Delaware ParentCamp Transforms School and Family Engagement

Traditional family engagement models often look like school staff up front presenting, families receiving and sharing feedback. The ParentCamp model transforms such stand-and-deliver sessions into facilitated dialogues “where the entire room is the expert and everyone brings important and unique perspectives to the table.”

Kuumba Academy Charter School was the first Delaware school to launch a ParentCamp during the 2021-22 school year. This fall, Great Oaks Charter School – Wilmington, Odyssey Charter School and Sussex Montessori School also will engage families in this new model. The U.S. Department of Education has used ParentCamp as a model to provide examples to bring families, educators, and community leaders together in a professional manner.

The design of the ParentCamp model is two-fold: equality conditions plus purpose. Equality conditions mean every person can talk, listen, encourage, and connect with others as feels right to them. Purpose means family, school and community decide not only the session topics but also the purposes around the topics–connect, strengthen and collaborate.

The goal is for participants to have their “universal human needs” met. Participants identified such needs as things such as acceptance, connection, hope, understanding and support.

Kuumba’s first ParentCamp in August – held virtually due to COVID-19 precautions – drew 75 family, school and community participants. Afterwards, parent Jenna Prosceno said she felt “overjoyed

“Such a great support system of educators, parents and community for our children,” she said. “Everything that I heard tonight was so valuable. I’m really excited for this move for my son. I have no worries about him going to a new school this year.”

School staff also value the sessions.

“I’m grateful for the interaction with parents. And most valuable to me was hearing feedback,” Kuumba staff member Christopher Caldwell said after the August session.

Learn more about the great things happening in Delaware schools in this month’s Take Note: Education in the First State eNewsletter: Sign up to receive Take Note at Take Note Newsletter – Delaware Department of Education. Take Note is published the final Wednesday of each month. Media contact: Alison May,, 302-735-4006.

District/charter Educational Support Professionals of the Year honored; one to be named state winner

The Delaware Department of Education is honoring 19 educational support professionals for their outstanding work supporting their students and school communities.


“Whether they are providing individual instructional support, preparing nutritious meals, keeping our buildings safe and clean, safely transporting our students to and from school, providing the technical support our educators and students need or supporting our educators and families through their administrative office support, these individuals are vital to the daily operations of our schools and our students’ academic success,” Secretary of Education Susan Bunting said. “I laud each of these nominees for his or her outstanding work and thank them and all the colleagues whom they represent.”


Now in its second year, the Delaware State Educational Support Professional of the Year (ESPY) 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
  • 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 $1,000 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 $1,500 personal award from DDOE as well as $2,500 to be used for the educational benefit of his or her students.


The 2022 state winner will take over the title from 2021 Delaware Educational Support Professional of the Year Alice Williams, senior administrative secretary at Christina School District’s Jennie E. Smith Elementary.


A selection committee made up of DOE and non-DOE judges is reviewing the local winners’ state applications, and Bunting will announce the state winner later this month.


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


The 19 2022 nominees are:


  • Appoquinimink: Wendy Schweiker, paraprofessional, Appoquinimink High School
  • Brandywine: Angela Hamilton, paraprofessional, Concord High School
  • Caesar Rodney: Alma Bartolomeo, paraprofessional, W.B. Simpson Elementary
  • Cape Henlopen: Bryant Hazzard, paraprofessional, Mariner Middle School
  • Capital: Darien “Stretch” Robinson, paraprofessional, William Henry Middle School
  • Charter Network: Rachael Dallas, systems administrator, MOT Charter School
  • Christina: Clara Doyle, ESL paraprofessional, Leasure Elementary School
  • Colonial: Jennifer Dunford, child nutrition worker, Colwyck Center
  • Delmar: Danielle Youngblood, administrative assistant/eSchool coordinator, Delmar Middle and Senior High School
  • Indian River: Gwendolyn Gillespie, paraprofessional, Georgetown Elementary School
  • Lake Forest: David Thomas, computer lab/technology paraprofessional, Lake Forest East Elementary School
  • Milford: Patrick Seibel, technology specialist, secondary campus
  • New Castle County Vo-Tech: Lindsay Gliniak, senior secretary, St. Georges Technical High School
  • POLYTECH: Sandra S. Henning, information technology help desk technician, POLYTECH High School
  • Red Clay Consolidated: Christopher ChuJoy, autism instructional support paraprofessional, Anna P. Mote Elementary School
  • Seaford: Mark Murphy, custodian, Seaford Middle School
  • Smyrna: Donella Berryman, financial administrative assistant, North Smyrna Elementary School
  • Sussex Tech: Jacques O. Bowe, Jr., paraprofessional, Sussex Technical High School
  • Woodbridge: Virginia Martinez, ESL paraprofessional, Phillis Wheatley Elementary School


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


Media contact: Alison May,, 302-735-4006

20 Delaware Teachers Named Local Teachers of the Year

Twenty Delaware teachers have been nominated to be named Delaware’s 2022 State Teacher of the Year.

Selected from among the almost 10,000 public school teachers in the state, the candidates were nominated by their districts or the Delaware Charter School Network because of their ability to inspire students with a love of learning, demonstration of professional traits and devotion to teaching. Already leaders among the colleagues in their buildings, each now has assumed a role representing educators in their districts or the charter network. In October, one will take over the state title from 2021 Delaware Teacher of the Year Kimberly Stock, an English language arts and English learner teacher from the Red Clay Consolidated School District.

The 2022 District/Charter Teachers of the Year are:

  • Appoquinimink: Amanda Binkley of Odessa High (engineering and computer science)
  • Brandywine: Jahsha Tabron of Brandywine High (special education)
  • Caesar Rodney: Karine Scott of Simpson Elementary (physical education)
  • Cape Henlopen: Maura Johnson of Shields Elementary (third grade)
  • Capital: Morgan Jewell of Hartly Elementary (kindergarten)
  • Charter Network: Diana Magaña of Las Américas ASPIRA Academy (third grade Spanish immersion)
  • Christina: Carla Probst of Downes Elementary (fourth grade)
  • Colonial: Robert Poore of Southern Elementary (physical education)
  • Delmar: Sonja Warner of Delmar High (mathematics)
  • Indian River: Haley Mears of East Millsboro Elementary (special education)
  • Lake Forest: Clarence ‘Clay’ F. Beauchamp II of Lake Forest South Elementary (kindergarten)
  • Laurel: Jessica Pajda of Laurel High (social studies)
  • Milford:  Sarah Simon of Morris Early Childhood Center (kindergarten)
  • New Castle County Vo-Tech: Dustin Craighton of St. Georges Technical High (science)
  • POLYTECH: Debra Castille-Hall of POLYTECH High (English)
  • Red Clay Consolidated: Matthew Marion of Linden Hill Elementary (music)
  • Seaford: Melissa Pinkerton of Seaford High (English)
  • Smyrna: Lauren Mohamed of Sunnyside Elementary (music)
  • Sussex Tech: Stephanie Pegelow of Sussex Technical High (English)
  • Woodbridge: Kira Wagar of Woodbridge High (English)


Media contact: Alison May,, 302-735-4006

Odyssey Charter placed on formal review

In response to complaints received by the Delaware Department of Education regarding Odyssey Charter School’s governance, Secretary of Education Susan Bunting is placing the school on formal review. Formal review is an investigatory process that will allow the Charter School Accountability Committee to determine whether the school has violated terms of its charter and probationary conditions of its charter renewal, including Conditions 1A and 1B. Additionally, Bunting condemns the discriminatory statements regarding Academia Antonia Alonso Charter School allegedly made by board members in a recording of a board meeting publicly released.

State awards federal grants for new, expanding charter schools

The Delaware Department of Education has awarded funds to five charter schools as part of a $10.4 million federal grant Delaware won in October to strengthen the state’s charter school system.


The following sub-grants were awarded based on how the charters plan to:

  • Increase academic achievement for all students in the school as well as educationally disadvantaged students;
  • Collaborate to share best practices with district and charter schools;
  • Engage the families of educationally disadvantaged children on school choice opportunities with a focus on Delaware’s rural and urban areas;
  • Leverage partnerships with local agencies (i.e. social services, behavioral health, mental health, educational support, job placement, before/after care) to enhance school services and ensure sustainability.


School Funds Awarded
First State Montessori School $832,363
Las Americas ASPIRA $750,000
Newark Charter School $550,000
Providence Creek Academy $50,000
Sussex Montessori School $800,000
                                        Total Awarded $2,982,363


New charter schools interested in opening in Delaware and highly effective existing schools looking to add seats or additional locations were eligible to apply for the grant.


Funds from the U.S. Department of Education’s Charter School Program will be distributed over five years to support:


  • Sharing best practices between charter schools and other public schools;
  • Evaluating and enhancing the impact of charter schools on student achievement, families and communities;
  • Strengthening the charter school authorization process; and
  • Providing subgrants for the planning, program design and initial implementation of new charter schools and expansion and replication of highly effective existing charter schools.


The grant also will help the Delaware Department of Education to improve its charter authorization process by enhancing reporting to include additional measures, providing technical assistance to charter school stakeholders and addressing policy to strengthen authorization practices.


Media Contact: Alison May,, 302-735-4006