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 entranceway 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.

Kirwan Commission to Recommend Billions More to Raise Teacher Pay

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The Kirwan Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education has begun hanging price tags on its recommendations for major education reform.

Dr. William English Kirwan

The commission chair, former University System Chancellor Brit Kirwan, has emphasized that the state would not just funnel more money into the status quo of Maryland public schools, but would require major changes in how education is delivered and teachers work to justify new spending phased in over 10 years.

Mandated school funding is already the second largest outlay in the state budget.

One of the commission’s major findings is that teachers are paid 25% less than comparable professionals with comparable education and responsibilities, one of the causes for a shortage of qualified teachers and students training to be teachers.

10% pay hike

The commission will be proposing a major bump in teach pay, raising pay for all Maryland public school teachers by 10% between 2020 and 2022, with a minimum teacher salary of $60,000 phased-in by 2024.

The commission is also proposing a new career ladder for teachers and additional certifications for teachers under the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. This will raise average teacher pay in Maryland from the current $69,557 to $93,137 by 2029. In the final year of phase-in, the additional state spending is $1.3 billion, according to preliminary costs estimates by the Department of Legislative Services.

Accompanying these pay raises, the commission is also recommending a reduction in actual classroom teaching time from 80% of the current school day to 60%. This will give teachers more time “to tutor students who need intensive help and work together in teams to use data and observation to identify students who are falling behind and collaborate on getting them back on track, develop highly engaging and effective lesson plans, mentor new and struggling teachers and systematically improve the school’s instructional program using applied research.”

Based on the experience of high-performing schools around the world, the reduction of teaching time will be accompanied by an increase in class sizes justified by more effective curriculum.

“These reductions in instructional time will require an additional 14,685 teachers by 2029 to continue providing the same number of classes,” says the report. Price tag in final year 2029 is another $1.3 billion.

Staggering figures

Conscious that the numbers are staggering, at its Nov. 14 hearing Kirwan emphasized that these are only preliminary numbers.

“These numbers will not reflect any savings that will be made based on the savings of other work groups,” Kirwan said. “No one should leave this room writing or reporting these figures as being the number for any work group. It is a gross number. It has not been netted out.”

“It would be inaccurate to simply add together each element and characterize this as a total cost,” Kirwan went on. “Cost overlaps have not been fully adjusted. Cost savings have not been incorporated.

The commission has not yet tried to work out formulas for how the state and local governments will share in the new costs.

As the costs estimates are rolled out, commission members also noted that there may be additional costs for new buildings associated with increasing the number of teachers or class sizes.

Commission member Crag Rice, a member of the Montgomery County Council, also noted that if you raise the salaries for some, other employees of county government will want similar raises.

By Len Lazarick

Wye River Upper School Hosts Admissions Open House

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Wye River Upper School is hosting an Admissions Open House on Thursday, October 25 from 6 pm – 8 pm on the School’s campus located at 316 S. Commerce Street, Centreville, MD. The evening will include the opportunity to speak to students and staff about the unique Wye River experience, along with the chance to tour the building. Wye River Upper School is a college preparatory high school offering an engaging, supportive and challenging curriculum for students with a variety of learning challenges including ADHD, dyslexia and anxiety. Students who attend Wye River come from several Maryland counties including Queen Anne’s, Talbot, Dorchester, Caroline, and Kent. Transportation for students is available to and from Stevensville, Easton, and Chestertown. Register at wyeriverupperschool.org.

For more information, please contact Katie Theeke, Director of Admissions and Communications at 410-758-2922 or email katietheeke@wyeriverupperschool.org

www.wyeriverupperschool.org

Chesapeake College Experiences Phishing Attack

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A phishing attack targeting Chesapeake College has resulted in the unauthorized access of a limited number of employee email accounts.

Chesapeake President Dr. Clifford Coppersmith said the attack occurred between January 3, 2018 and April 27, 2018. Upon learning of the issue, the College immediately hired a team of external cyber security professionals to conduct an extensive forensic investigation and manual document review to determine the extent of the incident and provide notice as soon as possible.

Beginning this week, a total of 610 students, faculty, staff and prospective employees are receiving notification letters mailed to their last known address informing them that the email accounts contained some of their personal information and may have been accessed by an unauthorized third party.

Based on the investigation, there has been no evidence to date that any of the personal information has been misused, but the College is taking every precaution to notify and protect affected members of the campus community and improve internal controls, according to Coppersmith.

“We regret this incident occurred and have worked as quickly as possible with a team of experienced consultants to modify and improve our cyber security practices,” he said. “These measures will not only enhance the security and privacy of personal information to keep it in our possession but also reduce the likelihood of future attacks of this kind.”

Coppersmith said that only individuals who receive notification letters from the College over the next two weeks are affected by the phishing attack.

The letters detail what personal information has potentially been impacted and provide guidelines on steps the individuals can take to further protect their information. Individuals whose Social Security numbers and/or driver’s license numbers were possibly affected are being offered a complimentary, one-year membership to a credit monitoring service.

“We are not alone in facing this difficult issue,” Coppersmith said. “Unfortunately, academic institutions across the United States are cyber targets and have experienced similar attacks. It underscores the importance of taking information security seriously and exercising appropriate password protocols to protect your, and others’, personal information.”

Individuals with any questions should call Chesapeake’s dedicated and confidential toll-free response line at 877-877-2596. The response line is staffed with professionals familiar with the incident and knowledgeable on what can be done to protect against misuse of information. The response line is available Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern time.

 

Spy Spotlight: Shore Explorations with Patrick Rogan

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Most of Patrick Rogan’s professional life is that of a designer of exhibitions for museums. His work, at that of his firm, assemble, works collaboratively with those institutions to tell compelling stories through images and other multimedia tools. The results of which can been seen in such nationally known museums as the , National Building Museum, Carnegie Institution for Science, or the Maryland Science Center, and more locally with the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, Horn Point Laboratories, the Talbot Historical Society, and Stories of the Chesapeake Heritage Area and Historic Easton.

But through the process of developing these installations, Patrick also saw that these techniques could also apply directly to the learning process of children. The act of gathering material, doing research, and designing presentations of findings fits exceptionally well in a new era for the modern classroom, where students can use the same tools to examine the past, present, and future of the Mid-Shore.

Drawing from the life and legacy of Talbot County’s Frederick Douglass, Rogan is working closely with Talbot County Public Schools, the Frederick Douglass Honor Society, and the Talbot Historical Society during his Bicentennial year on two week interpretive workshops with local sixth and seventh graders, and TCPS teachers Colin Stibbins and Kyndell Rainer, to lead them through an exploration of our history, ecosystem, and culture to seek a better understanding of their past, present and future on the Mid-Shore.

The Spy talked to Patrick at the Waterfowl Building last week about Shore Explorations one month studio where participants will be using the legacy of Douglass and some of the Talbot Historical Society’s remarkable photographs as essential tools in sharing their hopes for the future for our area.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. We have also added clips of a video that the students created this summer as another example of Shore Explorations special approach. For more information about Shore Explorations please go here.

 

 

 

Kent School to Host Secondary School Fair

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On Monday, October 1, Kent School will host a secondary school fair for students in Grades Seven and Eight and their parents or guardians. The event will be held in the M.V. “Mike” Williams Gymnasium from 6:30 pm through 8:00 pm. The fair is free and open to the public. Several independent and area public schools, both day schools and boarding schools will participate. A partial list of participating schools includes The Gunston School, Mercersburg Academy, St. Andrew’s School, West Nottingham Academy, Madeira School, Westtown School, Woodberry Forest School, Kent County High School and Queen Anne’s County High School.

According to Tricia Cammerzell, Assistant Head of School for Advancement, “The purpose of the fair is to bring as many secondary schools together in one place at one time so students and parents can get an overview of the wonderful regional options for high school. This is an opportunity for families to speak with admission representatives and decide if they want to delve further into the admission process for a particular school.”

The secondary school process at Kent School is an intentional one that includes an academically rigorous program coupled with faculty support, small class discussions and student accountability. Nancy Mugele, Head of Kent School said, “At Kent School we are proud of the work we do for each student to prepare them for success in their chosen high school. We conduct mock interviews, create classroom situations similar to high school classes and write in-depth recommendations. As stated in our mission, we are invested in ‘helping each student reach their full potential for academic, athletic, artistic and moral excellence’. The secondary school fair is an important tool to help guide students and parents through the discovery, application and enrollment process.” Mugele continued, “I hope families from throughout the Kent County and Queen Anne’s County communities will join us to learn more about some of these exceptional schools.”

Kent School is located at 6788 Wilkins Lane in historic Chestertown. For more information call 410-778-4100 ext. 110 or visit www.kentschool.org. Kent School serves children from Preschool through Grade Eight on its scenic campus on the bank of the Chester River.

Mid-Shore History: William Smith’s Washington College with Colin Dickson

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It is a common mistake to assume that George Washington was the founder of Washington College in 1782. That was not the case, but the future first president of the United States did agree to allow the use his name for an entirely new liberal arts college in Chestertown as well as hard cash as a donation, which was hard to come by after the Revolution.

No, that honor goes to William Smith, a brilliant academic who had helped start the College of Philadelphia (now University of Pennsylvania) with Ben Franklin and became its first leader. Forced to leave Philly due to his loyalist politics, he came to Chestertown at the request of the town, to start a revolutionary new form of undergraduate education.

In the fall of each year, as Washington College starts its new semester, we like to share an interview with former WC professor Colin Dickson in 2012 about William Smith and how extraordinarily lucky Chestertown was to have such a visionary and innovator in American education start their new school.

This video is approximately ten minutes in length. For more information about Washington College please go here

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