Ninth Annual Conference on Education


November 14, 2016


8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

9th Annual Conference on Education
Moving the Vision Forward

The Annual Conference on Education brings together voices from around the state and beyond for an engaging and interactive day focusing on the future of education in Delaware. Attendees and presenters collaborate to dig deeper into the issues facing Delaware schools, the recommendations found in Student Success 2025, and find ways to work together to make these recommendations a reality.

 AGENDA – subject to change:

Registration, Continental Breakfast and Networking
Sheila Dean Ross, Program Officer, Arts Education and Accessibility, Division of the Arts
Knowledge is Power, an Original Poem
Hannah Sturgis, 2016 Poetry Outloud State Champion & Senior at Polytech High School
*Dan Rich, Director, Community Engagement Initiative and Professor of Public Policy and Administration, University of Delaware
Dennis Assanis, Ph.D., President, University of Delaware
University of Delaware Partnership for Public Education
Elizabeth Farley-Ripple, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Associate Director, School of Education, University of Delaware
Achieving Student Success
*Mark Holodick, Superintendent, Brandywine School District
Introduction of Keynote
*Paul Herdman, President & CEO, Rodel Foundation of Delaware
Redesigning Education to Restore Opportunity
Paul Reville, Francis Keppel Professor of Practice of Educational Policy and Administration, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Exploring Educational Opportunity in Delaware, Panel Discussion
Facilitated by Michelle Taylor, President and CEO of United Way of Delaware
Paul Reville, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Jeffers Brown, Principal, Stubbs Elementary School
Leslie Newman, CEO, Children and Families First
Maria Alonso, Ph.D., Academia Antonia Alonso Board of Directors
Plenary Wrap-up
*Susan Bunting, Superintendent, Indian River School District
Networking Break
Introduction of Idea Exchange
*Mark Holodick, Superintendent, Brandywine School District
Idea Exchange (See more information below)
Conference Wrap-up
*Mark Holodick, Superintendent, Brandywine School District
Featured Students
Elbert Palmer Elementary School Drumline
Catering provided by William Penn High School and St. Georges Technical High School
UDairy Creamery Moo Mobile

*Member of the Vision Coalition Leadership Team

Idea Exchanges

During this year’s conference we will hold “Idea Exchanges:” small group conversations matched to the core areas of Student Success 2025. Education, government, nonprofit, and business leaders will facilitate these informal conversations to bring participants together around a variety of topics, from innovative practices happening in classrooms around Delaware, to helping students achieve success in college and careers. Idea Exchanges will provide participants a chance to share and learn collaboratively from others, receive answers to their questions, find ways to get involved, connect work underway and identify opportunities to make progress.

Early Learning

The early years of a child’s life—from birth to eight—are a brief but critical period for learning and development. Children need holistic supports—including aligned community partners and qualified teachers—to thrive and build the foundation for future success.

These Idea Exchanges will explore topics related to many of the early learning recommendations in Student Success 2025 including:
• Promoting development, including early literacy and social-emotional skills
• Bolstering the early learning workforce
• Supporting families of young children, including through home visiting
• Strengthening children’s transitions to kindergarten

Addressing Social-Emotional Needs
How can we equip home visiting and classroom educators with tools to support social emotional concerns in early childhood education? This Idea Exchange will address the social-emotional needs of young children and how we can support them through early care and education settings and home visiting services. The discussion will include training needed; effective structures and strategies; and family engagement.
Dionne Patterson, Assistant Program Manager and Early Childhood Education Trainer, Parents as Teachers

Building and Supporting the Early Learning Workforce
How can Delaware build a profession for and support the early learning workforce? This Idea Exchange will discuss the future of the profession for early learning teachers and leaders, their training, ongoing professional development, expectations, and compensation. The state’s professional development plan and next steps will be discussed.
Ariel Ford, Education Associate, Office of Early Learning, Department of Education

Engaging with Local Readiness Teams
How can we engage Delawareans in the work of their local Readiness Teams? The Idea Exchange will discuss the impact of the Delaware Readiness Teams. It will discuss strategies to actively engage families, early childhood and elementary school educators, and community members to support young children’s development.
Dawn Alexander, Preschool Expansion Coordinator, Colonial School District

Reading by Third Grade
How can we support all children to read by third grade? This Idea Exchange will address policies, practices, and partnerships to support reading by third grade, one of the most important milestones toward and predictors of school success. Issues will include teacher preparation, including requirements for reading instruction; standards and assessments; and how we can engage the community in the work.
Dr. Teri Quinn Gray, President, Delaware State Board of Education

Strengthening Families Through Supports
How can communities provide concrete support to strengthen families? This Idea Exchange will focus on strengthening families, particularly those with young children, by providing support and establishing protective factors. Community support, making services more accessible, and the work of the Delaware Readiness Teams will be included.
Niagia Williams, Program Coordinator, Prevent Child Abuse Delaware

Transitioning to Kindergarten
How can we better support families and students as they transition from preschool to Kindergarten? This Idea Exchange will focus on what children, schools, and families need and how to support them through this important time in early development. It also will address the communication, partnerships, standards, and accountability across institutions that are involved: children, families, preschool and Kindergarten teachers and administrators.
Caitlin Gleason, Education Associate, Alignment and Professional Development, Office of Early Learning

System Governance, Alignment, & Performance

Advancements in instruction and learning call for system-wide changes that must be reflected across school types and from birth to K-12 to higher education and career.

These Idea Exchanges will explore topics related to many of the system governance, alignment and performance recommendations in Student Success 2025 such as
• Collaborating across schools and sectors
• Engaging, supporting, and partnering with families and communities
• Redesigning systems of accountability and support

Addressing Needs Through Community Partnerships
How can we address the trauma, social, emotional needs of parents and students? Schools play a significant role in meeting the emotional needs of parents and students, particularly in high poverty or violent areas. This Idea Exchange will focus on challenges and innovative strategies to increase family engagement and improving overall student outcomes through strategic community partnerships.
Jeffers Brown, Principal, Stubbs Elementary, Christina School District

Collaborating Across School Boards
How can collaboration between traditional and charter school boards improve student performance? Traditional school districts and charter school districts use a common method of board governance but do not have a common means for regular collaboration. This Idea Exchange will focus on how districts and charters could collaborate and foster opportunities for partnership.
John Marinucci, Executive Director, Delaware School Boards Association

Connecting Research to Schools and Communities
How can we better support connections between research, schools, and communities? This Idea Exchange will focus on strengthening connections between research and practice. Topics will include matching resources to needs; strategies to improve communication and collaboration; and establishing partnerships among the research community, schools and communities.
Elizabeth Farley-Ripple, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Associate Director, School of Education, University of Delaware

Finding the Best Educational Fit
How can we help parents find the best educational fit for their child? Public school choice allows parents to find the school that best meets the educational needs of their child. This Idea Exchange will focus on how to districts and charters could increase access to school options and provide information about those options for students and families.
Kendall Massett, Executive Director, Delaware Charter Schools Network

Overcoming Barriers to Family Engagement
How do we alleviate barriers to family engagement in school and district decision-making? Family engagement has evolved and continues to be critical to our education system. This session will focus on the reality of parent engagement, both the challenges and the strategies to address them.
Tizzy Lockman, Director, Parent Advocacy Council for Education (PACE), Christina Cultural Arts Center

Transitioning to ESSA
How do we transition to ESSA with a redefined system of supports, accountability, and public reporting which clearly connects and supports components within the Student Success 2025 North Star? As we begin the process of adapting our systems to align with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), this Idea Exchange will discuss the impending changes and explore opportunities for improving the state’s system of support and accountability.
Donna Johnson, Executive Director, Delaware State Board of Education

Postsecondary Success

Decades of research confirm that higher levels of education correlate with higher earnings, higher tax revenues, and lower unemployment rates. Yet today’s preparedness measures indicate that many students are not ready for challenges beyond high school.

These Idea Exchanges will explore topics related to many of the postsecondary success recommendations in Student Success 2025 including:
• Expanding access to, awareness of, and preparation for college and career
• Improving career exploration opportunities such as job shadowing and internships
• Supporting students through counseling and planning for college and career

Connecting Education and Business
How can stakeholders work together to develop curriculum that gives students a competitive edge in pursuing a career? This Idea Exchange will focus on ways that K-12 education, higher education, community organizations and business leaders can work together to develop strong curriculum and meaningful experiences that will prepare students for careers and education beyond high school. The discussion will include insights from developing Delaware’s Advanced Manufacturing Pathway.
Paul Morris, Assistant Vice President for Workforce Development, Delaware Technical Community College

Engaging Students Through Counseling Supports
How can we increase in-person and technology-enhanced counseling supports to engage students at an early age? This Idea Exchange will discuss what tools and services families and students need as they complete middle and high school, and pursue career and postsecondary opportunities. The conversation will focus on how to provide personalized supports that fit the needs of each student and family.
Kelly Sherretz, Associate Policy Scientist and Assistant Director of the UD Partnership for Public Education, University of Delaware

Increasing Career Exploration Opportunities
How can we provide more career awareness and exploration opportunities for students? This Idea Exchange will focus on how stakeholders throughout the state can partner with schools to provide students, particularly in under-served communities, with career opportunities such as career coaches and work-based learning.
Dana Beckton, Director, Diversity and Inclusion, Christiana Care Health System

Increasing College Access
How can we increase college access for all students? This Idea Exchange will generate ideas and best practices for increasing college access opportunities for all students, especially those historically underrepresented in higher education. Discussion will focus on working with students at the elementary, middle, and high school levels to explore the career and college opportunities available to them.
Jodi DaCosta, Elementary School Counselor, Harlan Elementary School, Brandywine School District
Dr. Jason James Jr.,  Adjunct Faculty and Doctoral Studies Field & Dissertation Advisor, Wilmington University

Planning Education to Support Career Goals
How can we help students and parents more effectively plan for education to support career goals? This Idea Exchange will discuss why college and career are often addressed as separate issues for students, fueling the thought process that some students are on a college path and some are on a career path. Discussion will focus on how to change the conversation so that students and parents are considering how education can support a student’s career goals.
Shana Payne, Director, Higher Education Office, Delaware Department of Education

Preparing Students for College and Career
How can we prepare students with knowledge and skills that will provide them with options after high school? This Idea Exchange will focus on programs that align academic and technical knowledge at the secondary and postsecondary levels, creating multiple entry and exit points for students to pursue a career and continue their education. Discussion will include Delaware Pathways and Career and Technical Education.
Lisa Stoner-Torbert, Policy Advisor, Career and Technical Education, Delaware Department of Education

Educator Support & Development

Teachers and school leaders are the two most important in-school factors contributing to student achievement.

These Idea Exchanges will explore topics related to many of the educator support and development recommendations in Student Success 2025 spanning the entire career of teachers and principals including:
• Preparing the best and brightest to work in Delaware schools
• Placing educators at schools where their talents are needed most
• Meaningfully supporting educators throughout their careers
• Rethinking compensation and career paths to create new roles and responsibilities

Advancing Teacher Leadership
How can we provide accomplished teachers opportunities to advance professionally without leaving the classroom? This Idea Exchange will explore meaningful teacher leadership opportunities and roles that would allow classroom educators to share ideas, to learn from thought leaders, to develop skills, to help scale best practices on instruction and innovation throughout the state, and to advise policymakers at the local, state, and national level on critical education reform initiatives.
Jesse Parsley, Assistant Principal, Milford High School, Milford School District

Aligning Teacher Supply With School Needs
How can we ensure a supply of teachers aligned with the needs of Delaware schools? Given the fact that enrollment in teacher preparation programs has significantly declined statewide and across the nation, this Idea Exchange will explore steps necessary to ensure an adequate supply of teachers aligned with the needs of Delaware schools.
John Pelesko, Associate Dean, University of Delaware

Collaborating on Digital Student Resources
How can teachers collaborate to create digital resources that any student in Delaware can access? This Idea Exchange will explore solutions to the fact that teachers individually cannot develop all the personalized lesson materials for each and every student. It will explore the concept of a repository for digital resources; involving teachers from across the state as well as the community in creating resources; and the role of technology in this collaboration.
Tim Brewer, Instructional Technology Coach, New Castle County Vocational School District

Ensuring Equitable Access to Excellent Educators
How can we ensure all students, particularly those in high-needs schools, have access to excellent educators? This Idea Exchange will explore some of the work currently underway across the state, including the Delaware Department of Education Educator Equity Plan and surface promising practices at districts and schools. The discussion will identify opportunities to ensure all students, particularly students from low-income families and students of color, have access to excellent educators.
Angeline Rivello, Associate Secretary, Teacher and Leader Effectiveness Branch, Delaware Department of Education

Preparing and Supporting Principal Candidates
How can we prepare and build the capacity of principals to lead long-term sustainable change in high-needs schools? This Idea Exchange will discuss how to ensure our school leaders have the tools and capacity needed to create systems and structures that will address the unique needs of the school they are in. Issues to be discussed will include principal preparation and leadership training, and focus especially on raising student achievement in our lowest performing schools.
Julie Giangiulio, Principal, East Dover Elementary School, Capital School District

Preparing Teacher Candidates
How can we prepare teacher candidates to meet the needs of students in Delaware schools? This Idea Exchange will discuss ideas about which skills and attributes teacher candidates should have to be effective teachers in Delaware schools, and explore how these competencies could be developed in teacher preparation programs so that candidates are “learner-ready, day one”.
Laura Glass, Director, Delaware Center for Teacher Education, University of Delaware

Supporting and Developing Principals
How can we differentiate support for school principals through feedback and coaching? This Idea Exchange will discuss the critical role that school principals play in supporting teachers and providing feedback aligned with the needs of their students and school. It will explore the how and why of coaching principals to learn and grow as instructional leaders.
Peter Leida, Director of Elementary Schools, Colonial School District

Fair & Efficient Funding

Delaware’s funding system was built on the structure of schooling in the 1940s, when students’ individual learning differences and needs were less understood. Delaware is one of the few states that does not provide additional resources for low-income students or English learners.

These Idea Exchanges will explore topics related to many of the fair and efficient funding recommendations in Student Success 2025 aimed at improving education investments by
• Ensuring that high-needs students such as those living in poverty and English language learners are receiving the resources and supports needed to be successful
• Measuring and improving effectiveness of investments
• Providing more equitable access to excellent teachers

Advocating for English Language Learners
How can we be advocates for children who are English language learners? This Idea Exchange will focus on mobilizing the community to advocate for and provide necessary supports and resources for English learners. Conversation will include the state’s five-year strategic plan to prepare English language learners with the linguistic, cultural, and academic skills necessary in the 21st century.
Terry Richard, Title III Program Director, Delaware Department of Education

Erasing Inequitable Access to Great Teachers
How do we ensure equitable access of all students to great teachers – and what does this have to do with the funding system? This Idea Exchange will explore what systemic changes could ensure that all students, particularly those in high-need schools, have access to highly effective teachers. Issues will include how schools get their funding, salary schedules, local hiring practices, and barriers to attracting and retaining quality staff to high-need environments.
H. Raye Jones Avery, Executive Director, Christina Cultural Arts Center

Measuring Education Investments
How can we measure and improve the effectiveness of education investments? This Idea Exchange will solicit ideas around how to measure and improve the effectiveness of education investments through improvements to the existing funding system and also options for changes to the current system.
Daniel Rich, Director, Community Engagement Initiative and Professor of Public Policy and Administration, University of Delaware; Policy Director, Wilmington Education Improvement Commission

Supporting High-Needs Students
How can districts support high-needs students with resources for success and what more can be done? This Idea Exchange will explore how districts utilize their dollars today and what more could be done with increased state investment for better support high-needs students such as English language learners and low income students.
Susan Bunting, Superintendent, Indian River School District

Personalized Learning

Personalized learning empowers educators to tailor instruction and wraparound supports for each unique student, recognizing strengths, interests, needs, and pace. As we look at education more holistically, we realize that the emotional and physical wellness of children are increasingly important to their long-term health and academic success.

These Idea Exchanges will explore topics related to many of the personalized learning recommendations in Student Success 2025 including:
• Holistically developing students by integrating academics with the arts, health, and community supports
• Providing schools with the technology and infrastructure to tailor instruction to all students, including students with disabilities
• Enriching student ownership of their learning through redesigned schools and classrooms

Designing Schools of the Future
How can we build the schools of the future to enrich student ownership of learning? This Idea Exchange will explore the use of design thinking as a method to develop new school models. A case study of a Delaware high school will be presented, with examples of how design thinking has shaped both the current school model as well as the student experience.
Dr. Cristina Alvarez, Chief Executive Officer, Design-Lab Schools
Jozlynn Johnson, Student, Design-Lab Schools

Developing Growth Mindset through Gaming
How do gamification and computer coding support students in the development of a growth mindset? This Idea Exchange will provide a brief overview and demonstration of technology based gaming/coding to explore how these technologies aid in the development of the habits of mind necessary for 21st century careers.
Michele Johnson, Library & Gifted and Talented Teacher, Towne Point Elementary School, Capital School District

Developing Students’ Social Skills
How can we ensure all students have the social skills to make and keep friends? This Idea Exchange will share work underway to support students’ social skills development, with discussion of how strong social relationships correlate to positive life outcomes for both students with and without disabilities.
Deborah Boyer, Director, School Age Services, University of Delaware Center for Disabilities Studies

Empowering Youth through Collective Impact
How can the asset framework serve as a statewide collective impact model for supporting youth? This Idea Exchange will explore collective impact at the state level and the role of community organizations in providing opportunities for asset development and youth empowerment. IM40, a movement that promotes positive youth development for adolescents in Delaware, will be shared for discussion.
Tynetta Brown, Associate Director, United Way of Delaware

Integrating Arts and Academics
How can we integrate arts and academics to develop creative critical thinkers? This Idea Exchange will outline and define arts integration, its role, and its impact on students. National as well as local context and case studies will be shared, and participants will work to uncover additional opportunities to expand this work in Delaware.
Kim Graham, Director of Education, Christina Cultural Arts Center

Integrating Health and Academics
How does health factor into a student’s performance in school — and what can be done to promote student health in schools? This Idea Exchange will explore how physical health correlates to students’ academic performance at school. Current research and data will be shared, as well as opportunities for attendees to advocate for specific policies to support students’ physical health and academic performance.
Kelli O. Thompson, Director, Department of Operations and Support, Nemours Children’s Health System, Division of Health & Prevention Services

Integrating Supports for Students
How can we design a new system for 21st century learning that holistically supports all students? This Idea Exchange will discuss how to integrate an array of solutions to mitigate the effects of poverty and level the playing field for all students. The solutions to be discussed include personalizing learning for all students; increasing access to quality out-of-school learning opportunities; and braiding health and human services with educational services.
Paul Reville, Francis Keppel Professor of Practice of Educational Policy and Administration, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Investing in Technology Infrastructure
How can we support personalized learning with proper infrastructure investments across the state? This Idea Exchange will address the state’s education technology infrastructure needs in order to ensure that all students have access to learning environments suited to their unique needs and interests. Examples from BRINC districts will be shared, and participants will work together to brainstorm potential solutions.
Patches Hill, Technology Systems Manager, Indian River School District

Reimagining Learning through Technology
How can we close equity gaps through personalized learning and innovative uses of technology? This Idea Exchange will focus on the importance of personalized learning in providing equitable education opportunities for all students and using technology to unleash the potential of all learners.
Richard Culatta, Chief Innovation Officer, State of Rhode Island

Supporting Students Experiencing Childhood Trauma
How can we holistically support the social, emotional, and academic wellbeing of students who have sustained trauma, live in foster care, are homeless, live in poverty, or experience toxic stress?  This Idea Exchange will focus on what schools and community organizations can do to understand the impact of adverse childhood experiences on learning, and create strategies to meet the social-emotional needs of students.
Eliza Hirst, Deputy Child Advocate, Office of the Child Advocate

Transforming the Student Experience
How can we develop personalized, student-centered learning environments at the elementary level? This Idea Exchange will highlight the experience of one elementary school in Delaware that has transformed its student experience to support a more personalized experience for students, via increased student ownership and relevance.
Doug Timm, Principal, Carrie Downie Elementary School, Colonial School District

We are offering a limited number of scholarships for teachers who are interested in attending the 9th Annual Conference on Education. To apply or request more information, please click here.

Teachers and administrators who attend the conference can also earn 4 professional development credit hours. To receive this credit, one must register for the conference through the event page and register for the course through the Professional Development Management System (PDMS).

PDMS Instructions:

Course Title:  Ninth Annual Conference on Education
Course Number:  25415

  1. Log into IMS at
  2. Click the PDMS icon
  3. Search for course number 25415
  4. Click the Register button on the right-hand side of the screen
  5. Click the Next button on the lower right-hand side of the following screen