District/Charter Educational Support Professionals of the Year Celebrated; One to be Named State Honoree

The Delaware Department of Education is honoring 20 educational support professionals for their outstanding work supporting their students and school communities.

 

“Educational support professionals are vital to the success of our schools. Their work often is behind the scenes and rarely gets the recognition it deserves. I’m honored to have the opportunity to celebrate these outstanding employees and spotlight the important roles they and the colleagues they represent play supporting our school communities,” Secretary of Education Mark Holodick said.

 

Now in its third year, the Delaware State Educational Support Professional of the Year (ESPOY) program recognizes outstanding service by school employees who provide direct or indirect services to students and their families. The Delaware Charter School Network also is invited to participate. Employees considered for the award include:

  • Paraprofessionals
  • Custodial staff
  • Secretaries
  • Nutritional staff
  • Information technology staff
  • School- and district-employed bus drivers
  • School- and district-employed bus aides

 

From those nominated at a building level, one educational support professional of the year moves forward to represent each district or the charter school community in the state program. Each district/charter network winner receives a $2,000 personal award from the winner’s district or charter school. The state program then chooses one person annually to serve as Delaware’s Educational Support Professional of the Year. State winners receive an additional $3,000 personal award from DDOE as well as $5,000 to be used for the educational benefit of his or her students.

 

The 2023 state winner will take over the title from 2022 Delaware Educational Support Professional of the Year David Thomas, computer lab/technology paraprofessional at Lake Forest East Elementary School in the Lake Forest School District.

 

A selection committee made up of DOE and non-DOE judges is reviewing the local winners’ state applications, and the state honoree will be announced at Delaware’s first ever statewide ESPOY celebration the evening of Wednesday, Dec. 7 in Dover. The event will be live-streamed to DOE’s YouTube and facebook accounts following the dinner portion of the evening; likely this will begin shortly after 7 p.m.

 

DOE is excited to recognize these outstanding professionals whose work is vital to students’ success.

 

The 20 2023 honorees are:

 

  • Appoquinimink: Claudine Strawbridge, paraprofessional, Cantwell’s Bridge Middle School
  • Brandywine: Meg Brown, senior secretary/registrar, Concord High School
  • Caesar Rodney: Jossette Threatts, service/instructional paraprofessional, George Welch Elementary School
  • Cape Henlopen: Brittany Hoeller, paraprofessional, Lewes Elementary School
  • Capital: David Hom*, operations technician, Office of Technology
  • Charter Network: Eric Winston, nutrition coordinator/facilities manager/assistant athletic director, Early College School @ DSU
  • Christina: Matthew Stearn, paraprofessional, Networks School for Employability Skills
  • Colonial: Joseph Davis, custodian, John G. Leach School
  • Delmar: Michelle Niblett, paraprofessional, Delmar Middle and High schools
  • Indian River: Arleth Avalos, paraprofessional, Indian River School District Early Learning Center
  • Lake Forest: Heather Hitchens, paraprofessional, Lake Forest Central Elementary School
  • Laurel: Ashley Pugh, secretary, Laurel High School
  • Milford: Lisa McQueen, paraprofessional/behavior interventionist, Lulu Ross Elementary School
  • New Castle County Vo-Tech: Michele Marra, administrative assistant to the superintendent, District Office
  • POLYTECH: Jodine Cybulski*, paraprofessional, POLYTECH High School
  • Red Clay Consolidated: Clare Lawrence, chief custodian, McKean High School
  • Seaford: Daniel Hopkins, chief custodian, West Seaford Elementary School
  • Smyrna: Pamela Hilliard, paraprofessional/behavior interventionist, Sunnyside Elementary School
  • Sussex Tech: Kim Speicher, administrative assistant to the superintendent, District Office
  • Woodbridge: Ricki L. Truitt, student services/guidance secretary, Woodbridge High School

 

 *Has left district employment; not participating in state program

 

Find photos of the nominees and learn more about the program here.

 

Media contact: Alison May, alison.may@doe.k12.de.us, 302-735-4006


2023 Delaware Teacher of the Year to be Named Next Month

Twenty of the state’s top teachers will be honored at a celebration on Oct. 11, when one of them will be named Delaware’s 2023 Teacher of the Year.

 

The candidates were nominated by their districts or the Delaware Charter Network during the 2022 calendar year because of their superior ability to inspire students with a love of learning, exemplary demonstration of professional traits and strong sense of dedication and devotion to teaching.

 

Each nominee submitted a detailed application exemplifying his or her teaching philosophy. Five Delaware Department of Education staff members independently evaluate each application. A former Delaware Teacher of the Year and department staff member observe each candidate in the classroom. Taking into consideration the ratings from the application review and observations as well as a recorded presentation by the nominees, another independent panel of non-department judges then selects the one teacher who will serve as the 2023 Delaware Teacher of the Year.

 

The teacher chosen to become the State Teacher of the Year will become Delaware’s nominee in the national program, a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers in partnership with the Voya Foundation.

 

By action of the General Assembly, the Delaware Teacher of the Year will receive a $5,000 grant to use for the educational benefit of his or her students, as well as a personal grant of $3,000.  Additionally, all nominees will receive a $2,000 grant from the state.

The celebration begins with a social hour at 5 p.m. followed by a 6 p.m. dinner at Modern Maturity Center in Dover. The announcement comes at the end of the night. Information about live-streaming will be shared next month. Funding for the award ceremony is provided by a grant from Voya Financial and support from the Delaware General Assembly.

 

The 2023 District/Charter Teachers of the Year are:

 

Appoquinimink: Elizabeth Kelly Koch of Redding Middle (American sign language)

Brandywine: Uchechi Amudipe of Concord High (career and technical education)

Caesar Rodney: Missy Snyder of Welch Elementary (second grade)

Cape Henlopen: Rony Flechier of Cape Henlopen High (mathematics)

Capital: Amy Bowen of North Dover Elementary (fourth grade)

Charter Network: Daniel Primiani of Academia Antonia Alonso (social studies)

Christina: Jennifer Cohen of the Brennen School (special education)

Colonial: Beth Twardus of McCullough Middle (mathematics)

Delmar: Mary Pierce-Cass of Delmar High (science)

Indian River: Jennah Truitt of Lord Baltimore Elementary (kindergarten)

Lake Forest: Lindsey Saxton of Lake Forest High (agricultural science)

Laurel: Erin Razzano of Laurel Middle (English language arts)

Milford:  Ashley Lockwood of Lulu Ross Elementary (fifth grade)

New Castle County Vo-Tech: Greta K. Humphrey of Delcastle Technical High (special education)

POLYTECH: Amanda Waggoner of POLYTECH High (Spanish)

Red Clay Consolidated: Terri T. Pruitt of Cab Calloway School of the Arts (English language arts)

Seaford: Kiara Briggs of Blades Elementary (kindergarten)

Smyrna: Lindsey Alexitch of Smyrna High (social studies)

Sussex Tech: Matthew Lewis of Sussex Technical High (social studies)

Woodbridge: Sarah Burress of Phillis Wheatley Elementary (fourth grade)

Find photographs of the honorees here.

 

Media contact: Alison May, alison.may@doe.k12.de.us, 302-735-4006


Middle and High School Students Win Digital Mapping Awards

Six students took home $100 prizes each as Delaware’s winners of the Esri’s 2022 ArcGIS US School Competition.

Secretary of Education Mark Holodick congratulated the winners in an recognition event in Dover Thursday afternoon.

The winners with links to their projects are:

  • Eric Lewis, a seventh grade home school student (1st place for middle school competition)
  • Natalie Lewis, a sophomore at Caesar Rodney High School (1st place for high school competition)
  • Alejandro Lobo, a senior at Newark High School (2nd place for high school competition)
  • Wendy Santana Medina, a junior at Newark High School  (3rd place for high school competition)
  • Mariam Samake, a junior at Newark High School (Honorable mention)
  • Naina Sharma, a senior at Newark High School (Honorable mention)

Eric Lewis and Natalie Lewis also represented Delaware in the national competition, where Natalie received recognition.


School Behavioral Health Professionals Honored

School employees who support the mental health of Delaware students are being recognized for their work.

 

The state will name its first Delaware Behavioral Health Professional of the Year later this month. Seventeen* school districts and the Delaware Charter School Network named local Behavioral Health Professionals of the Year for 2022. Following an application and interview process, one of those 18 will be named the state honoree.

 

“I am grateful that through this new recognition program we now have a way to spotlight the critical support these employees provide to our students and families,” Secretary of Education Mark Holodick said. “Due to the nature of their work, these professionals build close, trust-dependent relationships. They help students and families navigate challenges and find the supports they need so they can be healthy and successful in school and life. The trauma and challenges our students and families experienced through COVID-19 has only grown our state’s already great need for this work. Behavioral health professionals are critical to the success of our schools and communities.”

The Delaware State Behavioral Health Professional of the Year (BHPY) program is administered by the Delaware Department of Education (DDOE). The program recognizes outstanding service by school employees who are health care practitioners or human service providers who offer services for the purpose of improving an individual’s mental health. The Delaware Charter School Network also is invited to participate. Employees considered for the award include:

  • School counselors
  • School social workers
  • Licensed clinical social workers
  • School psychologists
  • School nurses

From those nominated at a local level, one behavioral health professional of the year moves forward to represent each district or the charter school community in the state program. Each district/charter network winner receives a $2,000 personal award from the winner’s district or charter school. The state program then chooses one person annually to serve as Delaware’s Behavioral Health Professional of the Year. State winners receive an additional $3,000 personal award from DDOE as well as $5,000 to be used for the educational benefit of his or her students.

The 2022 District/Charter Behavioral Health Professionals of the Year are:

 

  • Brandywine School District: Sheila Pickering, school nurse, Forwood Elementary School
  • Caesar Rodney School District: Maria Romanko, school psychologist, Caesar Rodney High School
  • Cape Henlopen School District: Felicia Kaas, school psychologist, Shields Elementary School
  • Capital School District: Andrew Royer, school psychologist, Capital Early Childhood Program
  • Charter School Network: Debbie Holstein, school nurse, ASPIRA Academy
  • Christina School District: Michelle Cain, school psychologist, Christiana High School
  • Colonial School District: Devon D. Stockton, school therapist, George Read Middle School
  • Delmar School District: Ilah Preston, school counselor, Delmar Middle School
  • Indian River School District: Amy Goodhue, clinical counselor, Long Neck Elementary School
  • Lake Forest School District: Jana Jarrell, school nurse, North Elementary School
  • Laurel School District: Catina Goff, school counselor, Laurel High School
  • Milford School District: Rosa DiPiazza, school psychologist, Mispillion Elementary School
  • New Castle County Vo-Tech School District: Tenika Jean-Paul, school psychologist, St. Georges Technical High School
  • POLYTECH School District: Peggy McKibbin, school nurse, POLYTECH High School
  • Red Clay Consolidated School District: Eric Pizzini, school psychologist, Cab Calloway School of the Arts
  • Seaford School District: Jordan Forston, school counselor, West Seaford Elementary School
  • Sussex Technical School District: Michael Firch, school counselor, Sussex Technical High School
  • Woodbridge School District: Dawn Ellis, school nurse, Woodbridge High School

 

Find photos of the nominees here.

 

*Appoquinimink did not participate in the 2022 program. Smyrna has recognized school counselor Toni Hendricks of John Bassett Moore Intermediate School as its 2022 District Behavioral Health Professional of the Year. The district selection was made after the state application and interview process so Smyrna was not included in the state program this year.

 

Media contact: Alison May, alison.may@doe.k12.de.us, 302-735-4006


Governor Carney Announces Public Service Recognition Week, May 1-7

State employees honored for excellence and commitment to public service

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney on Monday signed a proclamation announcing May 1 – 7, 2022 as Public Service Recognition Week. This week has been celebrated during the first week of May since 1985 to honor the contributions of federal, state, county, and local government employees. Governor Carney, cabinet members, and the business community will recognize the inspirational service and commitment of Delaware’s public servants through a series of videos highlighting the extraordinary work of state employees. 

“Our state employees work hard every day to make Delaware a better place to live and work,” said Governor Carney. “These past few years have been especially challenging, but we are moving forward thanks to the commitment and perseverance of our employees. With the support of Delaware’s business community, we are able to present some of our most outstanding employees with well-deserved awards. I’d like to thank all of our public servants for their work to improve the lives of Delawareans.”

During Public Service Recognition Week, individuals and teams of state employees will be honored for their excellence and commitment to public service in the last year – including employees who identified innovative new ways to deliver state services, and those who demonstrated acts of heroism and courage. 

Awards will be presented in the following categories:

  • Tuesday, May 3 – Delaware Award for Excellence and Commitment in State Service 
  • Wednesday, May 4 – Governor’s Team Excellence Award (Champions Award, Commitment Award)
  • Thursday, May 5 – GEAR P3 Innovation & Efficiency Award and GEAR P3 Trailblazer Award
  • Friday, May 6 – Delaware Award for Heroism

 

Recognition videos will premiere each day at 11:00 a.m. on youtube.com/johncarneyde.

 

Delaware Award for Excellence and Commitment in State Service Award

The Delaware Award for Excellence and Commitment in State Service Award is presented to up to five State of Delaware employees, or small groups of up to five employees, who exemplify the highest standards of excellence and commitment in state service. In addition, the GEAR P3 Trailblazer Award provides special recognition for those individuals whose accomplishments demonstrate leadership in application of continuous improvement best practices.

Recipients of the 2021 award are:

  • Amber Clendaniel, Department of Human Resources
  • Cynthia Coleman, Superior Court
  • Anne Fenimore, Gloria Henry, and Vertie Lee (with Sakinaa Rock), Department of State
  • Casey Kim, Department of Technology and Information 

 

GEAR P3 Trailblazer Award 

  • Holly Reynolds, Department of Finance

 

Governor’s Team Excellence Awards

This award category includes the GEAR P3 Innovation & Efficiency Award; Champions Award; and Commitment Award. The Governor’s Team Excellence Awards, presented annually to a team of six to 20 state employees, encourages teamwork by recognizing groups of state employees for their efforts to use continuous quality improvement tools to excel in leadership, team dynamics and communication to produce superior customer service and tangible results. 

GEAR P3 Innovation & Efficiency Award

This top award is a cooperative initiative between the State of Delaware and the business community. This public private partnership honors teams that not only use continuous quality tools to achieve outstanding outcomes but also develop innovative designs and process, establish best practices, and produce verifiable results that are sustainable, scalable, and adaptable to other areas of government. These teams serve as clear role models for other organizations. The recipient of this year’s award is:

  • Delaware Overdose and Police Diversion Program Team, Delaware State Police, Department of Health and Social Services, and Department of Justice

Champions Award 

This award recognizes teams that demonstrated a superior knowledge of continuous quality improvement techniques, produced tangible results, and increased efficiencies, customer satisfaction, or cost savings. Recipients of this year’s award are:

  • DelDOT Vaccination Site Coordination Team, Department of Transportation 
  • Office of Unclaimed Property Money Match Team, Department of Finance, Office of State Treasurer, and Department of Technology and Information

Commitment Award

This award recognizes teams that demonstrate a commitment to developing and applying quality improvement tools and techniques and achieving results that lead to continuous improvement in their organization. The recipients of this year’s award are:

  • iLEAD Delaware Leadership Program Team, Department of Human Resources
  • DART Connect Micro-Transit Pilot Program Team, Department of Transportation/Delaware Transit Corporation
  • Port of Wilmington Expansion Project Permitting Team, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control

 

The GEAR P3 Trailblazer Award and the GEAR P3 Innovation and Efficiency Award were made possible through the support of the Government Efficiency and Accountability Review (GEAR) Board and a Public-Private Partnership (P3) between the State of Delaware and the Delaware business community. Private Sector contributors of the awards include Bank of America, Corporation Service Company (CSC), ChristianaCare, Delmarva Power, Highmark BCBS Delaware, JP Morgan Chase Bank, M&T Bank, The Precisionists Inc. (TPI), W.L. Gore & Associates, and WSFS Bank.

“As chairman of the Governor’s Efficiency & Accountability Review (GEAR) P3 Taskforce for Governor Carney’s GEAR initiative, I am thrilled that the private sector, with the strong backing of the Delaware Business Roundtable and the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce, has partnered again with The State of Delaware on the Public-Private Partnership (P3) Governor’s Innovation & Efficiency, and Trailblazer Awards. This program is a terrific step toward better government, and in recognizing state employees and teams on outstanding accomplishments,” said Ernie Dianastasis, CEO of The Precisionists (TPI).

 

Delaware Award for Heroism

The Delaware Award for Heroism, established in 2013, recognizes state employees for acts of heroism and courage. The 2021 recipients are:

  • Barbara Bell, Yvette Fenn, Isaac Harris, Alethea Miller, and Diane Penland (with Elena Dill, Amy Fierro, Debra Remner, Melissa Sangare, and Glenroy Warner), Department of Health and Social Services.
  • Manuel Carlis and Sabrina Ellerbe, Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families
  • Deanna Carnevale and Shane Russell, Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families
  • Donald Deputy (with Eric Jensen), Department of Transportation
  • Travis Schirmer, Department of Transportation
  • Jonathan Simmons and Richard Wyatt, Department of Transportation

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