Written on: October 26th, 2012 in Education
Guest Blog by Education Secretary Mark Murphy
Great teaching is a key factor to great student learning. There’s a lot to debate in education today, but that’s a fact to which researchers, policymakers, educators, parents and students can agree.
We have many amazing educators working in our public schools across the state. You probably know those who deserve recognition for their passion for teaching and dedication to students’ success.
Every fall it is our great honor at the Delaware Department of Education to highlight some of these exemplary educators, including one nominated from each of the state’s 19 school districts. On Tuesday, we also named one of them as the 2013 Delaware Teacher of the Year: Sussex Tech’s John Sell.
Sell, an English teacher, is in his 22nd year in the classroom. I especially like how his colleague, English content specialist D.J. Forcucci, described his gift for teaching:
“It isn’t about his content knowledge, although he could quote any poem written in the last two centuries, and it isn’t about his pedagogy, although he memorized the Common Core standards in a day,” Forcucci said. “It is about his innate charisma. It is about his ability to connect with students so naturally and on so many levels that they seek him out on the days they don’t have him just to say hi.
“It is about his ability to make students run to his class and audibly moan in disappointment outside his door on the rare occasion that there is a substitute in the room. And it is about his ability to make his students and his peers better through their experiences with him,” Forcucci said.
Sell, 44, also is known at his Georgetown school for his use of technology to connect with students and parents. He was the first Sussex Tech teacher to use online instructional activities and assessments in his daily instruction. Because part of his teaching philosophy is that curricula need to be easily accessible to students, he uploaded all of his course materials for student access in and out of school.
And when he is eating dinner with his wife, Michelle, an English teacher in the Caesar Rodney School District, and two young sons and his smart phone buzzes to alert him of an email from a student needing help or clarification, he will answer soon. He may be out of school at the time, but he believes teachers needs to be easily accessible to students, too.
Sell, who earned a Bachelor of Science in English education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Arts in curriculum and instruction from Delaware State University, is completing a doctorate in educational leadership from Northcentral University. As the 49th Delaware Teacher of the Year, he now will be the state’s nominee for the National Teacher of the Year competition.
Sell wasn’t the only one honored Tuesday night, though. Delaware teachers, representing each of the state’s 19 school districts, were nominated by their districts during the 2012 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.
I enjoyed honoring all of them on Tuesday, and I am enjoying learning from them as well during my monthly meetings with current and past teachers of the year. As we dig into topics — such as at our most recent meeting, teacher development — I’ve appreciated hearing their insights on what in the system is working well, what needs improvement and how we could make those changes. By participating in these meetings, even after their year of distinction is complete, their insights will continue to inform our efforts to support and strengthen our teaching profession as we strive toward continued improvements in student achievement.
It is my honor to introduce to you to the 2013 district teachers of the year.
Written on: October 16th, 2012 in Guest Posts
Guest Post by Anas Ben Addi of Delaware State Housing Authority
As you may know, at the Delaware State Housing Authority (DSHA) our mission is to make certain Delawareans have a place they can call home. We are constantly working with our partners to ensure we make this goal a reality for all First State citizens. We have been hard at work over the last year to create innovative programs for renters, landlords, homeowners and prospective homebuyers.
As such, we recently launched a free housing locator called DelawareHousingSearch.org, a web-based service that allows landlords to advertise their rental properties free of charge for which renters can also search free of charge. The website has been a great way to connect landlords with Delawareans in order to find the home that’s right for them. It was important to us to have a database of rental units available for individuals who may have unique needs. Through DelawareHousingSearch.org individuals can find housing from private market units to assisted housing units and narrow their search by monthly rent price, zip code, the date the unit will be available among other search options.
DelawareHousingSearch.org is just another important tool we have in our arsenal to drive our mission. We realize that housing is the cornerstone of communities and economic development for Delaware. Not only does DSHA offer individuals with affordable rental opportunities, but we also offer programs to help Delawareans overcome any hurdles on their way to homeownership.
On Oct. 11, 2012 we partnered with Governor Jack Markell for the Governor’s Conference on Housing. We are so thankful the great turnout and to all those who joined us to discuss our programs and the future of housing in Delaware. More than 400 housing professionals and residents from throughout Delaware and surrounding states joined us to take an in-depth look at a gamut of housing topics. I would like send a special thank you to Governor Markell, Senator Tom Carper, Congressman John Carney, Dr. David Crowe, and of course our wonderful keynote speaker, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development Shaun Donovan, for being a part of this day and our discussions.
With an upcoming election, we touched on what any of the outcomes could mean for homeownership programs and the housing market including affordable housing programs. There were several hot topics like foreclosure, of which we’ve been tirelessly working to stem the increase through the Delaware Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program.
While we continue to move forward and make progress, there is still much work to do to ensure Delawareans have the opportunity to quality, affordable housing. DSHA is committed to its mission for the rest of 2012 and to the next year and beyond.
Written on: October 8th, 2012 in Effective & Efficient Government
Strengthening our schools, creating more jobs and governing responsibly are our key areas of focus.
If our kids are going to learn to the best of their abilities, they need, first and foremost to be safe. That’s why I recently signed into law the Omnibus School Safety Act, which will lead to the development of school-specific safety plans that are comprehensive, coordinated and compliant with federal emergency response systems. This act is part of a multi-year effort to make our schools and the students attending our schools safer, so our teachers and staff can focus on what they do best: educating our children.
About a year ago, Marie Shane and Ginny Jewel (pictured left) lost their jobs when their employer, a Delaware bookstore, closed. They were down but not out. By combining their years of experience with a lot of hard work, financial assistance from the Delaware State Small Business Credit Initiative and the help of SCORE Delaware, Acorn Books recently opened for business in Dover. Ginny and Marie started a new chapter in their lives.
Another recent opening, also focused on books, was the unveiling of the new Dover Public Library. While many of us view Delaware libraries as real hubs for information-sharing, they are also helping people find jobs. The Job Center at Delaware Libraries helps Delawareans learn how to change careers or start a business.
Children average 6.5 hours per day with electronic media and just minutes a day engaged in unstructured outdoor activities. A new report issued by Delaware’s Children in Nature/No Child Left Inside Task Force provides recommendations on how we can better engage our children to be as excited about getting outside as they are about getting the latest video game. By implementing these recommendations with support from our Departments of Natural Resources and Education, Delaware will become a leader in environmental education and advocacy.
Our State Housing Authority recently unveiled DelawareHousingSeach.org, a new housing locator website providing free information about rental housing across the first state. Not only does the site allow real -time searches for available housing, but it also features a bilingual call center helping Delawareans to get the answers they need and find a place to call home.
Written on: October 3rd, 2012 in Job Creation
Entrepreneurs built our state, and our nation. People of courage and convictions, who were willing to start something new because they knew they could build something better. For centuries, our economy has been a global power because of the innovation, ingenuity and resilience of the entrepreneurs who were born here, or came here to start their business. As we continue our work to put the Great Recession firmly behind us, we need inspired entrepreneurs now more than ever.
Last weekend, national leaders in digital media and commerce converged at Delaware Tech for PodCamp East, a conference that made clear how dramatically technology has lowered the costs of launching a business and reaching a new audience. Delivering customers incredible service now matters much more than the size of your marketing budget, because customer feedback is both immediately available and far more compelling than traditional commercials.
At the EMPACT Summit a few days before, entrepreneurs learned how to cut their costs even further, by leveraging emergent ideas like crowdfunding – which some Delaware companies are now doing – and co-working, which places like Delaware’s COINLoft now offer. Entrepreneurs shared their secrets to success, from Kay Koplovitz who built multi-billion dollar businesses like USA Network and the Syfy Channel to Catherine Cook, who launched a company called MyYearbook with her brother when she was 15 and then sold it for $100M six years later, where it’s now part of MeetMe.com.
Awesome stories, about how a compelling idea, convincingly executed can change your life forever.
Just this week, I attended another inspiring event – a partnership of the local Small Business Association, our local AARP and Delaware community and business leaders. You see, with stories as inspiring at Catherine’s, it’s easy to see why so much of the focus around entrepreneurism is on companies with lab coats or laptops – businesses that focus on writing computer code or researching genetic code. And entrepreneurism can get pigeonholed in the popular imagination as something you do early in life – when you have decades ahead of you to try and make it work. But when partnerships like the SBA and AARP make clear is that most businesses – most entrepreneurs – are in the business of providing goods and services, leveraging their personal experience to improve upon the customer experience currently available in the marketplace.
The other truth is that more and more great small businesses are being launched – not by people who think they have forever ahead of them, but by people with decades of great work and experience behind them to build on from the first minute of a company’s launch. People who’ve decided that it’s time in life to be their own boss and are choosing to make their next career a start-up success. We need to be there to help at any stage of an entrepreneurs life – so they can put people to work. What groups like Podcamp, EMPACT and the SBA are making clear is that there are places to turn and friends to help entrepreneurs of any age as they work to build their business and we work together to keep Delaware, and our nation, moving forward.