Since 2016, Talbot County Public Schools has been celebrating and thanking Community Partners at an annual breakfast prepared by the district’s Culinary Arts Program. A District Community Partner of the Year is recognized, as well as a partner of the year for each school and one for the Internship Program. This year, Dr. Griffith and school Administrators visited each recipient personally to deliver their awards and breakfast baskets prepared by the culinary students and shared testimonials about how the partnerships made a difference in the lives of students and staff.
“We realize that we can not do what we do without the support of our community,” said Dr. Kelly Griffith, Superintendent. “Our community partners give so much to our students and staff, so every year we take time out to give back and thank them for all that they do.”
Individuals and organizations interested in becoming TCPS Community Partners may contact Debbie Gardner, Coordinator of Public Relations and Special Programs at (410)924-4501 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Talbot County Public Schools District Partners of the Year
Easton Utilities and TCPS Education Foundation
TCPS Education Foundation and Easton Utilities – District Partners of the Year (left to right) Berenice Orellana, Kelly Griffith, Jeremy Hillyard, Mary Wheeler, Michael Garman, Barry Sabo, Claire Tyndall, David Short, Anderson Watson, Michael Fisher, Laura Heikes.
The Talbot County Public Schools District Partners of the Year are Easton Utilities and the TCPS Education Foundation, recognizing their partnership in the Digital Divide Campaign.
When schools were closed in March of 2020 due to COVID-19, school districts were directed to provide “Continuity of Learning” for students using digital devices and communications. TCPS already provided devices for every student in grades K-12. So while virtual learning was not new to TCPS, the need to quickly transition ALL students and staff exclusively to this model presented significant challenges, and put some students at greater risk of being unable to succeed.
In June of 2020, the Talbot County Public Schools Education Foundation learned of the “Digital Divide.” This term describes the educational inequity that could result for students who could not access on-line teaching platforms or engage with their teachers virtually.
Easton Utilities, a long-time TCPS Community Partner, stepped up in generous support by developing a special subsidized internet program for families in their service territory. The Easton Utilities/Easton Velocity Team worked rapidly to establish internal procedures for responding to families who qualified for the program, and mobilized customer service representatives and technicians to install the service. They not only subsidized the cost of the program, but also donated the equipment needed for the households to be connected.
Since the estimated cost for the Easton Utilities/Easton Velocity program would be approximately $200 per family per year, the Education Foundation set an initial fundraising goal of $60,000 to support connectivity for 300 families. They literally hit the ground running, reaching out to friends, family and the business community. By the end of the calendar year, more than $100,000 had been raised to meet this critical need.
This successful project truly represents what Community Partnership is all about,” Dr. Griffith said, “and we are so grateful to both organizations for their hard work and creativity on behalf of our students and staff!”
Chapel District Elementary
Higginbottom Orthodontics/Chapel District (left to right): Amy Palmer, Kari Clow, Kyle Higginbottom, Mark Higginbottom, Erik Higginbottom, Kelly Griffith.
Chapel District Elementary recognized Higginbottom Orthodontics as their Community Partner of the Year. “Doctors Kyle, Erik, and Mark Higginbottom go above and beyond to support the students, staff, and families of Chapel District Elementary School in various ways,” said Dr. Kari Clow, Principal. Higginbottom Orthodontics adopts multiple classrooms for their PTO’s “Adopt a Classroom” program annually, which allows teachers to purchase necessary instructional supplies for their classrooms and students.
In addition, they partner with CDES for their annual “Chapel Kids Care” canned food drive in November, where doctors Mark, Kyle, and Erik personally deliver turkeys to the school to be used for holiday dinners and delivered to families in need. Higginbottom Orthodontics has also provided donations for new teacher baskets and 5th grade end of year celebrations in the past and has remained a loyal community partner throughout the years.
Academy Art Museum
Academy Art Museum/Easton Elementary (left to right): Cathy McCoy, Lisa Devaric, Kelly Griffith, Nanny Trippe, Constance Del Nero, Jill Meyerhoff, Mehves Lelic.
Easton Elementary School selected the Academy Art Museum and Constance Del Nero. Ms. Del Nero has been a friend to Easton Elementary for many years, always dedicated to educating the whole child. She has partnered with Kindergarten classes to create masterful pieces of art. “When the pandemic hit, Ms. Del Nero and the Academy Art Museum didn’t miss a beat,” said Dr. Lisa Devaric, Principal. “While Talbot County Public Schools provided the basics, the Academy Art Museum ensured we educated the whole child by providing a box of art supplies with directions for creating a piece of art. Ms. Del Nero and her colleague showed up each Friday faithfully.”
As Easton Elementary moved into their brand new school building, Ms. Del Nero worked in conjunction with PTO President Lauren Harton to create an art project to symbolize two schools coming together as one and a community coming back together after a pandemic. Each student received a puzzle piece to decorate. Those pieces were assembled to create 18 individual puzzles that will be hung around the school to symbolize the unity of the school family. This project was funded by the Academy Art Museum and will beautify Easton Elementary School for many years to come.
ACE Mentor Program
Ace Mentor/Easton High (left to right): Rachel Whiting, Paul Moffett, Sherry Bowen, Kelly Griffith.
Easton High School chose the ACE Mentor Program of Maryland’s Eastern Shore. This program helps students learn about career opportunities in architecture, construction management, and engineering, while also providing mentoring and scholarships for those interested in pursuing these careers. Students are introduced to building industry’s career potential by working as part of a collaborative team under the mentorship of an industry professional to plan and design a mock project on a real site. “Even in the midst of a pandemic, Paul Moffitt, worked to organize this invaluable experience for students,” said Sherry Bowen, Principal. “Mr. Moffitt was creative in having this club stay active virtually with students and engineering volunteers from the community.”
Talbot Historical Society
Talbot Historical Society/Easton Middle (left to right): Larry Denton, Erin Pogue, Peggy Morey, Al Silverstein, Jodi Colman, Kelly Griffith.
Easton Middle School recognized the Talbot Historical Society as their Community Partner of the Year. The Historical Society played an integral role in sharing local black history with the students, staff, and families of Easton Middle School. They shared artifacts that were curated by community members in order to highlight the brilliance and contributions of the residents of Talbot County.
“This collaboration created a bridge between our county’s history and the Easton Middle School community,” explained Dr. Jodi Colman, Principal. In addition, the Talbot Historical Society is working closely with Easton Middle School staff members to provide a variety of rich activities for the summer learning programming to share Talbot County’s history and to create meaningful learning experiences for students.
St. Michaels Elementary and Middle High
Rotary Club of St. Michaels
Rotary Club of St. Michaels/St. Michaels Campus (left to right): Indra Bullock, Theresa Vener, Kelly Griffith, Martha Benson, Tom Roesel.
St. Michaels Elementary and St. Michaels Middle High jointly recognized the Rotary Club of St. Michaels. “Throughout this school year when little has been consistent, St. Michaels Rotary has continued and increased their support of our schools as the needs of our families have also increased,” explained Mrs. Theresa Vener, Principal of St. Michaels Middle High. “They offered a Kohl’s shopping trip during the winter holidays to families in need.”
This year in addition, the Rotary formed a committee to further support families during the COVID-19 pandemic. This committee met with school administration and school counselors to develop a plan to help with specific needs. Among other supports, the Rotary Club of St. Michaels spearheaded a community-wide household supply drive for the schools. From this initiative, the schools were given seven flatbed cartloads of household cleaning supplies, toiletries, and paper products. Both SMMHS and SMES were able to provide dozens of families with large boxes of toiletries, cleaning supplies, and paper products. “We truly appreciate our long standing partnership with the Rotary Club of St. Michaels and look forward to continuing our work together for the St. Michaels community,” added Dr. Indra Bullock, Elementary School Principal.
Tilghman Area Youth Association (TAYA)
Tilghman Area Youth Association/Tilghman Elementary left to right: Krista Paquin, Rachael Freeman, Leah Schultz, Ginny Cornwell, Brandy Frampton, Kelly Murdoch, Kelly Griffith.
Tilghman Elementary School recognized Tilghman Area Youth Association (TAYA) as their TCPS Community Partner of the Year. “TAYA consistently demonstrates their commitment to our students, staff, families, and the community of Tilghman through their tireless efforts,” explained Ms. Kelly Murdoch, Principal. Knowing the challenges the school was experiencing due to COVID, TAYA stepped in and bought school supplies for each TES student at the beginning of the year. They purchased requested materials for teachers to utilize when staff and students returned to the building. They organized take home meals, provided staff to support the CarePacks program, and created and dispersed home supply kits. They also bought and distributed books for students on a monthly basis, and provided diapers and wipes to families in need. In addition to all of that, they are continuing their tradition of purchasing yearbooks so that each student and staff member receives one at no cost.
White Marsh Elementary
St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Trappe
St. Paul’s Church,Trappe/White Marsh (left to right): Kelly Griffith, Kim Seidel, Charlotte Meyer, Jackie Schwencer, Nathaniel Pierce.
White Marsh Elementary School nominated St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Trappe as their Community Partner of the Year for 2020-21. This school year, under the directorship of Charlotte Meyer, St. Paul’s donated multiple times to White Marsh Elementary, in order to help students and families in need.
St. Paul’s generosity includes donations made to their “Back to School” event (filled pencil boxes and school supplies for students), as well as Thanksgiving Food Baskets and Christmas/Holiday Gift Bags for students and families in need. Additionally, they have donated plants, flowers, bags of personal hygiene supplies and even venison, to help feed and support families in the Trappe area. “We feel extremely fortunate to have the congregation of St. Paul’s and Ms. Meyer as a Community Partner at White Marsh Elementary,” said Ms. Kim Seidel, Principal. “Our staff, students and families are all very grateful for their kindness and generosity!”
Internship Partner of the Year
Tidewater Physical Therapy
Tidewater Physical Therapy/Internship (left to right): Jodie Colombo, Brian Mielke, Kelly Griffith.
Tidewater Physical Therapy has been an invaluable partner for the Talbot County Public Schools Internship Program for well over five years. According to Jodie Colombo, TCPS School-to-Work Facilitator, “Brian Mielke and his team go above and beyond to ensure each student’s internship provides the knowledge and skills necessary for a successful start to a career.” Students who have completed their internship have even moved into paid positions and been accepted into competitive physical therapy programs. Over the years, the positive environment and hands-on experience have generated increased interest in the field, with many of our high school students requesting an internship with the team at Tidewater Physical Therapy.