A Trio of Hope

Maintenance swooped in and before you knew it, a simple wall that served as slideaway divider for courses in literature, science, mathematics, robotics, advisement, Critical Thinking and much more revealed to become a ballroom proportion of celebration.  2019’s Math & Science and Classic Upward Bound adapted, grew, and learned how to meet the ever changing needed of a world often insensitive to populations of need. 

Not enough can be said of an institution that houses a program that reins in students that would easily be lost to the opportunities of promise and potential and present these as possibility (say that 5 times fast).  Individuals that will go on to become actuaries, medical pioneers in cures for cancer, doctors, civil rights activists, legislators, medical emergency and program staff, educators, and a legion more of changing the future individuals are motivated, accelerated, and prepared for a future that initially held no potential for their success. 

Not enough can be said of the efficiency of the maintenance group that day in and day out can make the transformations needed at Del Tech to allow these day to day changes happen for the faculty and students.  When the students see this transformation, they see how an institution like Del Tech at Georgetown reinforces the idea of adapting to a world that changes around them.  Add to this the technical assets of running sound and displays As Mr. Russ Hamel did, and you again have the benefits of what seems to happen at the snap of fingers, and realization sinks in that media specialists such as Mr Russ, who served in the Air Force, used his expertise and patience to display from 6 – 8 projected images at one time during the Classic Upward Bound Awards Ceremony, and do with grace.

Students rose to the challenges of a country that at many turns puts down the element of diversity that hinders this country and forgets the diversity that made this country.  These students represent a huge diversity bank of education and potential, are here to remind the country, give us your all and we will make it all greater.

100 years.JPGI get it, most people see the teaching profession as a summer off, part of the year, with holiday time position that offers so much more vacation and opportunity for freedom of most occupations.  I have found out if you are content to be a teacher, that is great, if you want to be an educator, there are never summers off.  Let me count the summers I have had off, the evenings I have not carried a master plan of tweaking a lesson, a day that went by without wondering how the increasing number of homeless, needy, and dependent future learners would get through this year, while meeting the demands of the state, the spaces of need from the community, and the expectations of my administration, while still meeting the expectations and success rates of their minds?  These facts of personal and mental needs never come close to registering the check boxes that state assessments measure, for most students their success of achieving a lesson, a unit, a semester of information never registers on a state report card; they made it a year with the food, shelter, and transportation they did not have before attending a particular school, which is a 100% success rate not measured on most state assessments nor asked for my the body at large.

I thought this and countless more as I thought about my own course, this summer, Critical Thinking. How do you take the idea of Critical Thinking, in this case presented by Wabi Sabi , and insure that the day to day changes that are occurring after the curriculum was created are still incorporated?  I realized the past institutes of Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots Community Mapping, the existence of YSA to encourage students to apply for funding and their own paths of seeing projects become reality, and learning how to apply Critical Thinking to discerning fake from real news, fake

a Jake Palenski (@jakepalenske)  workshop from Columbia University’s Scholastic Press Assocation, and making ideas come alive in their own community – add all those together like scrapple and you have a tool kit that shows how education is invigorating, exciting, and not just for an adult world, but for our world, every belief, every culture, every race, every interest area.  I realized realized students will see the amount of diversity and combining /intertwining.complexity that a lesson involved, seeing educators pull their experiences from 10 years ago to 10 days ago to, as well as using something as simple as Powerpoint to something as diverse as Trello, they get it. 

Investors in education see how English, Trig, Financial Education, Calculus, programming, Science, Biology, Foreign Language, and MORE all come together to create a better tomorrow and force that recognition of how diverse languages, cultures, beliefs, talents, and interests, that form neighborhoods, THAT makes America great, THAT makes American America, and always the lead for potential.  This starts from the recognition of the maintenance that allow this to happen, the supervisors to directors to find funding for these possibilities to occur, to the administrators that oversee the way to let the public know what is happening, back to the parents and students that buy into never ceasing to use their summer to grow, and grow in several directions. Being represented by

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Photo Courtesy of Del Tech Photography

U.S. Delaware Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester and Diaz Bonville, Kent/Sussex County Outreach Coordinator – is a huge step in showing how all can be invested. Having the support of Dr. Annie Norman and emphasizing the role of literacy during this program, even more exciting.

In the next several posts through out the next few months, you will also see highlights of various approaches to how education is presented in a way that resembles real life, conquering problems that exist and finding ways to solve them.  In Critical Thinking, we asked students using the skills they were given from C.R.A.A.P (and there is alot of that out there) to discern using research skills, Fake Real.JPGwhat is fake, what is real, and DO NOT rely on adults for that knowledge, rely on their             creativity .  Then moving forward using the skills of evaluating their immediate communities, map their communities to inventory their community’s assets and needs for human, environmental, and animal services.  Then moving into the students towards brainstorming solutions to those problems and needs not services by their community, what could students do?  In these steps the students were exposed to at least 4 different strategies developed from individuals from the U.K., Texas, Africa, and more locations and learned that scaffolding their learning is not a deficiency, but an asset when recognized. They learned that Math, Science, Language, English and technology all have a place to change the world for the better.  The realized the Trio of strength comes from individuals working together to smash the paradigms so many place on education, those that to base educations results on a neat little checklist or box, and walk away satisfied.  

It is up to past, current, and future generations to change the paths of how education evolves, is measured, and is given for the most productivity for our immediate communities.  It is a pleasure to devote a year round application on education for that aim, and the Upward Bound Program has so many layers of education pushing on educational information received from all year long, it is no wonder we see students accepting full four year opportunities after leaving this program.  Education is a Trio of collaboration and it begins with each one of us to change that archaic ideal of what education is.  And have fun as it is happening.slide.JPG




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An Ode to Sisters’ Road Tripping Through Life.

Every year, my sisters would take a yearly road trip and yes, they never ceased to cause havoc along the way that would create memories of hilarity for years, and I mean YEARS, after.

One of the most difficult trips that my sisters Tracy, Melanie, Pam, Joni, Lisa, and her daughter Ericka would make would be supporting her fight with cancer.  Day in and day out, staying up for hours, rotating work shifts, and on the road all hours of the night, morning and afternoon making the treks to insure Lisa was not alone, ever.

When I was able to travel to Pennsylvania to visit Lisa, I was go glad to be able to receive and give family hugs like we used to when I was younger.  I never realized how grateful I were for my sisters until I was reunited with them. and see how they cared for Lisa, and you were able to see the selflessness they contained.  Many times previous my sisters continued to include Mom on their road trips and surprise her over and over. 

Road TripMiles never mattered, time and work were shifted aside and they made these visits happen as as a group.  Thank you my sisters for the sacrifices you made for Lisa and for our family over and over. 

Love you and love your selfless heart.  Many can take lessons on what is most important and what sacrifices needs to be made for their family, and thanks to you, you keep the spirit and heart of our family, as taught us by other Dad, alive every day, as well as those within our family like Harry R and Lisa.  Thank you.


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  1. refusing to be persuaded or to change one’s mind.
    “he is adamant that he is not going to resign”
    synonyms: unshakeable, immovable, inflexible, unwavering, uncompromising, resolute, resolved, determined, firm, rigid, steadfast;

    In my case, I have to say the definition of adamant is my sister Lisa Copney.  The one image is my sister Lisa, wearing a shirt with the words “beautiful” walking down the boardwalk of Ocean City causing all kinds of hilarity with everyone she came int ouch with.  That is the key about Lisa, she was always adamant about making sure everyone she came into contact with as many people as she possibly could, and no one would ever forget her infectious friendliness.

    I have to say I can recall hardly any one individual as unshakeable in her faith and beliefs as Lisa. When Lisa stood her ground, and stand her ground she would, there was about a .05 % chance at best you would gain any ground on moving her, I would say physically and hypothetically.

    What everyone knew about Lisa was that that her imposing frame matched the size of her heart.  She would be able to force, convince, and /or push you into something if she sensed you wanted, felt, or were unsure of moving forward with something on your mind.  There was not turning back on any sense of decisiveness, it was forward progress alone and no other possibility.

    As an unwavering pillar of strength, you realized that Lisa was the permanent foundation a family needed to regain the confidence in any steps in life you were unsure about.  Yes, this could sometimes take the form of stubbornness (not often seen in any family! 🙂 ), and sometimes being obstinate, but you never had to guess where her commitments were, she made it obvious to anyone that knew her, and that was her strength;  nothing could restrain her from her beliefs, be it her fight with such an unfair opponent as cancer, the daily challenges of life itself, and fighting the loneliness she felt with the absence of her husband Larry – she moved forward and provided a pillar of strength for her family and all those she considered her family.

    Add to this second quality the philosophy of being resolute, and you find the sister we found in Lisa that can never be replicated, forgotten, or ignored.  Her resolute nature would take her through some of the most difficult moments in her life, and she brought her family alongside her.  The moments you felt you had nothing left, you would see the fight in Lisa’s eyes, and realize you had much more than you gave yourself credit for to carry on through some of life’s toughest moments. 

    I could never find words to ever say goodbye to my sister Lisa, because I realized, there is no goodbye when you have a sister like her, always championing for you, her strength never wavering in the most difficult of times, so what would be your excuse seeing her fight with such imposing odds?  Despite her own struggles and pain she might be experiencing, her saying I love you were the easiest words in the world, just as saying hello to the stranger on the street, she made it that way.  You could see the piercing strength in Lisa’s eyes and the expectation to rise to any challenge, no excuses, and take on any obstacle that towered over anyone.  Despite Lisa towering over most people, I cannot think of anyone’s heart as large as her stature, when it came right down to the moment of how much she gave of herself to others, be it conversation, encouragement, or the strength to dig in and make the best of so much in life many take for granted. 

    The gifts Lisa continued to give day in and day out, on her best and most difficult days, were the very gifts instilled in each of us as family from day one from my brother Harry Randall and passed down from my Dad Harry. There are few moments in life when you have such a family that carries multiple names, and multiple gifts from the heart, and yet, Lisa managed to provide these, just as so many in our family have done before, on a continual basis.  That I realize, is the true center of love, giving of yourself despite the most difficult moments you have in your life, and realizing that selflessness allows you to move forward in your own life. 

    Lisa lived that philosophy of life every single day, and if we have learned anything from the love that Lisa has given each of us, it is to continue to celebrate life the very way Lisa taught each of us through her love, unshakeable, unwavering and resolute way of standing up for her family, views, and integrity of those she cared for.  Those were so many it is impossible to count, from the pizza delivery boy, to her sisters’ roadtripping adventures, to the family she created in her sons and daughters, grand-daughters and grandsons, and of course brothers.  

    It is not difficult to see the grit and toughness of every member of the Brake family in her eyes and gait, and how she created new family with that trait over the years. She always contained Ethel’s face from the very beginning, and carried her Dad’s get-through-anything determination, passing this on to everyone that found themselves within Lisa’s sphere of contact.  There could be no greater gift than Lisa herself, and knowing someone so strong as Lisa was willing to share these qualities with all those around her, and always end with “I love you” says alot about what is needed in this world.  Lisa always knew that and still does through each of us. 

    The amazing outpouring of condolences, comments and expressions of sympathy I have received from so many individuals that have come so dear to my life, are each a testament to the wealth, as someone with the last name of Brake, had been given from so many in my immediate family.  I am blessed to have so many family and friends that are family to always drop a line of thought when so many difficult times occur, and have my family to thank for allowing me to come into contact with so many people from around the globe.  This has kept me going through the darkest and most challenging of times, and always reminds me of the very gifts Lisa, Harry Randall, Dad and our family as a whole provides for us day in and day out.  There is no greater gift to be asked for.   Thank you for your love Lisa, it lets our light shine continually showing your life in front if each of us.

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Harry’s Trees.

“Is it Harold or Harry.”    Of course.  I get this question, and have received this question, honestly, since I have been in kindergarten.  Maybe longer (laugh).

Despite that question and the fact that Harry rhymes with alot that I also have pulled with me from my name, if you knew anything about my name, then you knew what my Dad, and brother (YES, both named Harry), did for others around them.  Anyone that crossed their path, at the drop of a hat, that needed something, it happened.  That is probably the most important gift one could want to be given.  it has remained with me through every possible catastrophe, good day, bad day, scary day.  It has remained with me with this countless times in meeting hundreds of people I never knew before, in the countries, of Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Canada, and all over the United States. It is everything.

Do you believe in events that are beyond explanation?  I am not sure we are talking something supernatural, but literally, events that, even when you pit them against coincidence, the explanation still falls short.  Some of you know about the Rings Around Us Story, who I tent to keep and reserve and give to individuals when it seems the right time, usually when some pretty dear graduates make that day, then it seems appropriate.

In referring to events you cannot explain, lately, as I always had been a country boy at heart when I roamed the fields behind my house and the farms I grew up beside, sludged through the creeks and collected waterbugs and brought weed after weed home for my Mom thinking they were hand-picked bouquets, I also was an avid reader.  I would hole up in my room and literally tear through pages between the mud and outdoors I brought in daily.  That also was Ia gift I would never realize how it would come back and repay me.

Yet, the last 3-4 months, as crazy and weird as it sounds, messages of my past, and ways to deal with the hardest and craziest of events that have been unfolding, have seemed to appear through the very pages of books, messages and symbols of my past in every other or so book and then, well, tonight.

Whether you realize it or not, there are very few Harry’s and not Harold’s in the world, and unsure if that has anything to do with it, but I tend to grab and relish the books that have the word Harry in them – pretty much just a hobby 🙂

Last year, I asked for books from Barnes & Noble, to help create book wreaths for Christmas, and as bad as I feel of dismembering a book, even a bad one, I know there are often advanced copies of books that are well, still usable for making a good Christmas Book Wreath, and less for reading, and not wasting/throwing away a book (can’t do it).

One book, of course, had the name Harry in it, and OF COURSE I was going to hold onto it and well, you know, check it out since it had my name on it.  A year.  Pretty much.  Give or take a few months.  A year that book faced me every day at school in the library, I looked at it and never, once opened it and checked it out but mentally noted, have to check that out one day.  Summer has come, and after loading 50+ books into the catalog since I became so intertwined with events during the year and then heavy events happened at the end of the year that simply took all my attention away, yesterday, of all days, I began again resolved to approach the postponed duties that I have neglected and try and get back on track, at least attempt.

The first few pages, not so impressive, I mean nothing out of the ordinary what did interest me was the author was also co-writer of Minority Report, directed by Steven Spielberg, and that is not something you often see in a book that has been left on a shelf for over a year and happens to be an advanced copy of a book you feel many have not heard of.

Yet a few pages on, okay, cool a character named Harry is the main character. Tonight, exhausting myself in lists I have delayed and traveling to get things caught up, come home, crawl into bed at 5ish as my body is simply worn out to match my mind – and compelled to crack open a few pages.

The moment when you begin to see events that existed in your own life, moments of where you lived, moments of conversation you have had in places that resemble so closely to the very pages you are reading – when this happens – a conversation begins between you and those pages that seems to almost be a message from someone reminding you of how you can get through some times that you wonder at the time, how will you ever get through these moments?  Most people who do not read enough will never see a book as anything more than that, pages to climb through to finish with no internal reward except conquering pages.  However, the difference between that experience and the experience of coming across a message that eerily touches with your own experiences, thoughts, and had some kind of touch on you that you can’t shake off, when incantations of your very own past appear between pages you digest – it is hard to define that experience unless you have been there.

I am stuck wondering how the exact same events and situations in some cases, have made their way to me in a book that I truly have never heard of, was given to me to be part of a Christmas wreath, and sat there waiting for a moment when it fit the moments I felt there could be no return from.  Hard questions, yes.  Coincidence, at some point you have to truly ask yourself, is it?

I am eager to see if anyone else is willing to go out and check Jon Cohen’s book, Harry’s Trees, so that we might have a conversation about how some of these events speak to you individually, but more than just a name, I had to put down the book at page 147 when a friend from Mexico sent me an email yesterday, and him writing,

“I KNOW how much you give and give and give to all those around you. You are the best. Your generosity is legend. I always think, Harry takes care of everyone. Who takes care of Harry?”

I know this sounds like bragging about me, but stop. Wrong message,  The point is that generosity that others see I give to others?  I have felt from day one, without thinking, a push to do those things, and that has always been, and still is what has been given to me from my family, my father, my brothers, my sisters, that is what I grew up surrounded by and was always given to pass on, period.  The last question really hit me hard.  That certainly is not a care to me, I mean not high on my priority list except for wanting top make sure I remain free of having to be on meds as I get older (healthy), maintain healthy relationships with my friends (those are the only relationships – (long story) and cling even more to the philosophy of modeling care of others when they are so many people willing to spew hate to others that are different for one of countless reasons.

I never had to have the time to worry about caring for myself, others have done that for me – literally in countries where people never even had a reason to care for me, they did.  This is one single reason why most individuals I see spewing hate at people or places they have never been, truly need to just halt before they say another word.  Until they have experienced one of countless events in a place where they know no one, and those around you help you, then the same care and attention needs to be thought of before spewing hate, but many will never have that thought in their heads, completely sad.  I have had the gift of countless individuals taking care of me without ever asking, and every single time it is a gift that seems to be a result of being named after two people that did the same for countless individuals around them.

When I stumbled across some exact phrases and words individuals had said to me many years ago, literally TO ME, what do you do?  How do you break that down and come to terms with that being just coincidence?  So many of us when it comes to schedules, our days, we are happy with agreeing that “We do not have time” or “When our schedules allow us to do that” and that time will come, 50+ years later when you cannot grab those days back at all, not even one.  If I learned anything from living in another country, it was to disregard the petty excuses and trivial reasons for truly living, and live.  Just live.  And bring others with you.

My challenge to you as we approach a weekend known as 24in48 (24 hours of reading in 48 hours) – whether you are a reader or not- and even if you do not get close to 24 hours of reading in 48 hours, grab one single read that has spoken to you and that might and you have been putting off for awhile, I bet it will surprise you or stir something inside you.  However, just one instance of recalling what is it like to stir up your past through pages, it has the power to move you to even greater things.  I hope there are a few out there willing to pick up Harry’s Trees where we can have a proper discussion on the very things that make and define us as individuals as well.  Alot of food for thought, but isn’t that is what life is all about?  🙂






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“Light as a butterfly in suggestion, yet heavy as a weight in inspiration.”

Revelations exist around us everywhere. Often I realize this simply by looking at thing differently, and sadly, this is not usually owed to me, to to experiences around me and those around me that open new lenses to see life through.  Today particularly, I am referring someone named Nancy Carmean Fields.

As odd as this sounds, as an English teacher, I was taught literary devices to use and apply to the world around us.  And I did, as well as teaching others to recognize and do the same.  Yet, as I looked at so many individuals that were touched by Mrs. Fields during her memorial today, so much sunk it.  It seemed those literary devices that existed truly were present to be applied in life at any time, not just when you were learning them a specific period in time.

Light as a butterfly in suggestion, yet as heavy as a weight in inspiration.  As I watched the images of nature and a scrolling film showing a lifetime of happiness at Mrs. Field’s service today, it was all there that really was worth learning.  I flashed back to the countless times on initially meeting Mrs. Fields, and it was on the racing course I believe, or it even could have been in  a classroom. The clarity came when you literally felt the presence that Mrs. Fields left with each individual.  Without a word, you would receive a look – a look that peered into your very soul and immediately had you feeling as if an lifetime of encouragement was always there for the taking.  When you talked to Mrs. Fields, you received an onrush of confidence and just enough positivity, that no matter where you were in wanting to do better, or feeling you did not give it your all, you were infused with feeling of possibility, of promise, of another chance being available.  Mrs. Fields never, ever gave up on anyone, whether you had come to know her through an athletic, educational, or by association of another, yet the motivation and trust in you as and individual was always there.

I am not exactly sure when I accepted the running bug for sure, but when I did, I looked to the coaches to push me, the participants to move me, and then there was always Mrs. Fields.  Even after her son Tim went through the “running system”, the power the Mrs. Fields had to always offer a home on and off the course, it remained.  I thought the coaches, the drills, the Adrenalin, the feeling of goals being met and smashed, would always be the keys to longevity.  After making running on the track and cross country courses, I realized all this time Mrs. Fields and her family had infused so much – family.  That was always present; as an athlete, spectator, coach, educator, and wannabe spectator, I realized whenever I had those good, and bad times, Mrs. Fields was the chief coach that inspired in countless ways I never had realized before.  That is the who Mrs. Fields is, the longevity on the support she was willing to provide, there was and is no expiration date.

Supporting picnic baskets and coolers full of food that provided essentials and staples of energy for athletes (and coaches) on far and near meets and truly being an all around sports Mom was certainly one side of Mrs. Fields.  I will never truly forget literally down to less than a week of leaving for Mexico, the Fields’ family insisting and creating a gathering of some of the most memorable individuals I had been lucky enough to call “family”, ranging from dear friends and former students, family members, all sending me off with a summer picnic/going away bash.  it was unforgettable, as was the infused confidence that Mrs. Fields always had in the wait for anyone that came within  her circle of need.

Add to this the very fact that the very difficult decision to return to the states, after creating a family of so close-knit individuals in Mexico, after six years and knowing inside how internally I was connected with so many individuals that had accepted me, yet part of this decision was easy.  When events began to occur facing me that proximity was necessary for changes happening in my own family, just as the moment of leaving and the Fields’ family was there to initiate a goodbye worthy of royalty, Mrs. Fields was the lifeline that brought me back.  It was her suggestions of a possible opening that enabled me to pursue the possibility of really returning to where I had started, and fitting perfectly into the window of enabling me to see my amazing brother before events would take him from me. Mark this off as coincidence, great timing, but those of you that are well familiar with Mrs. Fields will know that little has to do with coincidence when it comes to an explanation as this. At one time we both were in a different school district, and within months, we found ourselves in a different district, yet in the same.

I was intensely, superbly lucky to have found myself returning under such conditions.  I remember many times within the too short time we worked in the same district proximity, dropping of a simple meal of McDonalds items I had a hunch she liked as a tiny appreciation of thanks, and there she was, STILL supporting and helping me as I was transitioning through a difficult transition back after so long, and doing what she always did, providing her open door, her open arms for the support that she never asked for in return, but gave out as if her style of optimism was available at every corner.  Be it Mexico to the state of Delaware, it is obvious her impact has no boundaries whatsoever, no matter in what capacity she found herself in.

There is one story that is completely worth mentioning and connects with the spirit of promise that Mrs Fields always dealt out. When I first left for Mexico, I left without a vehicle for obvious reasons – going outside the United States into Mexico for the first time, and learning what I would be able to do and not be able to do would take some time for sure.  My vehicle graciously was being stored at the Fields’ residence and after two years, blindingly willing to tune this vehicle to make the drive TO Mexico – I remember coming home and picking it up after two plus years of not driving, and sliding into the Mercury Mountaineer, everything came back.  The piling of Cross Country runners into the back for the ride to Chapel, countless adventures.  Mr. Fields had brought it back to a brand new status mechanically and then some.

This is evident as the drive to Mexico was full of the unknown and little did I know, two other subsequent drives back and forth from Mexico City to Delaware, not one single incident occurred due to the meticulous care Mr. Fields had put into this vehicle.  Even when I returned on the drive back with three dogs and three cats and loaded with items, with gaskets that were just not quite right and firing (occurring in Texas) – I found myself believing the spirit that the Fields’ family easily let me get back in that condition due to the positivity that had been given from the very beginning.  I realized this was not just a gift of the time, effort and skill put into the Mountaineer, but also on that long four day and sometimes very (human lonely, not pet-lonely) drive returning to the states, the Fields’ were with me and all those memories scrolled with me the whole way back.

There are many reasons I decided to hold onto the Mercury Mountaineer, even with faced on selling it in Mexico across the border and purchasing a new vehicle, I just could not.  I cling to the memories that have been created with that Mercury Mountaineer, and from that being the defining vehicle that started my experience in Delaware, to the moment that I was so taken care of by so many, that vehicle is certainly is worth more than any blue book value or trade in on any vehicle. Monetary is there but there is much much more valuable in life.

So yes, I had been asked countless times to call Mrs. Fields, Nancy, countless times.  Maybe due to the fact that she did NOT want to be associated with baking hundreds of cookies for the masses.  However, when I say Mrs. Fields, I think of the Fields’ family as a whole, and that means everything for what the whole family has done and has continued to do for me to this very day. I can still recall the sounds mu my breath often thinking it was at it’s peak and hearing her encouragement, both sometimes yelling for support on the sidelines and at times a calm voice of reason, both Mrs. and Mr. Fields words of encouragement played in my ears, on the course alone, with others, on the drive from Mexico.  Replaying the conversations of admiration for her son and daughters accomplishments over and over, you knew you had someone of grit, substance, and support with every single conversation.

Her love for her family is legendary, and the family that she took in on a daily basis, is a lesson for everyone every single day.  So much like literary devices that ran through my mind today of all the moments she gave to others, proved to me that much around Mrs. Fields existed, BECAUSE of her willingness to sacrifice so much of herself for others. That is a legacy that changes people, families, communities, and the world.  it is absolutely, 100% positively true, All you need is Love.  I am one of a million affected and touched by what sheer kindness, compassion, and motivation can do and get you thrugh with laying aside all selfishness, prejudice, and grudges. That needs to be a testament to what can be as we support each other just as so many countless times – not blinders and guards to hold us back from any of our dreams. That is Mrs. Fields.

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Okay let me just put this out there in the eve of independence.  Life is more than memorizing data to get the higher score.  Yet, why does education insist that scores – grades – make the grade for success? Worse yet, legions of teachers across the nation buy into the system that believes success is certainly determined by the best score, the best rank, the best nod of someone’s head that passes that mark that someone is looking for.  I associate such collaboration the number one reason why we have so many teachers, and not so many EDUCATORS.

Thinking out of the box, critical thinking, what actually is applied outside of the four walls where individuals are initially a foundation of learning.  Luckily, there are even more individuals that but into something more than dittos, more than lectures, but to the doing part.

I say all this as a shout out to some pretty amazing individuals that served me in the capacity of an educator, both as a student and later as colleagues that surrounded me that encouraged me to never, ever, settle for the what the masses are content to settle for in education. Truly, if educators settle for the common idea of what education is, then those educators certainly revert to being teachers, and oh yes, there is such a difference.

In presenting and introducing a Critical Thinking Class this summer, all of a sudden, by matching students with their dreams and what they want to be, and matching them with members of a community in that profession, in two classes (TWO) we have over 36 students that are now examining their immediate communities and discovering needs, solutions, problems, and creative approaches to addressing needs here in our home state.  Two classes and this has happened. 

Two classes and they have discovered what Jane Goodall’s Institute did to change the approach to changing communities around themselves as women.  Two classes and they have discovered elevator pitches that look past what color, race, income level, or position an individual has and to focus on the idea, and presenting ideas in a totally different light.  Two classes and students have discovered the reality of life lessons in job choices, income and rent availability, and having to make tough choices that determine if they make it through one month of a budget line well below the average individual struggling to barely make it week to week.  Two classes and students begin to realize the power to change the communities around them depends on the energy they have to find a way, any way, to make their creative ideas infiltrate the emphasis on scores and tests and find their way to changing their communities amid so much negativity.

After two classes with students who previously have felt suppressed by what they have seen on paper via scores, students are reinvigorated by someone realizing what they can offer society based on their talents, something that will never be able to be gauged by tests, scores, or median lines of achievement.  Students are starting to recognize the abilities that contain and realize the frustration with teachers that refuse to let them bring those very qualities to light and apply them to the lessons they are presented.

It is going to be amazing to see the number of community leaders a small handful of students have communicated with in one summer and the ideas they will present to change so many aspects of our community for the better.  Imagine this happening all year!

Yet it all takes one of the largest gifts many teachers are unable, or prevented from giving students that will allow them to be educators.


I relish the instructors that were truly educators to me and allowed me to infuse creativity in every single lesson or approach that was to be given to someone next in your classroom.  These educators and luckily for me, my education at Slippery Rock University, made me feel guilty every minute if I would put my trusty in something that could not be acted upon in the real world.  Major kudos to the teachers who counted the days until the last day of school handed me ditto after ditto,


and made me never, ever want to be just a teacher, but an educator.  Certainly I believe in Karma and being lucky enough to have the privilege to become a Media Specialist Librarian, freed even more time to motivate, inspire, and challenge the norm of keeping education among four walls and taking this outside those four walls to really determine if education was happening.

I never cherished three words more than PBL (Project Based Learning) and thanks to over 21 years of being an educator (can you believe it?!) – I learned more than the students I have been lucky enough to share doing versus being complacent.  it has made every difference in the world in the what an education is and who determines who is the learner and what is learned.

A different take on what to be thankful for on the Fourth, certainly to those those who have given their own freedoms and lives to allow so many after them to keep ours. But also to inspire future leaders to reinforce the belief that to truly be free, one needs to apply their freedoms to the world around is.  it is up to educators, and not teachers to inspire that one word for others to change the world around all of us.




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Making Flag and Father’s Day your own.

I was slightly disappointed to not see more about it being Flag Day and a decent amount about it being Father’s Day.  Just a little bit of history is important to help realizations of how these holidays started –

Father’s Day began in 1972 (my birth year!) and I liked this article on this day

Flag Day’s history began in 1885 and can be traced back with this informative site.

In today’s world, there are so many exceptions to holidays, and yes, some individuals grew up without having a father figure – so where does that leave individuals that do not have a bloodline father to celebrate after?

What I have realized is I have been lucky to have many role models I have come across in my life those in my family, and those not that included educators, colleagues, extended family and more.  I have been lucky enough to have a father that worked countless hours for others and sacrificed so much of his own time for me and others.  Yet, I also have been lucky enough to have countless role models in friends, instructors, and more that easily filled that role of father.

When I think of Flag Day, despite the divisions and strange days our country has been through the last few years, there is something very patriotic about role modeling what a father figure should be to others.  Despite each individual situation, there is always room to make the changes you hope to see in future generations.  The role modeling of a father figure we’d want to experience can be received by anyone we come into contact with, from a customer, student, to a colleague, to a friend, to countless encounters that exist.  Making Flag Day and Father’s Day count for everyone we come into contact with goes a long way, and we each can easily make it our own, while living up to the standards we’d want to see in Father’s Day and Flag Day.

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Origins Carry Their Way Through Part III

Our Journeys, Our Stories, Our Delaware – When it comes to putting the community into a festival thanks to the following groups, this was possible on June 8th.  One of the biggest goals of the Literary Art Magazine at Woodbridge, titled The Riff, is to create a sense of community through a variety of arts. The individuals who played a part and gave their commitment, time and effort to set aside a day for the sake of expressing their vested interest in community – meant everything in the grand scheme of what we were trying to achieve.  That was to celebrate the community we have as the state of Delaware.

AmityFrom their involvement in the 5k as a pre-registration site and donations of fruit and water, to the contributions of making cookies, lemonade, and tea towards the goal of fundraising (and walking the items over to the festival) – Amity was all in from the very beginning of the plans of the event.  It is exciting to have such a coffee shop willing to be a part of the community to the degree you dream of, and this Amity did and more.  The festival was accented with flavor thanks to Amity.

Andrea Paun – Way back when this was an idea, I remembered the activities I took students to volunteer at, during the Cherry Blossom Festival.  We’d work a booth and make crafts with students and it was glorious.  Thanks to the ideas of Andrea, and the representation of the Baltimore Aquarium, her creative crafts were available and her nurturing for the animals as part of the petting zoo were complete 🙂  On top of that, aquarium memberships were part of a giveaway!

Bethany Beach Bookstore Through the two years since I have moved back, I have seen Bethany Beach Bookstore be a MAJOR player in the community for literacy.  From holding authors talks for the community, to inviting teachers into professional nights, to traveling to a festival to share what they have to provide to the public on all corners of Delaware, when you walk into their establishment at Bethany Beach, you feel that same magical feel.  The popularity of literacy is only gaining momentum, and books will never disappear from the horizon thanks to the generosity of giving back like Bethany Beach Bookstore does on a revolving basis.

Clean Delaware- What matters is having the services available when needed.  Clean Delaware was one of the most cordial, polite, and convenient services enabling the needs of the simplest of a festival.  The quick response, the friendly service, and accommodations being able to occur on such a short notice says much about how this company also invests in the idea of community.

The Comic Book Shop- The generosity of this Wilmington-based shop, from donating two consecutive times to Comic Cons at the Greenwood Public Library, shows that all locations of Delaware make up a community.  Is the trek to Wilmington worth it?  Yes.  This establishment has SUCH a wide variety of all items graphic, gaming, comics, graphic novels, jam packed with much that will draw you in.  My hope is more individuals will come to know pockets of Delaware they were unaware of previously and forms connections all across the state.

Cora LaudatoCora willing to stay up into the wee hours of the evening, through countless problems in saving the video and literally staying up all night to produce a video showing individuals what art can be?  Priceless. The original plan was for Cora, a former student when I was in Mexico City, to come to Delaware (now that she lives in Florida) and create a community space where participants could add to a mural, that would be placed somewhere permanent.  Due to alot of factors, Cora did the next best thing with a video, but the hope is to get her to come to next year’s festival and be among the masses in contributing to an art show and workshop involving all into specific types of art. Her willingness to contribute to the overall sense of art in many forms to a wider community explains the lengths art can take to tie individuals together. It is vital to have all representations of art that represent all aspects of community. her ability to combine art with physical structures with Maco Assembly shows the depth art can take.

The Days of Knights – Finding supporters in one location to support an event in another – helps grow a community of those with similar interests.  The Days of Knights enabled the ability to prizes to be offered for tournament play in a variety of gaming opportunities. While we did not have the numbers we wanted this time for a tournament, I hope we can redesign the plan to insure we grow this aspect of gaming, and community, and appreciate the willingness from a very popular store in Newark to help create a gaming community here.  Also, I see a chance to bring possible tournament players could visit this establishment as well and bring others to this location to find out how they involve themselves into the gaming arena.

Dolores Beam Art from  305 W Market Street, Greenwood, DE  If you are not sure what art this is, I bet you do and do not even realize it. When you pass Vanderwende’s on Hickman that turns into W Market Street, heading into Greenwood, you can’t help but pass a collection of art of all caliber on the right side of the road.  I like walking through all this art to simply see the everyday objects that can be turned into a sort of art.

Gear Up – It was exciting to have a chance to allow the public to meet Harrison Barnes who won The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, received the Billie Jean King Youth Humanitarian Award from ESPN, is attending the Espy’s, and received many WHS Scholarships while continuing to recruit for Gear Up.  His availability to to the community and wanting to involve others is what community is all about.

Gerald Carroll – Gerald and family saved the day with one of the main attractions of the day – easily – rabbits, chicks, and goats oh my.  The effort to make this happen – and in actuality happening – was AWESOME.  The gentleness of the animals as well as the patience he and the animals displayed during the whole event – it made the festival absolutely complete.

Greenwood Public Library – If you saw much going on at the festival then image the schedule at the Greenwood Public Library that day! A full schedule of events, from Jedi training, introduction to the Reading Summer launch, as well as the art represented from WHS students, Pokemon, coloring activities, Cosplay activities, graphic novel orgami, and lip syncing, and you get an idea of how extensive and varied were the activities Donna Carter worked on to allow a full sense of activities for over 150 attendees, just in the library.  Thank you Ms Carter for buying in completely to what a sense of community can look like in one day, let alone the rest of the year.

Greenwood Police and Chief RaughleyAfter seeing the amount of help Chief Raughley provided for the 5k and seeing him set aside his day, with his family as well, to promote information and services – it defined who I wanted to be defined as in a community.  I remember looking across the way during the afternoon and seeing his daughter take in the day during the festival and I was happy to see his family so much a part of this day.

Greenwood VFW and  VFW Auxilary- Starting back earlier this year, Mr. Bob Trapp expressed an interest to be views as a central location for the youth and community at large, more than simply scholarships given out.  Yearly, the auxiliary supports all the libraries with books donated and often choices of teachers of the year.  We wanted to set the local VFW in a position to provide more  perceptions of healthy activities provided to the neighborhood at large.  Their generosity in enabling the space and location for an event for providing this paradigm shift of what makes community and the VFW’s role in that is off to an amazing start.  Commander Hayes as well as all the commanders and members of the Greenwood VFW showed what power a partnership with the community can enable.

Heart Art The highlight of the day, other than this creative art initiative, was when several seniors were unaware of this booth being set up at the festival.  It was cool to direct them to Shelby’s booth and to see them jump in and do an activity there.  I loved this extensive network idea put into motion to benefit so many within our community, and extending outwards.

Hungry Howie’s Pizza –One of the largest supporters of community I know, Craig Dimes and Hungry Howie’s as well as Rita’s has helped countless times with 5k’s and other events such as Homecoming, Prom, and festivals like this.  I love the fact that he is located in Seaford and again emphasizing the fact that community is state-wide, not limited to a district. His energies and role modeling of what a community business is speaks volumes.

Impact Graphix Signs Literally out of the blue, Zeke Wing reached out and provided his services of signs to assist in letting individuals know more about the festival occurring on June 8th. His dependability, generosity, and willing to offer festival day advertising filled a need that would add another layer of the community at large being aware of this event. It still amazes me how many individuals of the community are willing to step forward to help a community activity occur.

Jamez Styles and A’Shon I loved having these WHS students willing to get up on stage and perform.  Their connection to the class is exactly what I hoped for in musicians that were willing to share their talents with others.  I hope to see more of this in the future as well!

Jewelry Etc. – I loved the fact that this individual called and wanted to play a part in this festival. The representation at this festival of individuals local to the community, and active in what they do to sell items, from local and afar, make up the goals of a festival in itself.  I appreciate the fact individuals are willing to represent various aspects of the community through businesses they have decided to represent.

Karen Johnson – Helping not only represent MCJROTC but her community through the Bridgeville Public Library, as well as Apple Scrapple, and this festival, Ms. Johnson truly just jumped right in to keep things rolling as vendors came in.  Her independent, wise, and jump in while rolling up her sleeves while getting the job at hand was invaluable in June 8th.  She was everywhere, and then back again.  Her support in allowing this to be a “thing” was priceless and pertinent to all happening and being able to be pulled off.

Kelly Pisciotta – Ms. Pisciotta’s patience and time spent gathering all the works of art from her students for display was – AMAZING.  The pieces were poignant, excellent, and supported the theme of art and being a community.  This was a GREAT addition.

L&W Veteran’s Remembrance Society  As I drove through Woodbridge and saw the posted street banners on the lights of the town that showed veterans of the past.  David Miller’s initiative involving interviews of veterans is a huge asset to the community.  I felt one of the best connections to the VFW, as well as informing the community as a whole is an initiative like this.  In contacting David at eaglemillerfly@gmail.com you can connect him with other candidates as well as how to attend an upcoming meeting to further his project.  It was ideal a project like this was present with a festival in the hopes of furthering informing communities of their history.

La Famila Mendoza – The exact right taste when you ate this taco or elote sent me back to the street corners where I bought tacos every moment I could.  Taking the time to set up, provide tortillas, tacos, and elotes for the festival, perfect.  The tastes that exploded when I ate the taco was an instant flashback to the tastes I associated and came to respect Mexico as a home away from home.  The food prepared by Monica’s family, sealed the fact that I needed them at any and all festivals that might come along.

Lynnez Salty Heartwork – Some of the most refreshing, creative, and art that reminds you that you are in Delaware was represented at this awesome booth. This is art that definitely enhances and expresses at the same time.  As a literary art magazine, this is what we want to focus on, art from all over the world, that represents the local community as well as shares universal ideas and themes at the same time.  It was an honor to have this art represented and we want desperately more events to showcase this creativity, beauty, and ingenuity when it comes to art.

Marvelous Produce When talking to Shane and Cassidy, it is not difficult to see that community is at the heart of their business.  Wanting to insure someone willing to represent community is part of such a community festival was essential, and it was obvious for how much the Marvels give to the community in the form of events and activities, their presence went along with the goals of this festival. Accessible, local, and friendly, is all you need to know!

Passion Fruit Juice – Wow.  That is for the taste, the motivation, and the quality that student Alyssa brought to the table.  Her passion fruit drink was undeniably a wake up call to juices and you only can experience this by the taste.  I came across passion fruit once in Puerta Escondido and fell in love with the fruit and the juice.  When I tasted this – I could not place anything close to that original taste I had in Mexico.  Add to that the fact that she insisted the proceeds went to the festival itself, as well as bringing an elaborate collection of clothes from New York to also make available for sale for the festival, you have a selfless individual that you want to succeed at such a festival.  I am already imagining the reaction when individuals realize the quality of the product she has for sale and when others come across the clothing she has to present.  This was and is a GREAT and refreshing addition to a community festival.

Seaford Parks and Recreation-Having a love and want to create healthy recreational activities when I taught and lived in Seaford, this is no different than a need in every community.  We were lucky enough to have Katie Hickey present to emphasize that community is a state-wide, city-wide, and district-wide asset.  it was exciting to see the opportunities to catch bands from June 1 to September in downtown Seaford.  We need much much more involvement from other neighborhoods to bring together an awareness of community in all areas such as Seaford to involve many others that attend school, work, and travel through so many neighborhoods in Delaware as a whole.

Tim Moore and Jon Rene Holmes Family – Again, the ability to set up a professional sound as well as provide a venue for singers, musicians, announcements, music in general and have a festival be a presence is a valuable asset.  Mr. Moore and Slim Street Sounds bought that presence and more, and his invaluable energy, time, and effort was the reason this festival had the feel of a community from every step of the way.

Tyler GreeneWhen I first saw Tyler play in Dover, I loved his style and energy.  He proved on June 8th he had a talent that stopped people and they listened.  They did on June 8th for sure.  What an asset to have as part of the festival – and I look forward to seeing more of him in the future!

Vault 13 –  Louis was the link to wanted to create a sense of gaming that tied everyone together.  His presence and experience, as well as shared vision to continue to provide activities and possibilities for gaming.  A success in school for Angela and Rebekah, we found this an area in need of attention to better for future events.  Louis spent much time to prepare the area for games and possible tournaments, and we received little attendance.  As with any starting point, if we believe in it we saw the options needing work to grow this aspect of the festival.  We will meet again and go back to the drawing board and find what factors need to be tapped into to enable this to be a success.  Louis’ ability, his creative approaches to gaming, from being able to paint figures and involve them in existing games, to the variety of games he has to offer, this is a huge asset to community.  Not even realizing his location was there originally, I thought many others weren’t aware either.  I hope to change that due to his goals of creating a community of gaming.

Vanderwende’s Ice Cream Ice cream and Delaware – community is a sense of what you obtain when you feel when you walk into Vanderwende’s.  Thanks to Vanderwende’s, who dropped alot and added to their schedule this year the WHS Prom, this festival, and many more to come.  I appreciate a local business that represents community events in so many ways throughout the year.

Woodbridge Class of 2019   It was inspiring to be able to see now alumni announce their officer positions and their message that went out to the Tory Haynes’ fund and cause.  I felt it important to have alumni be able to come back and be greeted and met with members of our community, so ideas, past events, activities, and in the future a picnic could be held where alumni are welcome to come back. If we could have a constant revisit of those from the past as well as those in the present, another sense of community is created.  It was a great finality to what WHS and community means coming together at the beginning or end of a school year.

Woodbridge FFA Defining Delaware as an agricultural and natural state is done perfectly in the variety of activities the WHS FFA works with other FFA and ecological societies with. One of the most important values of being aware of the nature around us, is tgo be more informed of what can be done.  I would like to see much more involvement from our community and our FFA to bring together outdoor projects that impact our community together for the better.  It was a natural aspect to want FFA to be involved in a community gathering.

Woodbridge High Marine Corp JROTC and Boosters – Truly the backbone of support, planning, and generosity was WHS’s MCJROTC – their support for all vendors, for all to keep the festival operating, it was found here. Their devotion and ability to impress the diversity of support they are able to provide is wide-ranging, and it was shown through the glimpse of how supportive they were during all stages of this festival.  The flag induction was just a small element of how much a presence the MCJROTC is in our community if given a chance.  Their activities help change the minds of community, that military is one aspect of who they are.  There are much much more to their talents as was shown through all the stages of this festival.

Woodbridge High PASE The students in the PASE classroom are responsible for alot of maintenance and upkeep of our school.  From recycling, to producing pamphlets, flyers, posters, copying materials, and laminating, the PASE students are the ultimate behind the scenes of making things happen.  Always able to produce products in a pinch, this collection of students are a very active element of WHS and helped produce the schedule and guides /directories for this festival.

Woodbridge Roaming Raiders – This group of students and organization provides opportunities for students to travel and understand culture from other countries. Today the sno cones provided another resource towards this path.  It obviously takes funding to travel and every possible festival that is available allows students to raise funds towards this cause.  It is always an asset to have students representing paths to learning.  Katie Sears always come to the rescue when it came to helping with supplies and this shows the extended support and generosity that levels of community provide to each other.

Woodbridge Select Ensemble The National Anthem was crystal clear and elegant.  These talented group of musicians helped start the day off correctly – and it was easy to see how they were able to fit right in when they traveled to Florida for America Sings in Orlando, performing locally, as well as many school concerts give many a chance to see what they work on and produce.  We need many more involved to support their talents, and hope this is a huge start!


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Origins Carry the Way Through – Part II

Exactly a week ago, many came together for the June 8th Community Festival in Greenwood to take a chance on a gathering to bring individuals together to celebrate something simple, but complex at the same time. I believe that the risk and chance these individuals and businesses took this day go far in showing that they have a commitment to community itself. I will attempt these in alphabetical order 🙂

Again, if we continue to create events that also benefit the community around us, I see us maximizing the events we are creating to better the word around us.

I wrote at the tail end of the previous blog post :

“Amity, Hungry Howies, and A TON MORE made this event happen, so please stay posted for Part II coming soon to let you in on what has to happen for a festival such as this, 5k and festival both to happen thanks to those that support it.”

This post deals with those that delved into making the 5k a success.  Another blog post will need to be devoted strictly to the festival, as you are seeing how incredibly involved and committed it takes from many to make such an event possible.  The 5k designated to Troy Haynes’ fight was a success thanks to the groups that came forward in an instant to make this event happen smoothly. While we are still working on the funds to be raised to rise above the cost of the event, the awareness of what we are possible of, what others are going through, is part of the resources that tie us together as a community.

5K (Results here)

Kicking off the 5k was a huge worry and then not due to those that made it a success.

Alastornia, Rebekah, Alexis – When a jam-packed day is in front of you, it is beyond relief to know that individuals such as these young ladies make the day doable.  From working the preregistration table to the finish line – everything was in good hands with these students willing to sacrifice their day for the success on this day. Their reliability and dependability speak volumes.

Amity – Without a doubt, a hub of Greenwood that provides relaxation, a time to reflect, and just a great place to socialize came to be a huge component of the 5k.  Providing a space to grab the pre-registration materials, as well as providing fruit and water – what seems as a simple thing makes an event complete success.  Starting with Amity as a co-location of this event made it possible from the beginning.

Bayhealth Wellness Center at Woodbridge High SchoolThe inclusion of water bottles provided for the 5k was perfect – and a great way to show how combining services in the community to healthy activities, brings so many together for a common sense of purpose. The paths to find out how to reach the community at large is always a challenge, and we are lucky to have a Bayhealth Wellness Center to reach out to many needs of students, right in our school environment.

Bridgeville Public Library – Thanks to Karen Johnson who helped bring open the dream of a unique trophy through the use of her 3d Printer.  I count on the ideas of mine and being able to do things from our own school library and Ms. Johnson never faltered when we needed the support.

The Cannons – From the history of fundraisers and school support at Seaford High School, to current years with prom and student government support, to this day -from Derek riding his bike leading the pack, to Dalton despite his back pain helping in the morning, as well as Ms. Cannon grabbing images of the day itself, one of many families made this day reinforced of why community matters so much in such an event.

Carmen Chona- The voice of the event as well as supportive medical needs, Chona sacrificed to be here as well as being able to bring supplies needed in the form of coolers and ice that would be needed for the event.  Her enthusiasm and expertise made the difference completely.

Coach Hood, has always been my sanity, my rock, my ability to follow through with the appropriate awards based on participants.  I simply seem to fold when it comes to who gets what trophy and medal – after the stress and worry that I find myself going through at the beginning of every 5k.  From the events we have held at Chapel Branch, to when we have coached together XC, as well as the sacrifices Coach Hood makes when it comes to taking her of family, Coach Hood has always found time to provide her time to make events such as these simply happen.

Colton Phillips – Without hesitation Colton helped redefine the map for the 5k based on the Haitian Chicken Benefit Run held in Greenwood around Thanksgiving.  His patience while not at home and constantly making sure an accurate 5k map was available was necessary for the race from the start.

Deez Teez- For printing up to the night before and making sure the logos were correct for race day.  Much much appreciated for all!

Derek- Willing to lead the group from beginning to end and help the race stay on track was an extra that enhanced the race.  Thank you for letting us rely on you!

Families and participants made this happen. Robbin Wells first thing in the AM offered to help as she picked up her preregistration packet, she was amazing.  Cassidy Thomas was super patient when her packet wasn’t ready the day before at WHS.  The Kerrick, Deford, Syerra Smith and family and Knutsen families came out, as well as the spirit of Darren Camper, past runner Ben Russell, high school students as Adam, Bethany, Syerra, Mackenna, and younger students, and EVERY SINGLE PERSON (list here)  participating – every single person added to the quality of this event this day.

Greenwood City – From every meeting we had leading up to this event, the city was supportive and inviting.  Thank you for letting this be a reality.

Greenwood Police Department and Fire Department – The planning, the implementation of safety and guiding participants, to simply providing the extra maps and advice on the event overall, the Fire and Police Department never hesitated once to make this event the best it could possibly be.

Greenwood Public Library – Weeks before the event as well as the day of the 5k and use of the parking lot, are a smidge of how public libraries can collaborate with school libraries and create events that can impact the community around us. Donna Carter helped reinforce the fact that components of public and school libraries and design a huge host of events that at the libraries alone, would preview the 5k to happen this day.

Jon Rene Holmes – The ability to jump in and sacrifice her time for the day and this 5k made a massive impact.  From keeping the registration and start on track to helping with the discerning of medals and trophies to participants, and of course her connection to Mr. Moore that allowed us to have an amazing element of sound, this allowed all to occur for the 5k.

RunSignUp –Hands down one of the most service-friendly, efficient, and organized applications for events involving runs and walks, RunSignup makes the process easier than it should be.  This service allowed the planning of the 5k to happen with the smallest amount of effort.

Tim Moore, of Slim Streets Sounds, was the backbone that made this event spectacular. He devoted his time and energy to this event just for Troy Haynes. His setting up at 5:00 AM at the Greenwood Library parking lot and his expertise all through out, from wireless mics, to prepping all participants and announcing their accomplishments as they crossed the finish line – priceless. 

Wesley – Helping put put fires from a locked cashbox and no combination, to helping with setup and maps, to logistics of the 5k in general, Wesley came to the rescue.

The WHS MCJROTC’s willingness to be present at intersections, help with the halfway mark despite someone angry that we were making noise in setting up the table 🙂 – as well as their time given to plan weeks ahead of time, all of it allowed for a

Communities in Schools, MCJROTC, and TriSports

5k to run smoother than it would be without them.  Please do not forget their 5k Fun Run/Walk occurring on October 26, 2019, at WHS – this is yet another chance to be a sponsor for a healthy local event – as well as a chance to be a sponsor AND a way to give back to the community with items than are being collected for middle and high school students.  This is sponsored in coordination with Communities in Schools of Delaware and TriSports.






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Origins Carry the Way Through – Part I

With the completion of June 8th’s Festival and with Troy Hayne’s as the motivation for the June 8th 5k, , I am not sure many knew the origins of how this idea was thought of, but much of the thanks owed to so many needs to start at the beginning.

In starting a literary magazine from scratch in a new place, obviously, there is a challenge and frustration of time, money, and where and how do I start over, all over after a seven year period of success in a previous location.  Wanting to involve the community immediately, we decided to bring back a Battle of the Bands event as we did for several years at Seaford High.  James Weiler immediately loved the idea and has supported this effort, from Open Mic to the idea of Battle of the Bands as a joint fundraiser for National Honor Society and our literary art magazine.  While the energy and expectation was high, by the time August 2018 to January 2019 occurred, the hope of gathering artists that would be intriguing and exciting – it seemed either for us  to forget it or divert the idea until we were in a position to be able to create a group large enough to have a Battle of the Bands.  A newer idea came into play, creating a community festival that included as a part, and build that component will also having local businesses involved with assisting a festival that benefits the local community.  It fits well as the goal of our literary magazine was about community, roots of where we came from, where we are now, and where we hope to head in the future.  It seemed a proper direction.

The staff of The Riff, our newly created literary art magazine, held tough the whole way through this process.  The goal was to generate enough funds to afford the trip to New York to present at the CSPA in New York as a new literary publication in 2019.  Though we did not have enough time clearly to prepare a whole new publication in that short of time without putting together a proper staff – we were busy.  We instituted Open Mic’s, participated as a staff at Festival of Words, sent out a call for art and reached out to local artists, and participated in a local Art Gallery where our staffer Hannah and I had pieces displayed.  We are, believe it or not, still in the process of putting together our vision for March 2020, as well as all the previous goals, but the largest feat achieved was yesterday’s start of a Festival that we hope, will start a continuity of better and more organized and efficient festivals that celebrate a sense of community all over Delaware.

Regan as Editor in Chief and Alexis our Assistant Editor in Chief helped define the theme as ” “Our Journeys, Our Stories, Our Delaware.” In light of so many events that are STILL occurring this year, that theme still rings true as who we are right now as a new literary art magazine staff. They are the rock that remains steady and has a clear vision that a community involving art is possible.  Alastornia and Hannah stepped forward and became beacons of ideas and support to make the festival as well as finding new paths that will led our magazine forward.  Gabby continued to insure we were keeping the clearing house of art up to date on comments as well as Esther coming up with support to show this magazine might be a slow process but one that does not need to disappear and one that will grow with patience. The day of the event Alexis, Regan, Alastornia, and Hannah insured that the festival would keep moving forward effectively thanks to their support all day.  Alastornia, Angela, and Rebekah’s devotion to calling so many community members leading up to the event – PRICELESS beyond belief.  Add to that also graduate Kaelyn Parks – wow their phone and email contacts in the weeks leading up to this event allowed so much to happen, they are responsible for at least 80% of the contact that went out to participants.

The magazine The Riff is not in a place where I want to be as far as timeline. I just want MORE now, but I also realize the magazine is in a position to be at the center of the community as far as events and drawing people in, and maybe this is the starting place rather than progressing as a collection of art right now.  I feel our start is not the same start that Repentino. (Instagram – #repentino) was in another country.  I just have to come to terms with that, and be patient as this process develops and morphs into who we will become as a staff and publication.

The below are groups and individuals that made it quite possible that the event that occurred yesterday even occurred at all.

Greenwood VFWWanting to be more of a community member, willing to host youth events that involve adults in the mix, is the added element I respect.  The Greenwood VFW AND auxiliary does so much already with nominating individuals for awards, both educators and students, and providing resources for our school locally, but the ability to serve in a larger capacity for the schools and community is there.  This ability to do so, and willing to want to do more, is a testimony to not just one festival, but what is possible for other events in the future.  Our hope is their generosity in allowing this event to process will lead to more events that bring our community together.

Donna Carter and the Greenwood Public Library- From the very beginning, Ms Carter as the librarian at the Greenwood Library helped keep all the planned details in check and hosted a HUGE collection of events at the Greenwood Public library.  This allowed individuals to be able to take in the events behind the VFW, in the Greenwood Library, as well as the 5k that started in the library parking lot.  She was the half brain of this event that enabled a start to such a wide array of choices for such a festival.  The ties she has been willing to create to connect school libraries to public libraries? Priceless.  We even were able to present about this at the Maryland Library Association Conference this year, which featured a powerful and strong tie to these two forces in our communities, public libraries and school libraries.

Greenwood Police Department/Fire Department/Town of Greenwood-\Meeting with me frequently before the event and giving me time to present, as well as providing their support and guidance on the routes, process, and service for the day of this event was everything.  Seeing their families also involved in this day was more than most individuals could ever want tied to an event. It makes a difference in everything when you see organizations such as these provide the steps to have a successful event to bring communities together, and it is even more rewarding to see absolute supporters of all the community in such great organizations as these three in Greenwood.

Woodbridge Class of 2020 – It is difficult in my memory to have seen a select number of students from a Class willing to be so involved.  However, add Indya, Jasmine, Rachel, Trey, Anthony, and Confidence as students as a part of the Class of 2020, and all year they have supported other clubs, organizations and community events.  Amazing group.  The day of the festival Indya and Jasmine, Anthomy made sure their presence was all over the festival and Rachel participating in the Select Ensemble all showed how they supported Trey and Troy during this time in their lives.  Confidence, while attending a HOBY Leadership conference did help behind the scenes leading up to this festival to make sure alot of loose ends would be tied together for the day of.  A soon to be graduating class that will be very difficult to say goodbye to for many many countless reasons.

Woodbridge MCJROTC- There is NO WAY at ALL this 5k event would have occurred as smoothly as it did had it not been for the time, energy, and planning of the MCJROTC at Woodbridge.  The planning, marking, biking ahead of the pack, monitoring, supporting, setting up, tearing down, and color guard event, and MORE of their efforts – this was the key to success for this 5k – and made the difference in a dream of a full day that became a reality.  Add to this fact they made the festival easier thanks to their supervision, their support to all vendors, their presence- add to all this and you have a group that was the backbone of the festival that many do not are lucky enough to have help support them. Their Halloween 5k will be one you need to attend to see how far reaching their actions are into the community – not just a military focus but a community one that impacts our community in Delaware.

Woodbridge Select Ensemble – The ability and willingness for many of the seniors to come back AFTER graduation, and to perform for an event that was officially in their summer, this says alot about Ms Workman and her select ensemble.  When you heard them, you understood why they were an important part of the festival and words, let alone song, cannot capture how great it was that they were a part of this festival and willing to show the community what a talented group of music-talented individuals can do to add to the immediate community.

Karen Johnson and the Bridgeville Public Library- Another key librarian, (see a pattern here?) not only came to the rescue for the trophies that would become the 3d printed fours that were for the 5k, she continually offered her insight, editing, and advice regarding the organization, publicity, and festival in general – without her, much chaos, a huge lack of foresight in the festival overall, and behind the scenes support that made on the scene results fantastic.  Priceless support for this event.

Carmen Chona – With a fantastic announcing voice at the 5k, as well as dropping all to provide medical attention if needed, to helping with ice and resources for the event, having Carmen at this festival, and supporting this event before the festival – it made a HUGE difference. Having an Athletic Trainer like Carmen is priceless as was seen on this day, so imagine what she does for others all around the rest of the year!

Woodbridge Roaming Raiders, FFA, NHS – These groups individually could have a paragraph alone on their involvement and how they educate their members on being international and local ambassadors of society.  From agriculture, to culture, to horticulture, to honoring the success of academics alongside these three community categories, these groups work hard to support the endeavors they take on to open doors for others.  If you do not know much or even a little about these groups you need to do so.  Their willingness to sacrifice a day towards their goals is step one in knowing they want to further their community through the education of themselves as well as their community.  Their presence was why we need a larger attendance at festival ideas like so conversations and awareness of what they want to do, can be connected to existing members in our community.

Rebekah Harding and Angela Zamora – What these young ladies did during the school year was to bend over backwards and create a gaming community of students interested in board, card, and video games.  This lasted for months at Woodbridge High and garnered the interest of students that had not previously had an ability to rein in their outlet for talent for games of all sorts.  These ladies organized a gaming series of competitions that brought individuals to the library as a center of interacting with various games, and ultimately the drive to exceed better at grades to continue to interacts with others in the community.  Their grass roots energy will push us to incorporate a gaming aspect to the festival that will take root and in fact, grow as we strategize on how to make this an integral aspect of the festival.  Patience and replanning this initiative started by them will be an exciting addition to the art we know as gaming in so many forms. Add to this the HOURS they spent phoning individuals to attend the festival and you need to know how responsible they are for getting the word out to so many in such a short time. Despite having her wisdom teeth taken out the day before, Angela’s energy and contributions leading up to this festival, Rebekah filling in double time for Angela’s absence during her recovery the day of, these two made the festival happen for so many countless reasons.

Andrea Paun – A priceless individual who used to work with me as a volunteer at the Baltimore Aquarium, she is still there and I am not yet returned due to time constraints, her advice, and help up to the wee hours of the June 8th event made so many creative things happen.  Her materials list, her creativity, her driving from MARYLAND to come just to help prepare materials for the 5k and festival, her patience, her belief that giving is more powerful than the sacrifices she had to make, her contribution to destressing the animals at the petting zoo during the festival and even more?  It means so much more to me when you see such dear individuals in their willing to sacrifice so much for a sense of building community. I feel if someone out of the state believes this so much, then someone in our community should too, correct?

Jon Rene Holmes /Syerra Smith and Family – Without the constant help of Syerra during the day at school, the help of her sister and her mother, none of the additions that make the 5k so live, as well as the festival would have occurred.  Syerra must have contacted a hundred individuals leading up to the festival, and their connection to Mr. Moore an amazing DJ and resident of Greenwood who volunteered his services for this festival and 5k for Troy Haynes, says everything we wanted to say about how we define community.  Their behind the scenes involvement made the on the scene event happen, period.  Priceless individuals that helped before and during this event and without them nothing would occur. 

Tim Moore /Slim Street Sounds.com – The availability and willingness to give to this event and donate everything he had to the 5k, to the festival, to arriving at 5:00 AM and staying until the last person left the field.  To immediately on the spot committing to presenting students, performances, announcements, equipment and MORE – committing to it all and allowing his whole Saturday to be devoted to the community – I simply need not to say anymore ; those attending see how much of a contribution he made to make this festival feel like a festival thanks to Slim Street Sounds.

There ARE SO MANY MORE, and this took me 3 hours!

Amity, Hungry Howies, and A TON MORE made this event happen, so please stay posted for Part II coming soon to let you in on what has to happen for a festival such as this, 5k and festival both to happen thanks to those that support it.




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