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.

Migrant Summer School Supports Students, Families

Delaware’s Migrant Education Program’s (MEP) Summer School Project is a seven-week program hosted during the summer that provides instructional and supportive services to migratory children whose parents migrate and work in agriculture in Delaware. MEP is a federally funded program that supplements educational support services for migrant students.

Migrant students are the school-aged children of seasonal workers traveling to Delaware each year for agricultural work. These children face unique educational barriers as a result of multiple family moves.

Many migrant families stay in Delaware through late fall before returning to their home states. During this time their children attend Delaware schools. Migrant families who choose to live in Delaware permanently continue to receive education-related support services.

The goal of MEP Summer School Project is to provide educational experiences as well as social emotional support to assist the migrant students in achieving academic success. Often these students struggle to maintain their grades, grade levels and graduation.

The MEP Summer School Project is held in two locations: the Greater Milford Boys & Girls Club and the Delaware and the Western Sussex Boys & Girls Club.

The MEP Summer School Project provides full-day services five days a week. Free breakfast, lunch and snacks as well as transportation services are provided daily for all the students.

MEP Summer School students have daily instruction in math and reading, computer lab, swimming as well as other educational and fun extra-curricular activities. Instructors use the I-Ready Curriculum and Assessment. Students are given both a pre-assessment (to gauge where they are educationally) and a post-assessment to measure their growth. Families are encouraged to be a part of their children’s learning experience and are invited to participate in family events.

This year, DDOE is very excited about the partnership we have formed with Salisbury State University and their College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP). Migrant students will spend their last week of summer school attending a summer enrichment program called STEAM, which will provide them with experiences in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics. This also allows them to interact with other migrant students from the State of Maryland.


For information on more great things happening in schools across Delaware, sign up to receive Take Note: Education in the First State at Take Note Newsletter – Delaware Department of Education. Take Note is published the final Wednesday of each month.

Why Mental Health is Key to a Child’s Overall Health and Wellbeing

Editor’s note: The following guest column was written by Delaware Education Secretary Mark Holodick and Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families (DSCYF) Secretary Josette Manning.


As parents or guardians, we tend to react quickly when our children’s physical health is in question. If children show physical symptoms, get injured, or express they don’t feel right, we immediately ask questions and seek medical guidance and care. Parents and guardians are also pros at prevention — making sure children get vaccines and wellness exams and keeping an eye out for anything unusual that may indicate they are sick or hurt. That same level of attention and action for prevention and treatment is critical to supporting children’s mental health.

Many children will experience a mental health and/or substance use problem before age 18. In a survey of 80,000 youth around the world, 1 in 4 reported depressive symptoms and 1 in 5 experienced anxiety symptoms. Those rates are double what they were before the pandemic and we also know that more children have experienced trauma in response to COVID.  The good news is that there are things that caregivers can do to help promote children’s mental wellbeing.    Children thrive in the presence of thriving adults who support them in co-regulation and processing their emotions.  When a child has an emotionally healthy, caring adult in their life, it can help buffer against stress and help them to navigate experiences with resilience.  Anyone can be that adult for a child and make a real difference in their life.   How?  One of the easiest ways is for caregivers to talk with the children in their care—naturally, regularly, and intentionally as a part of daily life. Ask how they are feeling in general and about specific situations, like an upcoming social gathering or recent world event. These talks can take place in the car, standing in line, or at the dinner table.  Be an active listener and show interest in all aspects of their life and the things that matter to them.  And don’t hesitate to talk with them if you are concerned about their mental health and ask whether they are thinking about or planning suicide.  If you are concerned about a child in crisis, you should call the 24/7 Child Crisis Line, also known as Mobile Resource Stabilization Service, at 1-800-969-HELP (4357).

In addition to a caring adult, research shows that prevention and treatment programs do work and there are resources available to help children and their families through the Delaware Children’s Department Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health Services (DPBHS) and the Department of Education (DOE) and local schools.

The Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health Services (DPBHS) provides free summer prevention programs for children and teens that promote resilience, develop positive relationships with peers and adults and build life skills.  Families and community members can contact the division’s Prevention Helpline to learn about these services by calling (302) 633-2680, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., or by email at PBHS_Prevention_Inquiries@delaware.gov .  You can click here to see the current catalogue of programs: https://kidsfiles.delaware.gov/pdfs/pbh-summer-prevention-programs-2022.pdf. You can also visit DPBHS’ website to learn more about covered treatment services https://kids.delaware.gov/prevention-and-behavioral-health-services/information-for-families/.

Delaware schools support children through wellness promotion, monitoring for early warning signs,  and screening for risks. Students may access group and individualized supports for building social and emotional skills.  The state’s Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Wellbeing Plan provides infrastructure for this response system, integrating the innovations from Project DelAWARE – designed to reduce the stigma associated with mental health access – and Project THRIVE – which contracts directly with mental health provider organizations to offer trauma-specific interventions for ALL uninsured and under-insured  students, regardless of whether they attend public or private schools demonstration project funded by the US Department of Education. Both of these programs have increased mental health equity for children and youth across our state.  Students or parents and caregivers on their behalf can learn more by calling 211 or texting their zip code to 898-211.

First State Students Earn 10 Top 10 Finishes at 2022 National Stem Conference

The delegation representing 103 of Delaware’s finest student leaders in STEM attended the National TSA Conference that was hosted in Dallas, Texas from June 26 – 30, 2022. Students participated in events such as computer-aided design; dragster design; engineering, inventions & innovations; leadership strategies; manufacturing prototype; on-demand video; promotional graphics; structural engineering; system control technology; video game design; website design, and more.

Conference Highlights

  • Samhitha Vallury of MOT Charter School (charter) elected to serve as the national secretary for Technology Student Association inc.
  • Samra Iqbal of Caesar Rodney High School (Caesar Rodney School District) elected to serve as the national reporter for Technology Student Association inc.
  • Chris Meanor of Newark Charter School (charter) recognized as High School Advisor of the Year.
  • Gail Morris of Gauger-Cobbs Middle School (Christina School District) recognized as Middle School Advisor of the Year.

Top Ten Finalists

1st Place Essays on Technology Alexandra McWatters Newark Charter School (charter)
3rd Place CAD Engineering Leana Griffin Newark Charter School (charter)
4th Place Forensic Technology Sudipa Chowdhury Newark Charter School (charter)
5th Place Cybersecurity Tyler Selden H.B. duPont Middle School (Red Clay Consolidated School District)
7th Place Biotechnology Niranjana Kumar Cab Calloway School of The Arts (Red Clay Consolidated School District)
8th Place Prepared Speech Sudipa Chowdhury Newark Charter School (charter)
9th Place Scientific Visualization Ava Skye Barton Cab Calloway School of The Arts (Red Clay Consolidated School District)
9th Place STEM Animation Borislav Hristov Cab Calloway School of The Arts (Red Clay Consolidated School District)
10th Place Foundations of Information Technology Amogh Dattatri H.B. duPont Middle School (Red Clay Consolidated School District)
10th Place On Demand Video Ava Skye Barton Cab Calloway School of The Arts (Red Clay Consolidated School District)


The Delaware Technology Student Association (TSA) is a Career and Technical Student Organization (CTSO) dedicated to students interested in the future of invention, innovation, engineering, and technology. Through TSA, members gain the opportunity to participate in STEM focused competitive events, take part in community service work, and become leaders for the organization at the school, state and national level. TSA incorporates curricular and co-curricular experiences to emphasize the importance of knowledge, leadership, skill development, and teamwork.

To learn more about DETSA, please visit: www.detsa.org or contact Mike Fitzgerald by phone at (302) 735-4015 or by email at mike.fitzgerald@doe.k12.de.us.

Find more photos here.


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

Summer of Opportunity

By Delaware Education Secretary Mark A. Holodick, Ed.D.


Education has seen many challenges over the past two years.  Students and families have had to deal with interrupted learning due to the pandemic as well as limited access to summer programming.  According to independent studies and student achievement data, this has resulted in notable learning deficits among many of our youth.  Some people call those deficits learning loss.  Some call it unfinished learning.  Regardless, the effects are evident, and we, as a state, are working diligently to do something about it.  The Department of Education has been working in tandem with individual school districts and charter schools to ensure that summer learning plans are in place throughout the state.


Recognizing that all students, especially disadvantaged students, have been adversely affected by the pandemic, these plans are in place to provide opportunities for robust learning to continue to occur at scale throughout the summer.   We at the department have coined this summer, the Summer of Opportunity.  We want students to continue to stay involved with one another and supported by skilled individuals, so that they continue to grow and thrive while waiting for the 2022-2023 academic year to begin.  This means, regardless of a child’s zip code, all students will have the opportunity to participate in a summer program that is interesting, exciting, and helps them grow academically, socially, and emotionally.  This year’s summer programs, as always, will focus on literacy and mathematics but there will also be various opportunities for students to experience activities that they may not have had access to previously.  Those activities may include drama, the playing of an instrument, art classes, dance, and more.  They may also include the use of local resources such as our state and national parks where there are opportunities for hiking, biking, fishing, and swimming.  As a state, we hope to effectively address students’ academic and social and emotional learning in an authentic manner, allowing for as much flexibility as possible regarding pace, selection of material, content, topics, and student voice and decision-making around what interests and inspires them.   And we have all come to realize that kids being engaged and involved is not only good for personal growth but also mental health and well-being.


Measuring student progress is challenging, especially during the summer months when children are accessing different programs and activities.  For some students and families, a half day program works better than a full day program and vice versa.  Some students will attend summer programs that exposes them to a lot of different content, topics, materials, and experiences while other may choose to focus on a particular topic, subject, or skill.  Providing children and families with many options is a good thing.  However, the greater the differential in programing the more challenging it is to measure growth.  Thus, the Department of Education is working with partners to measure growth in specific summer programs using both qualitative and quantitative data.  In doing so, we can determine what programs had not only the high participation rates but also produced the strongest results.


While planning for The Summer of Opportunity, we heard from our districts and charter schools as well as our community-based organizations (CBOs) and faith-based organizations that their greatest hurdle is staffing.  Finding committed and well-trained staff to work with young people is a real challenge right now.  We brought this challenge to the Governor’s Family Services Cabinet Council and brainstormed ways in which this could be addressed.  The answer is the creation of the Governor’s Summer Fellowship program.  High school students, especially those who are currently enrolled in the state’s Teacher Academy Pathway, are being identified and trained to support these summer programs in paid positions.  The Workforce Support Team at the Department of Education, the Governor’s Office, the United Way, other community partners, and our schools and districts have worked collaboratively to launch this initiative in short time.  In fact, we have already had more than 100 high school students in our three counties apply to take part.  All selected students will go through a full week of training in preparation for placement into summer programs in their communities.


While we all want for the upcoming summer to be back to normal and resemble the summers of the past, we must also recognize the opportunity that sits before us: an opportunity for our state to provide as many meaningful and exciting opportunities for growth as possible for our young learners, especially those who have historically been left out in the past.  A focused effort steeped in a lens of equity and access is exactly what’s needed as we move from pandemic to endemic and prepare for what will be a strong and more productive 2022-23 school year.


Find a searchable database of school and community-based partner summer offerings at de.gov/summerlearning.


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