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November 2, 2009
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State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick

A few words from State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick


Maryland has been very fortunate to have had so many wonderful public servants who have made it the great state that it is. One such individual was Blair G. Ewing, who passed away earlier this year.

The State Board last week recognized Blair for his tireless support of education and his advocacy for special education students. His record of service was among our State’s most impressive, serving on the Montgomery County Board of Education, Montgomery County Council, and the Maryland State Board of Education. He was the State Board’s Vice President at the time of his death.

Blair worked for children each and every day. He was never satisfied with the status quo, always imploring us to do better. Our schools—and our communities—are better for his service.

State Board President James DeGraffenreidt (left), Board member Kate Walsh, and State Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick (second from right) joined Montgomery County special education advocates Janis Sartucci, Caroline Grandy, and Tom Jones in honoring Blair Ewing.

State Board President James DeGraffenreidt (left), Board member Kate Walsh, and State Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick (second from right) joined Montgomery County special education advocates Janis Sartucci, Caroline Grandy, and Tom Jones in honoring Blair Ewing.


* * *

Scores of special education advocates and friends of education gathered in Annapolis last month for a reception sponsored by the State Interagency Coordinating Council (SICC) to spotlight the wonderful Infants and Toddlers Program. The State added important additional funding for the program last year, despite the difficult economic situation we faced.

Governor O’Malley and I supported the critical additional investment to the Infants and Toddlers Program, and for good reason. The program provides early services to the very young, helping to ensure a bright future. Early intervention matters to the families, but also to Maryland in general.

* * *

I was surprised and humbled last month to be honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the NAACP Maryland State Conference’s Education Committee.

The NAACP has worked for decades to improve education for all students, and we share many of the same goals. It is a pleasure to work with such a dedicated group of educators and community leaders as we strive every day to make things better.


Calendar

November 10 – Training for Educators who Work with Military Families, Crowne Plaza, Timonium

November 13-14 – Maryland PTA, Holiday Inn and Conference Center, Frederick

November 16-20 – American Education Week

November is International Education Month

November is American Indian Heritage Month

December 10-11 – State Board Meeting, Baltimore



Video   VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS
Parent Involvement

(October 5, 2009)
Students, parents, and educators celebrate Parent Involvement month in October, and look ahead to National Parent Involvement Matters Day on November 19th. State Schools Superintendent Nancy Grasmick visits Talbott Springs Elementary in Howard County.


In the News

Grasmick: Arts School ‘Most Unique’
Hagerstown Herald-Mail

2009 Maryland Kids Helping Kids Campaign Washington Examiner

To Officials who Funded a Program for Disabled Children Despite Tight Budget: Advocates Say ‘Thank-You’
Baltimore Brew



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STATE PARENT PROGRAMS GAIN NATIONAL ATTENTION

The Maryland State Department of Education’s parent involvement programs have been praised within the State, and now they are gaining national attention.

Mishaela Duran, director of governmental affairs with the National PTA, praised Maryland’s family involvement programs at last week’s State Board meeting.

Mishaela Duran, director of governmental affairs with the National PTA, praised Maryland’s family involvement programs at last week’s State Board meeting.

MSDE placed a renewed focus on parent involvement in 2003, launching the Maryland Parent Advisory Council.  Since then, a variety of initiatives have been launched including the Superintendent’s Family Involvement Council and the Comcast Parent Involvement Matters Awards.  Increasing parent and family involvement in education has helped the State rise to the top of the national rankings.

“Maryland is a guiding light for systemic family engagement,” said Mishaela Duran, director of government affairs with the National PTA.  “There is now a national movement in family engagement.  We are just so pleased we can highlight Maryland.”

Maryland State Board members last week were given a status report on Maryland’s parent involvement initiatives.  Participants agreed: the State’s programs have made a difference in both student performance and behavior.

Maria Lamb, Chief of MSDE’s Program Improvement and Family Support Branch, said that improving education is “truly a shared responsibility.”  Maryland now has a parent involvement coordinator in all 24 systems, with each district taking a customized approach to building connections between school and community. 

The results have been gratifying.  As parent engagement rises, so do test scores and student attendance.  Duran said schools with strong parent engagement have more success in meeting their federal progress targets.

Board member Madhu Sidhu acknowledged the importance of parent programs, but added that even more parents need to be involved.   For example, she said, while parent-teacher conferences are often crowded at the elementary grade levels, interest wanes by the time students reach high school.

Duran had one bit of advice to the Maryland State Board: “Keep it up.”


MSDE PROGRAM NAMED “INNOVATOR OF THE YEAR”

The Maryland State Department of Education’s Teachers of Promise Mentoring Programs and Institute (TOP) received one of the Daily Record’s 2009 Innovator of the Year awards at a reception last month at the American Visionary Art Museum. The Innovator of the Year award recognizes Marylanders who have the courage to make a change and the stamina to await the results.

MSDE created TOP to provide an important base of support for the “newest of teachers.” Using the Maryland Teacher of the Year Program as a springboard, award-winning Teachers of the Year from 2005-2009 were paired with outstanding college seniors in education who are now in their first year of teaching in Maryland. Veteran and protégé teachers interact with outstanding Teachers of the Year assisting as mentors. The mentoring begins in the students’ senior year and continues through summer and fall placement in Maryland schools, creating a transitional mentoring program for very beginning teachers.

“This program is truly unique as Maryland is the only state that created a program utilizing the talents and brain power of Teachers of the Year in helping transition college seniors into their roles as first year teachers,” said Dr. Nancy Grasmick, State Superintendent of Schools.

Estimates are that one-third of Maryland’s teachers, as well as teachers throughout the U.S., leave the profession sometime during the first three years of teaching; with 50 percent leaving after five years. The teacher retention crisis crosses all communities and all sectors of education. Research strongly suggests that teacher buddies or mentors assigned to work with new teachers can be crucial in encouraging them to remain in the field.

MSDE fully implemented Teachers of Promise in 2008-2009 with the participation of 165 outstanding students from 21 Maryland colleges and universities. Participating students came from every corner of Maryland.



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