Dorchester County School Board presents Starfish Awards

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Dorchester Banner/Paul Clipper
Community Involvement Liaison Valerie Goff, Superintendent Henry Wagner, and Supervisor of Student Services James Bell hand out Starfish awards to school system volunteers at a ceremony at DCTC May 13.

CAMBRIDGE — Dorchester County Public Schools recognized school system volunteers on May 13, with the DCPS Starfish Awards. Presentation of the awards, to volunteers from community leaders to concerned parents, and volunteers already employed by DCPS, took place at the Dorchester County Technology Center.

The name of the award might seem odd. Dorchester County Supervisor of Student Services James Bell tells the story: “One day, there was a little girl on a beach. On that beach, there were a number of starfish that had washed onshore. A crowd had gathered and watched this little girl one by one take a starfish and throw that starfish back into the ocean. Of course the crowd began to grow and watched what the little girl was doing. A few of them got nerve enough to go up to the little girl and said, ‘why are you throwing those starfish back into the water? It is not going to make a difference, there are hundreds of them on the beach.’ The little girl became discouraged, but then she mustered her courage to reach back down, pick up another starfish and throw it in the ocean. Then she said, ‘It makes a difference to that one.’”

Imagine each of the starfish in the above story is a student at Dorchester County Public Schools, and if a volunteer can engage a student, make subjects more understandable, help that student connect — it makes a tremendous difference in that student’s life.

“What you all are doing is making a difference one student at a time,” Mr. Bell said, speaking of the efforts of the volunteers in the audience.

One of the first actions of Dr. Henry V. Wagner Jr., Dorchester County Public Schools Superintendent, was to form an advisory council of community and business leaders in an effort to bring people together to give Dorchester County youth another step up in their education efforts. Dr. Wagner believes in a set of “power verbs” that the district has chosen to live by — Teach, Tutor, Confer, Mentor and Recognize.

In recognition of the many volunteers, the Starfish program paints a picture of the success of its efforts. Though it is difficult to keep accurate track of volunteer hours, by the end of April, over 6,400 documented hours had been donated to schools this year, by almost 500 individuals.

The Superintendent’s Business Advisory Committee works in conjunction with the Office of Student Services to recognize individuals making a difference in the school system. A “Starfish” recipient exemplifies their dedication by helping our schools and students be successful, engaging, and principled.

Special Recognition on Friday was offered to Charles “Buzz” Follmer, retiring Guidance Counselor from Warwick Elementary for his exceptional support of the Character Counts program in the schools; and to Judge Steve Rideout, former member of Superintendent’s Advisory Council, former volunteer in the schools, and ‘grandfather’ of the Book Buddy reading program.

Award winners present on Friday included:

DCPS employees: Erin Fitzgerald, Alfredia Stanley, Arneda Hopkins, Felicia Ellis, Melody Adkins, Donna Brake, Bill Fleming, Charlotte Hanson, Donna Greenleaf, Patricia Whitney, Anne Manganaro, Renee Hesson, and Andre Beulah.

Superintendent’s Advisory Council:
Susan Banks, Dorchester County Economic Development
Cyndi Slacum, Eastern Shore Area Health Education Council
Dean Goodwin, RPS
Jayme Hayes, Junior Achievement of the Eastern Shore
Gale Collins, Collins Consulting
Roger Harrell, Dorchester County Health Department
Laura Layton, Dorchester Retired Educators
Susan Luby, Character Counts Mid-Shore
Volunteers of the Month, 2015-16 school year:
Dianna Travers, Sandy Hill Elementary
Eileen Biava, Cambridge South Dorchester High School
Elaine Cephas, Hurlock Elementary
Jeff Webb, Vienna Elementary
Gwen Handy, North Dorchester High School
Ginger and John Durkin, Maple Elementary
Brandy Knopp, Choptank Elementary

Parent Involvement Matters Award semi-finalist: Kimberly Young-Conner

Hometown Hero Award: Bessie Griep

Special Recognition

Charles “Buzz” Follmer, retiring Guidance Counselor from Warwick Elementary and exceptional supporter of Character Counts program in the schools.

Steve Rideout, former member of Superintendent’s Advisory Council, former volunteer in the schools, and ‘grandfather’ of the Book Buddy reading program.

Recognition to volunteers with 50+ hours of service 2015-16 school year
200+ hours:

Eileen Biava, Cambridge South Dorchester High School
Bessie Griep, Maple Elementary
Paulette Meekins, Maple Elementary

100+ hours:
Julia Barker, Sandy Hill Elementary
Jack Diehl, Maple Elementary
Mary Beth Fitzhugh, Maple Elementary
Gwen Handy, North Dorchester High School
Anne Nehring, Warwick Elementary
Christina Robbins, South Dorchester K-8
Dianna Travers, Sandy Hill Elementary
Jeff Webb, Vienna Elementary

50+ hours:
Doris Brashier, Maple Elementary
Elaine Cephas, Hurlock Elementary
Ginger Durkin, Maple Elementary
John Durkin, Maple Elementary
Lori Parker, Maple Elementary

Volunteer recognition:
Kathi Bambrick, Maple Elementary
Brandy Knopp, Choptank Elementary
Kawana Webb, Maces Lane Middle
Kim Donohoe, Maple Elementary
Donnie Webb, Maces Lane Middle
Elaine Cephas, Hurlock Elementary
Michael Nordstrom, Maple Elementary
Marco Harris, Sandy Hill Elementary
Tina Weber, Maple Elementary
Tom Corbett, Vienna Elementary
Jennifer Burton, Warwick Elementary
Page Gray, Sandy Hill Elementary
Dianna Travers, Sandy Hill Elementary
Sandra Hare, Hurlock Elementary
Diane Marquette, Sandy Hill Elementary
LeVonte Edmonds, Sandy Hill Elementary
Ella Stanley, Maple Elementary
Gwen Handy, North Dorchester High School
Connie Wilson, Hurlock Elementary
Robin Stanley, Maces Lane Middle
Charniqua Neal, Choptank Elementary
Renee Copper, Maple Elementary
Donna Weems, Sandy Hill Elementary
Bessie Griep, Maple Elementary
Chareka Harris, Maces Lane Middle
Lori Parker, Maple Elementary
Jeff Webb, Vienna Elementary
Lenny Pfeffer, Warwick Elementary
Julia Barker, Sandy Hill Elementary
Dianne McClarren, Sandy Hill Elementary
Sarah Jensen, North Dorchester Middle
Frances Strohmer, Sandy Hill Elementary
George Ames, Sandy Hill Elementary
Beebe Winterbottom, Sandy Hill Elementary

Invited but unable to attend:
Julia Bond, Maple Elementary
Jennifer Daniels, Sandy Hill Elementary
Ham Brake, Maple Elementary
Jessica Webster, North Dorchester Middle
Addie Eckardt, Sandy Hill Elementary
Frank Wilson, Hurlock Elementary
Ginger Durkin, Maple Elementary
John Durkin, Maple Elementary
Emily Collins, North Dorchester Middle
Lois Elliott, Maple Elementary
Charniqua Neal, Choptank Elementary
Debbie White, Maple Elementary
Brandie Robinson, Sandy Hill Elementary
Tina Ryan, Sandy Hill Elementary
Paulette Meekins, Maple Elementary
Susan Matthews, Sandy Hill Elementary
Jeff Phillips, North Dorchester Middle
Jerry Jones, North Dorchester Middle
Debra Lantz, Maple Elementary
Anne Whaples, Sandy Hill Elementary
Denise Dvorak, Maple and Sandy Hill Elementary
Mary Beth Fitzhugh, Maple Elementary
Stephanie Alexander, Sandy Hill Elementary
Michael Rickwood, North Dorchester Middle
David Talley, North Dorchester Middle
Bob Sellers, Sandy Hill Elementary
Samantha McDonald, North Dorchester Middle
Candace Tobin, Sandy Hill Elementary
Emily Stone, Hurlock Elementary
Dawn Turner, Maces Lane Middle
Jodi Jews, Maces Lane Middle
Linda Landrum, South Dorchester K-8
Armah Dashiell, Maces Lane Middle
Emily Corbman, Sandy Hill Elementary
Abby Tyner, North Dorchester Middle
Christina Robbins, South Dorchester K-8
Chelsea Phillips, Choptank Elementary
Tom Whewell, Hurlock Elementary
Consuelo Coffman, Hurlock Elementary
Damien Ransome, Maces Lane Middle
Vatice Walker, Vienna Elementary
Jodie Condon, Vienna Elementary
Jeff Grafton, Sandy Hill Elementary
Brittany Smith, Vienna Elementary
Rhonsha Duncan, Maces Lane Middle
Tennille Reid, Vienna Elementary
Kelly Schwarz, South Dorchester K-8
Aubrey Albright, Vienna Elementary
Ann Abey, Warwick Elementary
Jim Marquette, Sandy Hill Elementary
Amy Betts, Warwick Elementary
Kelli Short, Vienna Elementary
Amy Werner, South Dorchester K-8
Crystal Henningsen, Vienna Elementary
Christi Hall, Sandy Hill Elementary
Rich Ledger, Warwick Elementary
Ron James, Warwick Elementary
Suzanne Swann, Vienna Elementary
Jeff Alexander, Sandy Hill Elementary
Shelli Blake, Warwick Elementary
Rodney Knox, Sandy Hill Elementary
Amy Warfield, Warwick Elementary
Faye Dodson, Vienna Elementary
Christina Zayas, Warwick Elementary
Melissa Radcliffe, Sandy Hill Elementary
Anne Nehring, Warwick Elementary
Brittany Smith, Vienna Elementary
Robin Dukes, Warwick Elementary
LaKeshia Elliott, Sandy Hill Elementary
Kim Young-Conner, North Dorchester High
Camelia Wahl, Sandy Hill Elementary
Sydney Milligan, Sandy Hill Elementary

There are twice as many volunteers recognized who were not able to attend the presentation, and the school system offered a heartfelt thank you to them as well. To volunteer, contact the school district at 410-228-4747 or at www.dcps.k12.md.us.

Paul Clipper is the editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at pclipper@newszap.com.

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