DNREC-sponsored ‘Butterflies and Clean Water’ presentations set for March 2 and 30 as part of Reclaim Our River Program

LAUREL – The DNREC Division of Watershed Stewardship’s Reclaim Our River Program – Nanticoke Series, in partnership with the Delaware Nature Society’s Abbott’s Mill Nature Center, and the Nanticoke Watershed Alliance, will host two free presentations in March on saving the monarch butterfly, gardening for butterflies, and the importance of clean water.

The presentations will address the monarch butterfly population’s decline of more than 90 percent worldwide over the past 20 years. This is a critical environmental loss, since flowering plants depend on pollinators, including butterflies, to reproduce. Pollinators enable flowering plants to purify water and prevent erosion, through roots that hold the soil in place, and provide foliage that buffers the impact of rain.

On March 2, butterfly enthusiast Mike McFarlin of Milton will speak about his efforts to help repopulate Delaware’s monarch butterfly population, by raising hundreds of them each summer. In addition, he will explain how attendees can volunteer as stewards, and adopt an area of land that supports pollinator habitat.

The second presentation, on March 30, will be led by Alice Mohrman of the Delaware Nature Society’s Abbott’s Mill Nature Center and focus on gardening for butterflies. She will also provide tips on how to landscape yards with attractive native plants that support wildlife habitat, and help reduce waterway pollution.

A limited number of free milkweed seeds will be available to participants, along with information on activities that support clean water. Attendees also will learn about the 2020 Reclaim Our River–Nanticoke Series, which offers numerous opportunities to learn techniques for keeping local waterways clean. Participants are encouraged to arrive early.

Both presentations will begin at 6 p.m. at the Laurel Library, located at 101 East 4th Street, Laurel, DE 19956.

For more information about the presentations, contact Alice Mohrman at 302-422-0847, or alice@delawarenaturesociety.org. For more information on the Reclaim Our River Program, contact Philip Miller at 302-608-5468, or Philip.miller@delaware.gov.

Contact: Phil Miller, DNREC Division of Watershed Stewardship Nonpoint Source Program, 302-608-5468, philip.miller@delaware.gov

DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife to close Phillips Landing boat ramp for reconstruction

DOVER – DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife announced today the anticipated nearly six-month closure of the Phillips Landing Boat Ramp west of Laurel for reconstruction and expansion of the boat ramp beginning Monday, Nov. 12 and continuing through April 30, 2019, weather permitting. The portion of the parking area closest to the boat ramp used by the contractor for construction will be closed during this time, with the remaining portion of the parking lot open to the public for parking and bank fishing access.

The project includes expanding the current two-lane boat ramp into a three-lane boat ramp with new courtesy docks, repaving the parking lot, installing a kayak launching dock, and other site upgrades.

Boaters can use other nearby Division of Fish & Wildlife boat ramps located in Laurel and Seaford to access Broad Creek and the Nanticoke River.

For more information on the Phillips Landing boat ramp project, please call the DNREC Division of Fish & Wildlife Fisheries Section at 302-739-9914.

Media contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 48, No. 307


Laurel School District sets clear vision for students, educators


Laurel School District Superintendent Shawn Larrimore and team have led gains in student growth for three consecutive years

Once one of the lowest-performing school districts in Delaware, Laurel School District has been among the state leaders in student growth in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics for three consecutive years.

While Laurel leaders cite several factors as contributing to such gains, connecting them all is strong leadership. That starts at the top with Superintendent Dr. Shawn Larrimore and includes the district- and building-level administrative teams he has built over the past three years.

“Our leadership team definitely has a vested interest in Laurel,” said Amy Handy, a seventh-grade reading enrichment teacher at Laurel Middle School. “In my 26 years of teaching experience, I have never experienced a leadership team who honestly believes that ALL students can achieve success when given the necessary tools.” (Related: This video highlighting Laurel’s work around educational justice.)

Larrimore himself is a Laurel success story. A native of the rural Sussex County town, he lived in many of the low-income housing units that many of Laurel’s students reside in today. An All-State football player and captain for Laurel when the school won consecutive state championships in 1986 and 1987, he graduated from Laurel High School in 1988 before heading to Salisbury University (Md.) to pursue an education degree.

He started his career in the classroom teaching American literature at Seaford Senior High School and Delmar High School before taking administrative posts in Delmar as an assistant principal, principal and chief academic officer.

He came home to take Laurel’s top job in April 2015. Along the way, he earned a master’s degree and doctorate from Wilmington University.

Today his own children – seventh grader Delaney and 11th grader Colin – are students in the district, excelling in academics, athletics and extracurricular activities.

“Dr. Larrimore motivates us and allows us to have a shared purpose in meeting district goals. He provides us with a clear vision, which in turn makes us want to be successful,” said Gina Voges, a fourth grade ELA teacher at Laurel Elementary School who has worked in Laurel for 17 years. “I’ve always felt comfortable discussing with him various topics because he makes you feel that you are worth his time.

“That translates to my classroom because I feel supported. If I feel supported I know my students will feel supported by me,” she said. “A positive tone has been set in my classroom because Dr. Larrimore has set a positive tone with us. It’s all about the trickle-down effect.”

Teachers and administrators alike talk about a changed culture in Laurel, one in which collaboration is key and success for every student is expected.

North Laurel Elementary Principal David Hudson said his school has made some important changes over the past year such as daily shared planning time for teachers (often called professional learning communities or PLCs), further implementation of Smarter interim assessments and collaboratively built common assessments in all grade levels. But he attributes his students’ great gains to teachers “truly embodying what it means to collaborate.

“Our teachers listened to each other in an engaged, purposeful and meaningful way that I had not seen in my previous years,” Hudson said. “We no longer talked about ‘my successes’ and ‘your successes’ but ‘our success.’

Teachers celebrated each other and critiqued each other through peer observations and collaborative lesson planning and data analysis that truly went to another level.”

Voges agreed, saying building relationships with students and colleagues had a big impact on students’ improvement.

“Our students trusted us to lead them in the right direction. They knew our expectations and wanted to be the best. Working during PLC time with our colleagues allowed us to share, be on the same page, and build on our strengths as a team,” she said.

And those expectations were set at the top.

“I feel the culture has changed now because we have a leader who truly is dedicated to making a difference in Laurel,” Handy said. “He is a product of this community and school system and very proud of that.

“The expectations for all of the stakeholders are high in Laurel now, and there is no turning away from that,” she said. “The morale is 100 percent better and I believe that is because the staff is trusting of the leadership.”

Handy said Larrimore brought in a team of leaders who share his vision and mission for Laurel.

“They collectively got their heads together, studied our demographics and data. They developed a strategic plan that has proven to be effective,” she said.

Larrimore and his team have been able to succeed because they have a supportive school board, whose members trust their academic expertise.

“As non-educators, our trust is with our superintendent, Dr. Larrimore. With his knowledge and experience, he has brought the Laurel School District the people and resources needed for our students to achieve and succeed,” Laurel Board of Education President Linda Wintjen said. “The school board is ecstatic with the results to date, and we look forward to the future accomplishments.”

Like the Laurel Board of Education, the district’s administrators and teachers are looking to the future as well. Laurel has made great growth, but its starting point was at the bottom of the state.

“The key for Laurel is not allowing ourselves to get distracted or comfortable with our current success, but rather embrace the culture of innovation and growth that has fueled our success over the last three years,” Assistant Superintendent Ashley Giska said. “We can continue to push our practices and expectations to a higher level by finding the best curriculum and resources for our students, building strong models for blended learning and RTI (Response to Intervention), and by continually supporting individual teacher growth and leadership.”

Dr. Rick Evans, newly appointed director of academic supports and former Laurel Middle School principal, said the district has developed and implemented strong systems and practices in the district.

“We have trained people on those systems and practices. We simply have to make sure we are doing what we say we are doing, and I have no doubt that we will have continued success,” he said.

Wintjen said the district now has strong community backing, which will support continued success.

“The community needs to believe in our district, and we need to give them good reason to do so. A few years ago, the district did not have that respect,” she said. “Students were leaving our district to school choice elsewhere. In the last three years, few have left, and we are seeing students from other districts choicing into ours. Consistent communication from our superintendent, our administrators, and our staff has led to the community believing in our district again, as it once did.”


For more information on the great things happening in schools across Delaware, sign up to receive Take Note: Education in the First State at http://www.doe.k12.de.us/takenote. Take Note is published the final Wednesday of each month.

DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife asking public to report dumping, vandalism at Nanticoke Wildlife Area

LAUREL – DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife needs help from the public to stop dumping and vandalism at the Robert L. Graham Nanticoke Wildlife Area near Laurel, notably at an unpaved crossroad connecting Phillips Landing Road with Sharptown Road. Past dumping and vandalism resulted in closure of this road.

Recently, the 4,415-acre Nanticoke Wildlife Area has been plagued by an array of illegal activity, including: dumping trash, furniture, appliances, scrap tires, and yard waste; damaging access roads with vehicles; and destroying access gates within the wildlife area.

While Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police monitor the Nanticoke Wildlife Area closely, the public can help conserve and reduce damage to public wildlife areas by reporting suspicious or illegal activity to Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police at 302-739-4580 or 800-523-3336.

Follow Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police on Facebook, www.facebook.com/pages/Delaware-Fish-Wildlife-Natural-Resources-Police.

Follow Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police on Twitter, https://twitter.com/DE_FW_NRPolice.

Contact: Lt. John McDerby, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police, 302-739-9913 or 302-354-1386, or Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 48, No. 170

DNREC’s Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police searching for suspect in assault of an officer

Daniel A. Allen 
Daniel A. Allen

LAUREL – DNREC Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police are searching for a suspect in an assault on one of their officers in the Nanticoke Wildlife Area near Laurel last night.

Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers are attempting to locate Daniel A. Allen, 21, of Seaford. Allen was contacted by Fish & Wildlife officers when he was found trespassing after hours in the Nanticoke Wildlife Area. During an associated traffic stop, the suspect assaulted one of the officers, fled on foot, and jumped into Broad Creek. Allen was last seen by pursuing officers swimming towards the opposite shoreline.

Delaware State Police officers and Delaware State Police Aviation responded to assist with a ground search. Additional Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers and local fire departments responded with vessels and conducted a search of Broad Creek, but the suspect was not located.

The ongoing investigation into the incident is being conducted by Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police. Anyone with information regarding this incident or the location of Daniel A. Allen are asked to contact Lieutenant Casey Zolper, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police, at 302-381-5718.

Media Contacts: Lt. John McDerby, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police, 302-739-9913 or 302-354-1386, or Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902