Maryland Together: COVID-19 Response & Continuity of Learning Success - Issue 2

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Issue 2   |   May 20, 2020

Honoring the Class of 2020

Message from Karen B. Salmon, Ph.D., State Superintendent of Schools

It was an honor to partner with the Council of Chief State School Officers and the XQ Institute in the nationally televised Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020 this past weekend and honor Maryland’s graduates.  The event featured a digital platform in which each State could provide a video message and three student/ teacher features – you’ll find excerpts below.  I appreciated the opportunity to deliver a message directly to the Class of 2020, which has demonstrated strength, resilience, leadership and sacrifice.  Their commencement –beginning - comes at a pivotal time in history.  All generations will be forever bonded by the circumstance of our times, this pandemic crisis, and it will shape all of our lives.  The Class of 2020 will steer the post-pandemic world we share.  This class is the one we have been waiting for; the Class of 2020 is Maryland Strong!

Visit Maryland's Graduate Together Page

Watch Dr. Salmon's Message to Graduating Seniors

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Honoring Maryland’s Class of 2020 in National Graduate Together Program

Demetrius Nelson, a high school senior in the City of Baltimore, graduates this year from Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School (Mervo). His aspirational five-year plan is to attend college and become an architect. He says wants to continue his art by showing power and privilege through portraits of African American people whom he knows and respects. The artwork entitled, “The Competition” is a self-portrait of Demetrius diving into an Olympic sized pool – a pool that doesn’t exist in his neighborhood. Although Demetrius thrives with competition, this pool also symbolizes the hope and uncertainty of tomorrow and his own determination to succeed, empowered by integrity and hard work.

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Shreya Santhanagopalan

Shreya Santhanagopalan, a Mount Hebron High School senior in Howard County says her greatest strength is her motivation. When faced with any disappointment, Shreya surmises, “I genuinely believe that learning from failure is the key to my success.” Locally, Shreya started an organization called WEngineer in which she designed and implemented an engaging STEM curriculum to promote interest in engineering to local middle school students. On a national level, Shreya and a peer designed the award-winning (2018 PLTW Award) Safe Haven App, which crowdsources users to provide temporary relief to people who have lost their homes due to a natural disaster.  She plans to attend Georgia Tech next fall.

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Cecil County’s Teacher of the Year for 2020 and Rising Sun High School Social Studies teacher Josie Perry shares her thoughts about the Class of 2020 in a special message:  “With the sudden shuttering of schools, there has been much talk about the Class of 2020. Our seniors are going to miss out on prom, senior awards, picnics, Tractor Day, and many other student rites of passage including graduation, the ultimate recognition of their 13+ years of hard work and dedication. Many wonder if it is possible for the Class of 2020 to move forward when so much seems unfinished in their lives. I have no doubt that they will still achieve their goals and do it with the same perseverance they have shown throughout their high school career. ” She goes on to describe three students who persevered and earned their graduation diplomas in the face of different challenges that many would find insurmountable.

Read Her Message


Virtual Summit Connects Teachers of Promise with Mentors in COVID-19 Pandemic



Each year the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) and partners pair Teachers of Promise, top graduating education majors nominated by their college or university with award-winning educators and mentors.  Mentors include present and past Teachers of the Year, as well as Milken National Educators. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic emergency, these 170 educators convened virtually in a three-hour event with break-out sessions to share experiences and best practices.

In opening remarks, Karen B. Salmon, Ph.D., said, “It’s a tremendous responsibility but also a tremendous opportunity for prospective teachers new to the profession and veteran teachers to further develop their skill set and styles of instruction. The educators we have here today really exemplify that commitment to innovation and flexibility that we desperately need during this time.”

Research shows that mentoring is a highly positive and effective professional development strategy –and that both mentor and protégé gain from mentor relationships. Teachers of Promise are encouraged to stay connected with their mentors beyond the summit as they being their professional careers.

From Nicole Petrilena, #MDTOP20 and recent MICA MAT grad:

"I’ll be teaching Art in Baltimore City in the fall. It was an honor to hear from all of the fantastic representatives and mentors. I could feel the resilience, kindness and strength through the screen!"

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Moving Dance

The Art of Dance in Baltimore County

Kelly Alt, the dance teacher at Chatsworth School in Baltimore County, is keeping her students moving through virtual learning! Last week, she led a 1990s themed dance fitness party. Alt hosts Google Meets each week with each grade level she teaches (Kindergarten, and Grades 1, 2, 3, and 5). “I enjoy watching them in their different boxes, creating shapes with their bodies, freeze-dancing… We are making it work… My main goal is to find more and more ways to encourage my students – and my fellow faculty members to move more. We are all so sedentary right now.” Movement is really important for physical health, as well as mental health.

Read Kelly Alt's Story

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Focus on Two Way Immersion in Montgomery County

The latest “All In” blog post by Superintendent Jack Smith features a video interview with several two-way immersion teachers from Oakland Terrace Elementary School. Dr. Jack Smith, Superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools, discusses the importance of camaraderie and teamwork on behalf of students with several two-way immersion educators. Interviewed were educators: Rachel Mann, Claudia Moncayo, Paula Liz Lueck and Genny Dorsainvil from Oakland Terrace Elementary School. They shared with Dr. Smith how they are collaborating with each other and with peers across the county to identify ways to best serve their students. They discussed equity and talked about their unique experiences navigating this new remote learning environment. They shared amazing images of their students using art to express themselves in the midst of this crisis.  

View the Blog Post

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Washington County Announces Principal Citizenship Awards  Virtually

Washington County Public Schools (WCPS), together with the Washington County Association of Elementary School Administrators (WCAESA), announced the recipients of the 33rd annual Principal Citizenship Award, which recognizes fifth-grade students for demonstrating positive character and exemplary citizenship throughout the school year.

Check Out the List

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Haiku Competition Inspires Self Expression

When the organizers of the 2020 Team BCPS Haiku Contest selected “hero” as the contest theme, they anticipated receiving poems about superheroes and parents – which they did. What they were not expecting was a global pandemic that would impact every aspect of our lives – and shed new light on what it means to be a hero. Although there were fewer entries than previous years, an impressive 1,446 haiku submissions flowed in from 99 schools and centers. In addition to poems about parents and superheroes, the pandemic inspired students to write about how life has changed and to express appreciation to medical professionals and others on the frontlines of the COVID-19 emergency.

Read More


Elementary School Winner

Ella Navari, Prettyboy Elementary School, Grade 4

strange, unseen terror multiplying rapidly white masks, here to help

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A Memorial Day Porch Concert

This Friday, May 22nd, Worcester County instrumental music students will be performing the 16-measure duet "Ode to Joy" from their front porch/lawn in celebration of Memorial Day!

Follow on social media! #WorcesterPorch


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Learn more about MSDE's COVID-19 resources: