

A wood duck nesting box built by Kent School students for installation along Radcliffe Creek

Sultana’s Holt Education Director, Beth Lenker, said the students’ work was their response to the question, “What can we do?” at the end of the course, which included classroom work along with field trips along the creek. Each of the projects has the overall goal of helping to clean up the creek, the Chester River, and the Chesapeake Bay, Lenker said.

Projects covered a range from building nesting boxes for wood ducks, which will be installed along the course of the stream; trying to persuade local restaurants to discontinue using plastic straws; and erecting a sign in Gateway Park, which borders the stream where it crosses High Street, to make visitors aware of the need to protect the environment. One group of students created stencils to paint signs at storm drains, to remind everyone that they empty into the river, while others created a game to make younger students aware of some of the wildlife that inhabits the creek. And still another group created a plan to completely eliminate plastic bags from the local community.

Radcliffe Creek School Storm Drain Stencils project (kneeling in front) Hunter Morrison, Nasr Matthews, Kentie Smith; (standing middle row) Nellie Rhodes, David, Schell; (back row) Jack Rhodes, Benjamin Anthony  – Photo by Jane Jewell

Sultana instructors worked with teachers Hannah Richardson of Kent School, Heidi Usilton of Radcliffe Creek School, and Karen Carty and Katie Hughs of Kent County Middle School. The project came together about two years ago after Sultana received a grant for it, and the teachers put together an outline for the course. Lessons learned this year will be applied to refining and adjusting the course for next year, Lenker said.

Students from Radcliffe Creek School who worked on a storm drain project said that there are three drains on their campus plus many more around town that drain directly into Radcliffe Creek.  Their project will stencil messages on or near the drains that will inform people and hopefully reduce the amount of pollutants that end up in the river and from there into the bay.  One stencil design states “No Waste — Drains to River”.

Kent School Project to persuade restaurants to use more ecological alternatives to plastic straws. (kneeling in front) Shawn Barry, Bob Hollis; (standing) Allie Butler, Sophia Kent, Eddie Gillespie, – Photo by Jane Jewell

Students in Kent School’s ExStrawdinary Project went to restaurants and other businesses that sell beverages and gave them information on the problems caused by plastics in general and plastic straws specifically.  They then presented the advantages of the four main alternative materials that straws can be made from–paper, metal, corn, and bamboo.  They asked the business to make a pledge to investigate these alternatives to plastic straws and then to seriously consider switching to one of them.  They displayed a long list of local businesses that made the pledge. (See the list below in the Photo Gallery .)

Rain Garden project: Parker Severs & Asher Bowman  – Photo by Jane Jewell

Students in a Rain Garden project did some research and found that planting vegetation with deeper roots can help a nearby river by absorbing more water and holding more soil. That helps reduce both erosion and pollution. The students then selected ten such plants—including black-eyed Susans and Echinacea–that can grow well in our area to plant along the creek. Seventh-grader Parker Severs said that she intends to plant some this summer in her own yard at home near low-lying spots that tend to collect water. Reducing small stagnant pools of water will also help reduce the number of mosquitoes—a real bonus!

It’s cool how engaged the students are in putting together the actions projects,” Lenker said. She said the projects could make a tangible difference in the health of Radcliffe Creek with ripple effects for both the Chester River and the Chesapeake Bay.  But it’s most important that the students are learning that they can–as individuals or as a group–make a real difference in real problems.

Students from Kent County Middle School are scheduled to show their projects at the school this Thursday, June 6.  Those projects will be featured in a future Spy article.

 

**  Photo Gallery **

Save the Bay project students from the Kent School – Page Starky, Issie Leach, Lucas LaFleur, Maya Whyte, Hayden McKensie – Photo by Jane Jewell

All projects were presented on poster boards, a standard practice used in academia and the scientific and business worlds.  – Photo by Peter Heck

Radcliffe Creek School project group  – Photo by Jane Jewell

List of businesses pledging to consider switching away from plastic straws. – Photo by Jane Jewell

Save the Bay project displayed a hand-painted recycled bag with the slogan “There is no Planet B.” – Photo by Jane Jewell

Save the Bay project poster from Kent School – Photo by Jane Jewell

 

 

 

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Echo Hill Outdoor School’s Summer EXPLORE Programs Turn 40

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This summer marks the 40th anniversary of Echo Hill Outdoor School’s summer EXPLORE programs. Since 1979, over 34,000 children have experienced the magic of the Chester River through EHOS’ immersive on-the-water canoe, skipjack and buyboat trips, as well as land-based programming.

40 years ago, EXPLORE started as an extension of EHOS’ existing school programming—a way to continue involving children in freeform nature experiences year-round. The first summer offered participants a chance to canoe and camp on the Chester River, and by 1983, the program was successful enough to expand to on-board camping experiences with two classic Bay workboats, the Annie D and the Bernice J. By 1988, the skipjack Elsworth replaced the aging Bernice J,  and since then, the EXPLORE programs have operated with the same recipe every summer—take a group of children, add the Chester River and a fleet of workboats or canoes, mix in a healthy dose of swimming, fishing, and exploring, and you’ve got an unforgettable summer experience.

Captain Andrew McCown, Associate Director of Echo Hill Outdoor School, has been working the summer EXPLORE programs since he started the program in 1979, and is a strong believer in the power of a ‘Huck Finn’ learning experience.

“After 40 years, my takeaway is that we’re fortunate to have a river that looks the way it does, that in the middle of the week with a group of kids it can feel the way it did 100 years ago,” says McCown. “On EXPLORE programs, we learn about the stars by sleeping under them, learn about fish by catching and preparing them, eat crabs when we’re hungry and sail when the wind is right. Every EXPLORE student really gets to experience the Land of Pleasant Living.”

This summer’s 40th EXPLORE session still has availability for interested participants. Children can enjoy a three-day camping trip, four- and five-day canoe trips, or five-day skipjack and buyboat trips. Parents or guardians can find out more by visiting http://www.ehos.org/camps/ or by calling 410-348-5880.

Echo Hill Outdoor School was established in 1972 in Kent County, Maryland. Today, more than 6,700 students and teachers from public and private schools annually visit EHOS School in our residential outdoor education programs, adventure programs, camps and day programs from March through mid-December. For more information, go to ehos.org or call 410-348-5880.

 

Kent School Kicks Off Campaign at 50th Anniversary Event

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On Saturday, April 6, Kent School celebrated its 50th Anniversary with an incredible Gala at Brittland Estates in Chestertown. The event served to honor the legacy of Kent School, reflect on the present and imagine the future.

At the Gala, we announced the launch of Together We Soar: The 50th Anniversary Campaign for Kent School. This $2.3M effort will support the Endowment and a Middle School Renovation creating new spaces for Academics, Science and the Visual and Performing Arts. Kent School’s mission is to guide its students in realizing their potential for academic, artistic, athletic, and moral excellence. The campaign will enrich the educational experience offered at Kent School by providing an even stronger foundation for all of its students.

Together We Soar will add an additional $1M to our Endowment, which will allow us to continue to be the best that we can be for generations to come. Our Endowment supports student financial assistance, employee compensation, professional development, and the Kudner Leyon Visiting Writers’ Program. Our Endowment efforts have been strengthened by a generous donor’s challenge which commits to matching funds of $200,000. The School is pleased to report that it is halfway to its Endowment goal.

In addition, Together We Soar seeks to raise $1M to fund a re-imagining of the Deborah C. Williams Middle School and existing visual and performing arts spaces. A two story addition is planned to meet our program needs. We are working with Albert Rubeling of JMT Architecture on the design. Our goal is to complete a STEAM Innovation Center with a new Middle School Academic Wing, as well as a new Performing Arts Wing on the second floor of the M.V. “Mike” Williams Gymnasium.

Nancy Mugele, Head of Kent School said, “I am so grateful for the visionary men and women on Kent School’s Founding Board, especially Founding Board President Ben P. Gale and Founding Headmistress Joan C. Merriken for their tenacity, resilience and perseverance in leading this institution. It is only fitting that the first gift to this campaign was made by the estate of Joan C. Merriken.

Joan wrote:

Perhaps the most rewarding part of my job is watching the intellectual, moral, and personal growth of every Kent School student. I am always proud of their academic success, but seeing what fine young people they become pleases me even more. Learning to define one’s standards and values is an integral part of the curriculum, and it will continue to be.

This statement greatly inspires me and I will work tirelessly to ensure its continuation well into our next 50 years. I believe in the transformative power of a Kent School education and I believe that together we can accomplish anything we set our minds to do!”

Kent School is not the same school it was 50 years ago, or even 10 years ago. Schools need to grow and develop just as our students must. We know more today about how students learn and think, and our knowledge in mind, brain and education science informs pedagogy and our understanding of best practices in education.

Kent School maintains deeply ingrained traditions that bridge generations, forever joining our students and alumni together, and preserving the very best parts of our extraordinary Kent School spirit. The best schools – Kent School included – balance achievements and progress in ways that fully embrace their history, while also embracing the opportunities that exist in our diverse world. The power of our spirit, our community connections, and the balance of tradition and leading edge prpg, will propel us steadfastly into our next half century.

Kent School, located on the bank of the Chester River in historic Chestertown, is an independent school serving boys and girls in Preschool through Grade Eight. Kent School is celebrating fifty years of excellence in education in an unparalleled learning environment. The School’s mission is to guide our students in realizing their potential for academic, artistic, athletic, and moral excellence. Our School’s family-oriented, supportive, student-centered environment fosters the growth of honorable, responsible citizens for our country and our diverse world. For more information on Kent School’s Fiftieth Anniversary Campaign, Together We Soar visit www.kentschool.org

Spy Time Machine: A Vincent Hynson Scholar in 2011 Plans for College and Career

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In today’s Spy, there is a short interview with the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy’s project manager Darius Johnson on an upcoming planning conference on traffic problems and solutions for Bay Bridge congestion. We encourage our readers to view this conversation here to learn more about this important program.

In the middle of our interesting chat about one of the Spy’s favorite subjects, there was a wave of emotion as the interviewer had a momentary flashback to one of the early stories of the Spy in the 2011. Eight years ago, we met Darius and his father, Barry, in front of Sam’s shortly after he had received news that he had been awarded Washington College’s Vincent Hynson Memorial Scholarship. Just a few weeks from graduating from Kent County High School, Darius talked about his hopes for college life and career aspirations.

Fast forward to the spring of 2019 and the Spy found a unmistakable  joy in seeing this young man well on his way in serving the Mid-Shore he loves so most. The full circle of Darius’ journey  speaks volumes about the benefits of higher education, but more so much about Kent County schools, Washington College, and most importantly, the impact of hundreds in our community who gave time and resources to make it possible for Vincent Hynson’s memory to be so brilliantly celebrated.

We have reposted our article from May 30, 2011 below.

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Kent County High School Senior Darius Johnson is looking forward to attending Washington College for the 2011-2012 school year. But he won’t have to travel far for a home-cooked meal or to get some laundry done. Darius will live on campus, but his home is just a few miles away in Worton.

Darius won the 2011 Vincent Hynson scholarship, established by former Washington College President Baird Tipson. The scholarship honors the life and achievement of local pastor, teacher, and WC graduate, Vincent Hynson, whose leadership in the community made a difference in the lives of Kent County’s youth and his congregation.

Before the big graduation day, Saturday, June 4, the Spy asked Darius to answer a brief questionnaire on his recent achievements and his decision to stay home for his college years.

Darius Johnson and father Barry Johnson

Question: Besides winning the Vincent Hynson Scholarship, what are among your greatest personal and academic achievements at Kent County High School, what will you remember most about your years at KCHS?

Answer: I would have to say being inducted into the National Honor Society and being voted Most likely to Be Successful by my peers. The NHS is an achievement that basically speaks for itself, and being recognized by those my own age as Most Likely To Be Successful makes me feel like all my hard work has not gone unnoticed. I feel that when one’s peers acknowledge another’s accomplishments, it is a big deal. It is usually adults who show acknowledgment. Honestly, the connections I’ve made with so many people at KCHS will be in my mind forever – the staff, and my friends. I get along well with the majority of the people no matter the age. I’ve became more of a people person throughout my four years at KCHS and I have built some strong relationships.

Question: Most young men your age want to go away to school, why did you decide to stay home to attend college?

Answer: Originally, I did want to get away from Kent County because I felt like it was the thing to do. Everyone else I was friends with has done it or aspired to do it. Hence, why I applied to Drexel University and Mount St. Mary’s. It was not until Fall of my Senior year that I realized that moving away does not determine one’s college experience. I believe college is as enjoyable as one makes it, and I could enjoy WC as much as any other college. I ultimately chose WC because I loved the atmosphere. It fit my laid-back personality and it has a huge variety of people from all over the country. Living on campus will still provide me with the college experience I yearn for, while also staying connected with my roots. So I feel as if I am getting the best of both worlds.

Question: Explain your relationship with your parents, and how that influenced you in your success. What golden rules did they teach you as you grew to be a successful young man?

Answer: My parents are amazing people. They always encourage me to do my best, but never force me to do anything I am uncomfortable with. They are the type of people to teach by example and work hard towards the goals, which naturally was instilled in me. They set a good foundation for their lives by knowing and following their priorities, leading to us living comfortable and happy lives. I’ve learned to always stick by my friends, family and morals in life. To always keep a level head and an open mind. The examples they have provided me with have shaped me into who I am today.

What will your major be at WC, and why did you select the major?

Answer: As of now, I want to major in Criminal Justice or some form of Law. I have always been interested in law and with how the world is today, I cannot help but want to make it a better and safer place. Just looking at the news and seeing all the stories about crime really upset me. I may be only one person, but even one person can make some kind of a difference, and I hope to have a part in fighting against those with a disregard for the law. It seems to be getting worse with the murders and kidnappings of young children, gang violence, and hate crimes. I hate to see someone get hurt, especially if they have no reason for such wrath.

Question: What are your plans after college – do you plan to study abroad, go onto a Master’s degree program, or begin a career?

Answer: After college I plan to go onto a Master’s degree program. I believe I should go as far as I can take myself with my education, so I can put myself into a better position for finding a career. Eventually, I hope to end up working in the Department of Justice.

 

 

Maryland’s Congressional Delegation Voices Support for Kirwan Commission Goals

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Maryland’s congressional delegation has voiced strong support for a sweeping plan to reform the state’s educational system.

The Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education has been investigating how to improve Maryland’s public schools for more than two years.

In a meeting in the House Tuesday with some of the state’s congressional delegation, commission chairman William E. “Brit” Kirwan, former president of the University of Maryland, College Park and former chancellor of the University System of Maryland, said the state’s educational system is “mediocre” and more needs to be done to strengthen it.

“We are at a huge crossroads moment for our state,” Kirwan said. “One of the hurdles we have to overcome is the complacency about the quality of our education.”

One problem the commission has identified is insufficient financial support for schools located in low-income areas.

“We just aren’t investing enough money as other states and other countries do in these schools,” Kirwan said.

The commission is recommending expanding access to high-quality preschool for three- and four-year-olds and career and technical education for high schoolers.

Another top concern of the commission is the high turnover rate for teachers in the state. According to Kirwan, 47 percent of second-year teachers do not return for a third year.

Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, said “elevating the profession of teaching as a high profession with adequate training and compensation” is imperative to improving the quality of education in the state.

The commission is currently requesting $3.8 billion for the necessary improvements. Cardin said this money would be phased in over a ten-year period in a “fiscally responsible manner.”

Kirwan said he expects the Maryland General Assembly to address several of the commission’s findings in the coming weeks. No significant legislation, though, is expected until next year’s legislative session as the commission continues to work through the fall of 2019.

Kirwan said the leaders of the Maryland General Assembly are committed to considering legislation that implements the recommendations of the commission.

The delegation members made it clear that they consider education reform one of their highest priorities at the state and federal level.

“I think implementing the recommendations of the Kirwan Commission (has) to be the top, number one priority of the state,” Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland, said.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Baltimore, said “the greatest threat to our national security is our failure to properly educate every single one of our children.”

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Mechanicsville, said in a statement that “we must ensure that every student has the opportunity to succeed, from early childhood education through secondary education.”

“It is critically important that we bolster school readiness and college and career readiness as well as address disparities for students of color and students in low-income communities,” Hoyer added. “The delegation is committed to supporting the implementation of Dr. Kirwan’s recommendations and working with local leaders and stakeholders to improve public education in our state.”

By Carolina Velloso

 

Good Seeds: a Garden for Garnet School

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“Good Seeds Garden” plan showing Garnett Elementary School front view on Calvert St. and topside, bird’s-eye view. Plans by South Fork Studios.

Thanks to the Chestertown Garden Club and local parents and teachers, Henry Highland Garnet Elementary school is about to get “a beautiful native landscape and education space,” the Good Seeds Garden. The project is designed to enhance the school’s curb appeal, visually connect the school to nearby downtown Chestertown, and foster pride of place among students, teachers, and residents.

Members of the Good Seeds Garden team attended the Chestertown Mayor and Council and the Kent County Commissioners’ meetings on Jan. 22 to announce their project. Speaking at the town council meeting were Carolyne Grotsky of Downtown Chestertown Association’s Curb Appeal team, Connie Schroth of the Garden Club, and Garnet parents Krista Lamoreaux and Darran Tilghman.

Carolyne Grotsky, Darran Tilghman, Connie Schroth and Krista Lamoreaux attended the Chestertown council meeting to promote the Garnet School Good Seeds Garden.

Grotsky said the project began about a year ago when some Garnet parents asked Curb Appeal to help plant some flowers and landscaping at the school, which they did with some parents and volunteers. The town donated some soil and mulch. But she and the parents decided they could do something better, and so Grotsky went to the Garden Club, who she said “are always looking for good educational projects here in town.” Together they formed a committee to launch the new project.

Tilghman told the council the name of the Good Seeds garden comes from a quote from Henry Highland Garnet, for whom the school is named. Garnet, a Kent County native who went on to national renown in his fight against slavery, said, “In every man’s mind, the good seeds of liberty are planted.” She said that when her family moved to Chestertown about a year and a half ago, they learned that the schools “don’t have a great reputation.” She said the barren appearance of the school as you drive past it on Calvert Street reinforces that image, in contrast to the “vibrant” community she felt when she went inside and engaged with the staff. The garden is a conscious attempt to change the image.

The garden will be coordinated with the schools’ environmental literacy curriculum in order to involve the children in the project. Lamoreaux credited Miles Barnard of South Fork Studio with creating the plans, which feature “edible plants, playful pathways, tree stump seating, and professional murals.” She listed some of the species to be included, such as persimmon, oak and magnolia trees, shrubs such chokeberry, blueberries, native grasses, plus culinary and medicinal herbs. “It’s a bird habitat, it’s a pollinator habitat, it’s a kid habitat,” she said. And the use of native species reduces the need for maintenance once the plants are established. The University of Maryland Extension helped with the selection of plants.

The Garden Club’s Susen Fund, a trust left by the late Shirley Susen for educational projects, has pledged $5,000 as seed money for the garden project. Moreover, Garden Club members will undertake the long-term maintenance of the garden, including additional funding as needed. The Good Seeds team has also submitted a “Clean Up Green Up” grant proposal and is exploring additional grant sources.

Good Seeds Garden logo by Robbi Behr

The Kent County Board of Education has given its approval for the project. Other supporters include South Fork Studio, which created a design for the garden, drawing on suggestions by Garnet teachers and students. Local artist Robbi Behr has created a logo for the project and will also create signage for the completed garden. Shore Rivers will install a rain garden along the Kent Street side of the school to capture runoff and “engage young environmental stewards.” And many of the school’s neighbors have volunteered to help with the project.

For its part, the town of Chestertown will contribute bricks recovered during the renovation of the town-owned marina and install them as part of a brick entrance way leading to a compass rose, making a “visual connection” to the town’s brick-lined streets and maritime history. Town Manager Bill Ingersoll said he was happy to donate the bricks – “they’re all in perfect shape, so I’m really pleased to see them being recycled.” And the county commissioners agreed to remove some large bushes currently in the area that will be used for the garden plot and to donate some receptacles for trash and recycling.

Donations from the general public are also welcome. Donors should send checks payable “CGC/Garnet project” to Carolyne Grotsky, P.O. Box 415, Chestertown, MD 21620.

A community launch event is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 30 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the yellow building on Calvert Street behind the Chestertown library. Groundbreaking and a major segment of the planting is tentatively scheduled to begin on or around Earth Day, April 22.  Stay tuned for more details.

Enlarged birds-eye view of the proposed garden.  Plans for the “Good Seeds Garden” by South Fork Studios.

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Kirwan Maryland Education Commission Chair gives Recommendations to Lawmakers

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Parents can expect to see advances in pre-K, tutoring and special education first, among all of the recommendations of a statewide education reform panel, according to its namesake chairman, William “Brit” Kirwan.

“What parents will see is just a steady drumbeat of improvement in the experiences that their children are having in the schools,” Kirwan told Capital News Service.

The Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, or Kirwan Commission, finalized in December its recommendations and costs to fix large achievement gaps, boost school funding for poorer students, and improve teacher retention for Maryland public schools from 2020 to 2030.

Determining the geographic distribution of the funds is the next step for the commission, which presented an overview of its $3.8 billion plan to a joint legislative committee on Thursday.

“We will see a school system in Maryland that will be the envy of the country and perform at the level of the best performing systems around the world,” if all the recommendations are funded, Kirwan said.

Kirwan said the commission wants $325 million to jumpstart the program this year; Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, R, has allocated $235.8 million in his fiscal year 2020 budget proposal.

Kirwan said the commission is focusing on five major policy areas to be incorporated into the Maryland school system over the next 10 years: Investing in early childhood education; elevating teaching into a high-status profession; creating college and career-ready pathways; ensuring all students have equal access to education; and implementing an oversight board for accountability.

“We have to think of this as a carefully quilted package of initiatives that fit together as a whole,” Kirwan said.

Steven Hershkowitz, policy director of the Maryland State Education Association, said under current funding formulas, free public pre-K is only available to 4-year-olds at income levels 185 percent of the poverty line or below.

Hershkowitz said with the Kirwan plan, free access for public programs would also include 3-year-olds, and expand to income levels at 300 percent of the poverty line or below.

An expanded pre-K program and revamping how college preparedness tests works by creating a 10th grade test that determines career readiness would create new pathways to success for students, Hershkowitz said.

Hershkowitz said the teachers union is more supportive than frustrated by the Kirwan recommendations, but said he is concerned about requiring National Board Certification for teachers.

He said there is no state that has come close to making all teachers reach the “gold-standard,” of certification.

“It’s not a route that every teacher wants to take,” Hershkowitz said. “We would like there to still be more options for teachers.”

Kirwan told lawmakers that Massachusetts, which launched education reform in 1993, was an example for the committee’s recommendations.

The changes increased state aid to schools, set higher goals for academic achievement, and required more accountability in the education system, three points the Maryland plan includes.

However, Sen. Arthur Ellis, D-Charles, said in Massachusetts, minority communities did not excel following the changes; a study released in September found black and Latino students trailed behind white students in reading, grade and income level.

“We have a lot of low income, minority, rural communities left out of the progress,” said Ellis.

Ellis said Kirwan’s recommendations of wrap-around services at community schools that provide mental health, nutrition and physical support in the school building would be a “tremendous solution.”

“A kid shows up and they’re hungry, they’re not going to learn,” said Ellis.

Hershkowitz said Kirwan’s planned investments into a community-school model would be prioritized for areas with high concentrations of poverty.

Sen. Jack Bailey, R-Calvert and St. Mary’s, said a 2016 study showed recommendations for St. Mary’s County would cause a 5 percent increase in funding, but still put them on the same level playing field as other counties.

“Obviously we want a world-class education, but we want a funding formula that works for us, especially in rural counties,” said Bailey. “We want equality.”

Kirwan said Massachusetts’ shortcomings among minorities made the commission “place laser-like focus on equity.”

“We’ve learned from what Massachusetts didn’t do,” said Kirwan. “We can’t leave any kid behind, this has to be for all of our children.”

He said equality was one of the most important recommendations, and told lawmakers that in the plan, more resources would be portioned to schools with high concentrations of impoverished students.

Finding a revenue stream is the third stage of the Kirwan plan, and would be up to the Legislature, Hershkowitz said.

“Education, education, education,” would be the Legislature’s top priority for the 2019 session, Senate President Mike Miller, D-Prince George, Charles and Calvert said earlier this month.

Legislators have tossed around multiple ideas on how to raise the revenue required for the commission, from legalization of marijuana to sports betting.

Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch, D-Anne Arundel, have both entertained the idea of legalizing and taxing recreational marijuana.

“I think that’s (recreational marijuana is) the future,” Busch said earlier this month. “It will be much like overturning prohibition.”

But Delegate Maggie McIntosh, D-Baltimore, said last week she is concerned about budgetary consequences with the state losing an estimated $1.3 million to $1.5 million a day due to the government shutdown.

“I think we have to be careful, and we will be,” said McIntosh.

Kirwan said he recognizes the General Assembly has to deal with the realities of spending affordability and said he hopes they will do all they can to fund the recommendations.

Kirwan said Maryland’s economic future is dependent on a well educated workforce, and that high quality education is the only path out of poverty.

“We can’t afford not to do this,” said Kirwan.

By David Jahng

Industry Need Prompts Marine Tech Training at Chesapeake College

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Chesapeake College is establishing a marine technician lab on the Wye Mills Campus. Pictured here are Anthony Depasquale, Rob Marsh, Cliff Coppersmith, John McNally, and Tom Ellis.

In response to area employer demand, Chesapeake College is launching marine technician training designed to prepare students for careers in the marine service industry.

“With abundant waterways and marine industry heritage, the Eastern Shore needs technicians to support both commercial and recreational boating,” said President Cliff Coppersmith. “We’re committed to meeting the needs of area employers, and pleased that we could respond so quickly to provide marine technician training.”   

Local employers are already behind the training initiative. With a recent $10,000 donation from Rob Marsh of Wye River Marine in Chester, Chesapeake created a Marine Technician Lab and will offer a Yamaha Outboard Motor Certification class this winter.

“Wye River Marine is very excited about our new education partnership with Chesapeake College and Yamaha Outboard,” Marsh said. “The local marine industry is in desperate need of quality trained technicians. This new program will help provide a crucial first step to the area’s marine dealerships’ employment needs.”

Tom Ellis, Chesapeake’s Director of Skilled Trades, has been meeting with area employers to learn about workforce opportunities and training needs. After Marsh urged Chesapeake to develop a marine technician program, the college conducted a survey of local businesses in the marine industry.

“We had overwhelming response. Employers talked about a critical shortage of trained technicians and said they would absolutely hire students if we developed a program,” Ellis said. “The message was clear and things were lining up.  We had an industry need, a market standard curriculum from Yamaha, a generous donor willing to help us get started, and a great instructor ready to teach.”

The next step is enrolling students in the first course. The introductory class, Marine Outboard Engine Systems, begins on Feb. 19.  The two- month class provides a basic understanding of outboard motors and maintenance. No prior experience is required for the course. The course ends with a certification exam.

“The Yamaha Introduction to Outboard Service is designed for the entry-level technician. It will teach the basic skills needed to become a marine technician today. After completing this course and taking

the Yamaha ITOS certification test, students will have a Yamaha Outboard Certification to start their career,” said Anthony Depasquale, District Service Manager for Yamaha Motor Corporation.

John McNally, U.S. Coast Guard Machinery Technician 2nd Class, has 16 years of marine experience and will be the course instructor.

Offered on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 5- 8 pm on the Wye Mills campus, the class is open to students 16 years and older.  The next section will begin on June 4. Registration is now open for both course sections.

The donation from Wye River Marine funded creation of a Marine Technician Lab in the Manufacturing Training Center. The lab, includes four workstations, each with an outboard motor and full complement of tools.

Ellis said future courses could include advanced engine mechanics, electrical systems, diesel engines, marine HVAC and plumbing, and composites for hull repair.

For more information about the marine service or other skills trades training, please contact tellis@chesapeake.edu.  Learn more at www.chesapeake.edu/marine.

 

 

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About Chesapeake College

Founded in 1965 as Maryland’s first regional community college, Chesapeake serves five Eastern Shore counties – Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot. With more than 130,000 alumnae, Chesapeake has 2,300 students and almost 10,000 people enrolled in continuing education programs.

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