Milford Teacher Named Delaware 2023 Teacher of the Year

A fifth-grade teacher from the Milford School District is Delaware’s 2023 State Teacher of the Year.

Ashley Lockwood of LuLu Ross Elementary School now is Delaware’s nominee for National Teacher of the Year. She will use her position to advocate for historically underserved populations of students.

With the mindset “We repeat what we don’t repair,” Lockwood said our school systems collect many forms of data, but educators too often don’t discuss or understand the “why” behind certain data trends.

“When we break down data by racial demographic, we see year after year that a significant number of students of color are performing below proficiency levels in both reading and math despite high attendance rates and having parental support,” Lockwood said.

Lockwood started a committee in her district to bring colleagues together in this work.

“Over the course of my career, I have had the privilege of meeting and working with some of the most dedicated educators. I have learned that most of them want equitable outcomes for students of color but do not know where to begin,” she said. “In the work of educational equity, the most important point to realize is that you do not have to look like your students or have the same background in order to advocate for their needs. When I started the Ethnic Minority Affairs Committee in my district, I made it clear that the committee was not going to be made up of only staff of color but of staff who teach students of color.

“We all have the responsibility to close the opportunity gap. The first step is to understand how our own biases and past experiences may show up in our classrooms. Even in our best attempts at inclusion, we must recognize implicit biases in schools do play a significant role in the outcomes of students of color,” Lockwood said. “Recognizing our own biases through professional development, committee involvement, or self-study proves we are committed to removing the barriers that have kept students of color from advancing academically, socially and emotionally.”

Governor John Carney made the announcement during a Dover ceremony to honor the 20 district/charter teachers of the year.

Lockwood said she reflects on a question a graduate school instructor asked: What will your impact be? 

“I strive to make students feel they are accepted and not an exception,” she said. “I want every teacher to think about what impact this advocacy work will have on all students. When we prioritize advocacy for students of color, we will close the opportunity gap in schools across the nation.”

Colleague Michele Davis said Lockwood leads her classroom “with compassion for all yet maintains high expectations for each diverse learner she works with. Ashley’s firm beliefs in rigor and consistency in maintaining the curriculum with fidelity is evident in the triumphs she has with her students.

“Ashley analyzes the content she teaches, ensuring that it is not only applicable, yet also equitable in the approach in which it is taught,” Davis said.

Her principal, Cynthia McKenzie, also praised Lockwood for the relationships she builds with students and their families.

“Miss Lockwood creates a great sense of community within her classroom and with her families as well; they do not hesitate to contact her with questions and/or concerns. She makes herself available at all times, and if she is not able to provide the necessary support or resources, she reaches out to those who can assist,” McKenzie said.

A nine-year classroom veteran, Lockwood earned her Bachelor of Arts in sociology from the University of Delaware and her Master of Education from Wilmington University.

Lockwood inherits from outgoing State Teacher of the Year Jahsha Tabron the responsibility of representing all teachers in Delaware. She will address community groups, business leaders, legislators, and educational organizations to inform the public about the status of Delaware schools. She also will become Delaware’s candidate in the National Teacher of the Year Program, a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers sponsored by the Voya Foundation.

By action of the General Assembly, she will receive a $5,000 grant to use for the educational benefit of her students, as well as two personal grants totaling an additional $5,000. The remaining 19 school district/charter candidates each will receive a personal grant of $2,000. All 20 teachers also received gifts from Advantech Incorporated and their district superintendents or charter principal.

Lockwood also received gifts from the Office of U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, the Delaware State Education Association and Delaware State Teachers of the Year Association; State of Delaware Teacher of the Year commemorative plates from the Division of Motor Vehicles; a full doctorate program from Delaware State University, University of Delaware and Wilmington University; and a 10-karat gold ring from Jostens.

This year’s celebration was sponsored by Voya Financial.

NOTE TO MEDIA: Those interested in arranging interviews with Lockwood on Wednesday should contact Milford School District.

Watch the virtual celebration and announcement online here.

Find information on all 20 nominees here.

Middletown FFA wins forestry career development event

Middletown’s FFA Chapter won the 2016 Forestry Career Development Event (CDE) – a challenging test of tree identification skills, forestry knowledge, and math abilities – held this week at Brecknock Park in Camden. Middletown will represent Delaware in the forestry event at the 89th National FFA Convention & Expo from Oct. 19 to 22, 2016 in Indianapolis, IN. The Milford FFA Chapter placed second and will compete at the Eastern States Exposition or “The Big E!,”  scheduled to take place in Springfield, MA on September 17. Other teams competing were from Newark Charter and Smyrna.

The annual forestry CDE took place under the direction of Delaware Forest Service education specialist Ashley Peebles. This year’s challenge was designed to measure a diverse range of student skills, which included the ability to identify tree species, tree pests and disorders, and forestry equipment.  Students also demonstrated knowledge in reading topographic maps, timber stand improvement, compass and pacing, board-foot volume estimation, and an individual written examination.


The winning Middletown FFA Chapter forestry team: (from left) junior Noah Ancillai, junior Jade Nigro, sophomore Jessica Price, and junior Cade Bosco, along with Jeffrey Billings, FFA Advisor. Middletown will compete at the 89th National FFA Convention & Expo from Oct. 19 to 22, 2016 in Indianapolis, IN.
The winning Middletown FFA Chapter forestry team: (from left) junior Noah Ancillai, junior Jade Nigro, sophomore Jessica Price, and junior Cade Bosco, along with Jeffrey Billings, FFA Advisor. Middletown will compete at the 89th National FFA Convention & Expo from Oct. 19 to 22, 2016 in Indianapolis, IN.


Milford’s team is: (from left) senior Jared Maule, senior Nick Wright, sophomore Cameron Maule, and Jaineil Johnson, and FFA advisor Scott Haldeman.
Milford’s team, which placed second in the FFA forestry event, is: (from left) senior Jared Maule, senior Nick Wright, sophomore Cameron Maule, sophomore Jaineil Johnson, and FFA advisor Scott Haldeman. Milford will compete in the Eastern States Competition or “Big E!” in Springfield, MA on September 17.

According to the FFA, Career Development Events help students “develop the abilities to think critically, communicate clearly, and perform effectively in a competitive job market.” Twenty-four CDEs and one activity cover job skills in everything from communications to mechanics. Some events allow students to compete as individuals, while others allow them to compete in teams.

Milford's Cameron Maule reads a topographic map as part of the forestry challenge
Milford’s Cameron Maule reads a topographic map as part of the FFA forestry event held at Brecknock Park in Camden.

Established in 1928 as the Future Farmers of America, FFA is now officially known as the “National FFA Organization,” and describes itself as an intercurricular student organization for those interested in agriculture and leadership that forms one of three components of agricultural education. FFA is also one of the largest youth groups in the United States: it is comprised of 629,327 student members in grades seven through 12 who belong to one of 7,757 local FFA chapters throughout the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. As such, FFA is also the largest of the career and technical student organizations in U.S. schools.

Middletown FFA student Jessica Price completes the tree pest and disorder section of the annual forestry challenge at Brecknock Park in Camden. Middletown placed first among four teams and will go the National FFA Convention and Expo in Indianapolis in the fall.
Middletown FFA student Jessica Price completes the tree pest and disorder section of the annual forestry challenge at Brecknock Park in Camden. Middletown placed first among four teams and will compete at the National FFA Convention and Expo in Indianapolis in the fall.

Milford Project Pop-Up business turns success into expansion

Delaware Branding Company launches screen printing segment to make T-shirts and more

Milford, DE – Since its inception in 2012, the Project Pop-Up program has been successful in helping 14 businesses sign long-term leases in once-vacant downtown spaces.

But some of these businesses are beginning to show a propensity to go beyond popping up from three months into a year. They are now expanding beyond their original footprint.

The latest business to do so is Delaware Branding Company, which received help with rent and advice from business advisors that allowed owners Mike and Amy Perfetti to move their enterprise into a brick-and-mortar location in downtown Milford.

Delaware Branding Company took off with its offering of graphic design, sign making, body art and DJ services, so much so that the Perfettis have now launched a screen printing production facility and is now making T-shirts, spirit gear for schools, athletic apparel, signs and vinyl lettering.

Gov. Jack Markell said the company is one of the many Delaware small businesses that have helped drive job growth in the state – growth that has far outpaced surrounding states over the past couple of years.

“Mike and Amy Perfetti represent the spirit, determination and talent of Delaware’s small business community,” Gov. Markell said. “The success of Delaware Branding Company is further evidence of why our state is committed to programs like Project Pop-Up that help ensure our entrepreneurs have the opportunity to turn their great ideas into thriving companies. I also applaud the City of Milford and Mayor Bryan Shupe for their efforts to welcome small businesses and work with the state to enhance Delaware’s historic downtowns.”

Delaware Branding Company, which is located at 19 NW Front St., launched through the Project Pop-Up program alongside Patty Cakes, a specialty bakery mere minutes away that has been doing brisk business since it opened last year.

The Perfettis’ business has also followed a trajectory similar to another Milford Project Pop-Up participant, Milford Massage, Wellness and Yoga. That business, which participated in 2013 and is owned by Paige Deiner, started out in a vacant space on Milford’s Front Street provided by the Pop- Up program. Within months, business had quadrupled, and Deiner had to move to a larger space a half mile away. Another business, Royal Treatments in Smyrna, expanded into a vacant space adjacent to its original Pop-Up shop, which is now home to Smyrna Cards and Gifts.

“The initial success of Delaware Branding Company demonstrated yet again that Project Pop-Up works. But its recent expansion shows Pop-Up’s ability to help these entrepreneurs reach a whole new level,” said Ken Anderson, Director of Entrepreneurial and Small Business Support for the Delaware Economic Development Office. “Project Pop-Up is not only finding the next great small business. It’s also finding the next great business on the rise. The sky is the limit for companies like Delaware Branding Company and business owners like Mike and Amy Perfetti.”

The move into screen printing was a natural one for Mike Perfetti, an award-winning graphic designer who teaches screen printing to special needs students. He said the warm welcome that he and his wife received in Milford helped Delaware Branding Company expand into screen printing.

“My wife and I have both opened businesses in the past, but have never felt the kind of connection and support that we have felt in Milford. We did some local advertising, and a bit of signage, but most of our clientele have been walk-in customers and word of mouth,” Perfetti said. “We wouldn’t be here at all without the help of the city, the state and the Project Pop-Up program, which helped us get started. Our success speaks to the potential and promise that this program offers.”

The Perfettis say that they are looking into hiring their special needs trainees to work in the screen printing shop, which would give the trainees a place to socialize and allow them to work with someone who is experienced in accommodating for their special needs.

The expansion into screen printing has also allowed co-owner Amy Perfetti to create a roller derby apparel line, MeanCat Roller Derby Apparel. Amy, who has been a roller derby player for nearly a decade, is working with business partner Maureen Maher of Philadelphia to launch an online store and attend roller derby conventions.

Project Pop-Up is a joint effort between the Delaware Economic Development Office and Downtown Delaware.

“The program has done an excellent job at boosting two key elements of the state’s economic development efforts: Downtowns and small businesses,” said Alan Levin, Director of the Delaware Economic Development Office. “Larger firms will grab the headlines and generate buzz on social media, but these smaller businesses serve as the backbone of our economy.”


Delaware students compete in 2013 Junior Solar Sprint; Students designed, built and raced model cars powered by solar energy

DOVER (May 17, 2013) – With the roar of full-sized NASCAR racers in the background, more than 80 middle and junior high school students from 10 schools participated in Delaware’s 19th Annual Junior Solar Sprint Competition on Wednesday, May 15 near the Monster Monument at Dover International Speedway. DNREC’s Division of Energy and Climate organized the event to educate students about renewable energy and the environment through a creative and exciting competition.Junior Solar Sprint winning design team from Caravel Academy near Bear

Students designed and built model cars powered by solar photovoltaic cells and competed for trophies and the honor of having the fastest and best-designed cars in the state.

This year, the checkered flag went to Beacon Middle School in Lewes for the fastest car, while Caravel Academy in Bear took first place for best design. 

Participating schools also included: Holy Cross School, Dover; Milford Middle School and Milford Academy, Milford; Providence Creek Academy and Smyrna Middle School, Smyrna; Sanford School, Hockessin; Skyline Middle School and Springer Middle School, Wilmington; plus Smyrna Boys & Girls Club.

“Photovoltaic technology makes use of the abundant energy from the sun,” said Crystal Nagyiski, Solar Sprint event coordinator, DNREC Division of Energy and Climate. “We use photovoltaic technology as solar cells to power our watches and calculators, but solar power can do much more – by providing electricity for transportation and to heat and cool our homes and businesses. A solar electric panel provides a reliable, abundant and environmentally-smart source of energy.”  

Solar technologies diversify the energy supply, reduce the country’s dependence on imported fuels, improve air quality, and offset greenhouse gas emissions. A growing solar industry also stimulates our economy by creating jobs in solar products manufacturing and installation. 

The event included many of the same highlights and challenges of racing full-sized racecars, including a rain delay. Racers also competed in time trials and test runs prior to the start of the competition, and pit crews came equipped with spare parts for possible repairs. 

At the end of the day, the winning schools were:

Race Results: Fastest car

1st place: Beacon Middle School, Lewes – Car #18

2nd place: Skyline Middle School, Wilmington – Car #5

3rd place: Springer Middle School, Wilmington – Car #1

4th place: Skyline Middle School, Wilmington – Car #6 

Best Design:

1st place: Caravel Academy, Bear – Car #17

2nd place: Holy Cross School, Dover – Car #15

3rd place: Springer Middle School, Wilmington – Car #2

4th place: Springer Middle School, Wilmington – Car #1

5th place: Milford Middle School, Milford – Car #11

For more information on solar and other alternative sources of energy and the programs of the Delaware Division of Energy and Climate, visit

Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 43, No. 205


Export Program Highlighted at Milford Manufacturer

MILFORD – On December 7, U.S. Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons (both D-Del.) visited The Soap Fairy, a manufacturer of handcrafted soaps that takes part in the Small Business Administration’s State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) Program. Nationally and in Delaware, exports are a growing part of the small business economy. The U.S. Small Business Administration supports this initiative through its Export Loan program and grants authorized by the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, under the State Trade and Export Promotion Program (STEP).

The Delaware STEP grant was nearly $250 thousand last year and another $187 thousand has been authorized for 2013 to be used to help Delaware small businesses start or increase exports. The participants from 2012 have already identified opportunities for more than $3 million in additional sales.

“Exports create jobs in Delaware–that’s what this program is about,” said Governor Markell. “The STEP initiative provides efficient tools to help hardworking small business owners find new opportunities for growth. We’re excited to continue our partnership with the SBA and many local organizations.”

“Programs like this one that make it easier for small businesses to take advantage of global customers are important to our recovering economy,” said Sen. Carper. “The role of government is to create a nurturing environment for business growth, and this is a great example of the government providing small business with the tools to grow.”

“Small businesses like The Soap Fairy have access to growing international markets will help create good jobs and drive our economic recovery,” Senator Coons said. “Small Business Administration programs like the Delaware STEP grant are imperative to give the boost our small businesses need to expand into overseas markets.”

The STEP program aligns with President Obama’s National Export Initiative to double U.S. exports in five years – and in so doing, create two million jobs. The program provides federal government funding for 65 to75 percent of program costs, with states supplying the remainder.

The funding will support participation in foreign trade missions, sales trips, services provided by the Department of Commerce, website translations fees, design of international marketing media, trade show exhibitions, training workshops, and other critical export initiatives.

The SBA Export Loan program assists small businesses by providing a number of loan programs specifically designed to help them develop or expand their export activities.

Small businesses seeking assistance under the STEP program will find more information at and more information on the SBA Export loan program can be found at

Hear directly from more of the 2012 STEP participants in this video, produced by Mobius New Media: