Jarek Rutz Headlines, Education
The Community Education Building in downtown Wilmington, which is home to Kuumba Academy Charter School.
Kuumba Academy, a Wilmington charter school, will use a $2.4 million state grant to expand its health center and summer school program.
The school will start receiving money from the grant — called a wraparound grant because it can be used to pay for school services outside the classroom — in January.
Through the same grant, Capital’s Towne Point Elementary will be given $800,733 and Christina’s Bancroft School $708,114.56.
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The goal of the wraparound grants, according to the state Department of Education, is “to establish or expand community-learning centers that provide students with academic and non-academic opportunities as well as high-quality preventative health care and mental health assistance when schools are not in session.”
Kuumba Academy’s grant will help expand its new school-based health center that opened this year thanks to a $1.4 million Delaware Wraparound Services Initiative grant.
Those funds also helped create Kuumba’s after-school tutoring program, which has 75 students enrolled.
The Bayard School ($1,238,000) and the Bancroft School ($958,000) also received that same grant.
Being able to open a school-based health center has been a goal since the school moved into the Community Education Building in Wilmington in 2014, said Kuumba Head of School Sally Maldonado.
“We just kept hitting barriers, trying to get the center up and running,” she said, “so the wraparound grant finally made this eight-year-long dream possible.”
Kuumba’s health center includes a nurse practitioner, pediatrician, social worker, counselor, nutritionist and coordinator.
“They’re meant to help not only the student but their families as well,” Maldonado said.
Wilmington’s Community Education Building was founded in 2012 with the mission to create and build educational support systems to allow students to have equal opportunities for success. Many of the students served in the building are lower-income students.
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Kuumba’s social worker helps connect families with outside services such as rent support or resources for food.
The counselor provides students and family mental health services.
The nutritionist counsels students about how to create a healthier lifestyle.
Out of Kuumba’s 643 students, 260 have already registered with the health center since it first opened in May. That number is supposed to grow this year as more students become familiar with its services, Maldonado said.
After an additional $400,000 was granted to Kuumba at the beginning of this school year through the Delaware School Community Learning Program grant, the charter was able to bring summer programming and health center services to kindergarten and first-grade students.
“All of this was aimed at helping students catch up from all of the time out of school,” Maldonado said. “This additional grant in the fall enabled us to include 100 more students in our summer program.”
Last year, nearly half of Kuumba’s student body — 321 students — was enrolled in the charter’s six-week summer program, “which is just uniquely phenomenal to see,” she said.
Mornings in the summer program focus on traditional academics with afternoons dedicated to artspace programming.
“We’ll do 90 minutes of ELA focus, and 90 minutes with a math focus, and we focus on prioritized standards for the next grade level,” Maldonado said. “We’re catching up any gaps lingering from the prior school year and getting them ready for the next school year.”
Students get to be more creative in the afternoon.
“We’ll do some robotics classes, we’ve done lots of different dance workshops and drama workshops,” Maldonado said.
Kuumba also takes its summer students to field trips every week.
Students already are emailing teachers and administrators to make sure there’s enough room for them in the summer program, Maldonado said.
She said the grants allow for the integration of high school and college-aged support.
“Kuumba has done a great job with integrating University of Delaware students throughout the school year as tutors as well as supports for the summer,” she said.
The wraparound grants for Kuumba Academy and others were recommended by the Redding Consortium.
The Redding Consortium recommended the creation of the wraparound grant program that Kuumba Academy and others were awarded, but it was not involved in reviewing the school’s grant proposals.
The consortium, which has its own state funding, was created to study and help promote policies and practices to the governor and Delaware General Assembly to help New Castle County students achieve educational equity and improve educational outcomes.
Matt Denn, co-chair of the Redding Consortium, said that one of the consortium’s greatest achievements since it was formed in 2019 is helping fund the abundance of student and family services provided at Kuumba Academy.
Denn and his colleagues toured the health center and after-school program last week before the consortium’s regular meeting Dec. 6.
“It was an opportunity actually to see one of the consortium’s recommendations playing out and there’s a bunch of kids at Kuumba who are now getting the resources that they weren’t previously getting,” Denn said. “It was really great to see.”
Raised in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Jarek earned a B.A. in journalism and a B.A. in political science from Temple University in 2021. After running CNN’s Michael Smerconish’s YouTube channel, Jarek became a reporter for the Bucks County Herald before joining Delaware LIVE News.
Jarek can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at (215) 450-9982. Follow him on Twitter @jarekrutz
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Coach Pasani addressing the team after a victory photo by Glenn Frazer The Archmere softball team pounded out 18 hits in a 16-3 win over First State Military in Smyrna Thursday. Tori Connor pitched two innings, striking out 5 batters to get the win. She also collected 4 hits and 5 RBI’s from the “lead-off” spot. Freshman Ava Beach finished the final five innings in relief in her varsity debut to record the save. Ryan Vitola and Beach both hammered 2-run homers for the Auks. Freshman Riley Worrall hit a solo home run in the 7th for the FSMA Bulldogs. Archmere evened its overall record at 2-2 (1-1 DSAC). The Bulldogs fell to 0-2 on the season and in the Diamond State Athletic Conference. In other action Thursday, The Odessa Ducks out-slugged Newark 28-12 for the 1st win in school history. Addison Hurst collected 5 hits while teammate Riley Curtis hit 2 home runs and had 7 RBI’s. Conrad’s Bella McKee shut out William Penn 2-0, striking out 11 batters for the win. Also, DMA beat St. Elizabeth’s 15-1 as Alexandria Delcollo belted a homer for the Seahawks.
A 150-pound gingerbread recreation of the Winterthur mansion will greet guests heading out on its Yuletide tour this year. The gingerbread house, which sits on a 4-foot-by-8-foot base, was delivered Thursday by Bredenbeck’s Bakery of Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania. Its cakes have been featured on TLC and the Food Network. Diana Anello, head sugar artist for Bredenbeck’s, said she wasn’t sure how many eggs or how much flour or sugar went into the creation. “I can tell you we used 24 sheets of gingerbread which were 18 by 23,” she said. The house, which stands about 3 feet tall, features dozens of windows, as well as a beautiful rendition of a lighted conservatory, complete with a dried flower tree, just like the real house. Winterthur ordered the gingerbread mansion to pay homage to its exhibition “Jacqueline Kennedy and H.F. du Pont: From Winterthur to the White House.” It’s on show through Jan. 8, 2023. Gingerbread houses have been a part of White House holiday decor at least since Jackie was decorating there, said Jennie Brown, Winterthur’s manager of audience development. The Winterthur version will sit in the Montgomery Room off the Galleries reception. Guests heading out on the tour will have to pass it. This year’s Yuletide tour decor also is linked to the Jackie-and-Henry exhibit. Starting Saturday, Nov. 19, the tour will feature trees inspired by White House trees over the years. Jackie Kennedy created the first themed White House tree in 1961, using the Christmas ballet “The Nutcracker.” RELATED STORY: Single tickets for ‘The Book of Mormon’ on sale now Also new this year will be a toy train display presented by the Standard Gauge Module Association. It will be open from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Saturday and Sundays, as well as Wednesday evenings in December from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Anello said getting to create the house was a nice break from decorating wedding cakes. “It’s not like I don’t love wedding cakes,” she said, “but for me gingerbread is like my one-time a year passion that I get to do.” The hardest part of creating the gingerbread house, she said, was trying to map out the full scope of the building, which in real life contains 175 rooms and five stories cascading down the hill. “I recently came out here for a tour. It was incredible,” she said. “And when you’re standing here so tiny looking over this magnificent building, it’s like, ‘How do I get this all in?’ How I shrink this down and get a bite-sized version of this big cake. So for me it was I had to take each structural building piece by piece from all these different pictures, put all the puzzle pieces together and come up with the building.” After that, the most difficult part was corralling the patience she needed to pipe out the icing that defines Winterthur’s dozens of windows. The entire structure is edible, she said. “Why would we make something you couldn’t enjoy,” Anello said. It will still be edible in January, she said. Anello joked that purely for quality control, she eats one of the bakery’s gingerbread men at least every other day. “I have been known to eat gingerbread that I know was made months ago,” she said. ——————————— During the holiday season, Winterthur is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Self-guided tours are available from 10 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. Reservations are not required. Admission is $27 adults; $25 seniors and students; $8 children ages 2-11. The ticket includes a tour, the garden, a narrated garden tram tour, the Jackie-and-Henry exhibit, the Campbell Collection of Soup Toureens and other exhibits in the galleries.
Brew HaHa! debuted its latest coffee shop in Avenue North Monday, with decor designed to evoke a 1970s Upper West Side apartment in New York. The shop will be one of the new elements of Avenue North’s $300 million redevelopment of former Astra Zeneca property off U.S. 202 that aims to provide a work-play-live environment. Developers Delle Donne & Associates wanted to focus on local brands and reached out to Brew HaHa! owner Alisa Morkides to see if she was interested. “They didn’t want a Starbucks or chain,” she said. “And they basically made us an offer we couldn’t refuse.” Brew HaHa!’s local flavor Brew HaHa!’s nearby Concord Pike location needed updating, and Morkides — who has been on quite the tear upgrading her locations, particularly in Greenville and Trolley Square — loved the idea of being part of the Avenue North project. The new shop, at 1000 Renaissance Way across from Fairfax Shopping Center, will include a 4000-square-foot interior , a 1,400-square-foot three-season patio with Space Age stylings and a conference room. “We really want to focus on getting business people in,” she said. She expects people who like to take a break from working in an office or at home by working in a coffee shop also may want a space to hold meetings. Morkides likes the Avenue North space so much that she’s moving the company’s headquarters into the building. Avenue North will serve Brew HaHa!’s trademark espresso coffees, and mimic Trolley Square’s coffee, pastries and extended sandwiches menu. Greenville will remain her only full restaurant adding all-day brunch, salads and specials such as Taco Thursdays to the pastry and sandwich menus. She said she hopes to do more with wine at Trolley Square and add quiches there and at Avenue North. Morkides said she chose the mid-century theme because the property sits in the middle of a lot of subdivisions built in the 1950s and 60s. The neighborhoods are becoming more diverse and more populated by Millennials who like the modern styles popular when the homes were built. The building she moved into had been offices, so walls needed to be knocked down to create the inside space.. The final product, including indoor and outdoor fireplaces, the furnishings and even the art on the walls is meant to be reminiscent of mid-century modern. As with her other stores, she will not have a drive-through window, which she believes takes away from the ambiance and focus on the customer. Morkides enjoys setting the look of her cafes into the history and mood of the area. Her Greenville store is meant to evoke a lovely living room in a Greenville manor house, and Trolley Square is a nod to the area’s industrial history and the Brandywine River School of Art. She and her staff decorate their stores themselves. “We just love the cultural and industrial roots of Wilmington,” she said. RELATED STORY: Beach’s new Drift is relaxed, refined RELATED STORY: Falafels are having a moment in Delaware Architecture firm Bernardon helped envision the look and recommended some things like wallpaper, but Morkides and her Director of Operations Jillian Willis found all the furnishings and art themselves. They use online sites like Wayfair for furniture and rugs but also shop in stores such as Target or Bed, Bath & Beyond. “It’s all about colors and we don’t have any training in this but you just know if it’s the right color,” she said. “I must have bought 50 pillows and exchanged them or put them somewhere else because I had to find just the right pillow.” They hired local carpenters to make their tables and while some of the art was bought at auction, Morkides fell in love with the work of Wilmington artist Susan Benarcik and has several of her works up. The look is finished off with plants provided by Erica Boston of Binkley Horticulture, who also provided the plants for the Trolley and Greenville stores. “She’s amazing,” Morkides said. “She is expensive but very, very worth it.” The store will include a record player and vintage LPs that customers can play. Morkides hopes to bring in live music, too. The Avenue North shop will be light-filled, she said, because of windows that look into the patio, which will seat about 45. Strong heaters have been installed outdoors to make it usable for as much of the year as possible. Morkides worries that it may be hard for customers to find the Avenue North store. It will be marked by “now open” signs but a permanent marker will take a few more weeks to arrive and be installed. “When you drive in, there’s actually a sign to the right that says Brew HaHa!,” she said. “Hopefully people will find us.”
A state trooper has been indicted for writing warnings without stopping drivers. NOTE: This story has been updated to reflect a later statement from the Department of Justice. A Delaware state trooper was indicted on four counts for fraudulently writing warnings for motorists, some of whom he didn’t even stop. Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings said in a press release Tuesday the state didn’t know the full scale of Cpl. Edwin R. Ramirez’s misconduct and asked anyone who thought they may have been affected to get in touch with their office. The suspended officer was assigned to Troop 9 in Odesssa. The press release said he had victimized dozens of motorists in April 2021 alone. Delaware State Police leadership contacted the Department of Justice’s Division of Civil Rights & Public Trust in May 2021 after an internal review unveiled a pattern of fraudulent E-Warnings issued by Ramirez. The review began after one of his supervising officers reported discrepancies in one of Ramirez’s reports. Ramirez was immediately suspended. The ensuing investigation found that in April 2021 alone, Ramirez issued more than 30 fraudulent warnings and/or tickets without motorists being informed — and, in some cases, with no traffic stop actually occurring, according to a press release. A DOJ spokeswoman later clarified that the April misdeeds “only involved phantom warnings and that tickets issued in that month were issued with the victims’ knowledge.” While E-Warnings do not carry a financial penalty, they do harm drivers, the press release said. Drivers with E-Warnings are less likely to be given consideration in future traffic encounters with police, and more likely to be stopped in the first place. “These victims deserve an apology for getting wrapped up in this ridiculous scheme,” Jennings said in the press release. “This kind of ham-fisted misconduct undermines the work that good police officers do every day to earn and honor the public’s trust. Following the internal investigation, a DSP investigator received a search warrant for Ramirez’s police car and found a sheet kept by Ramirez displaying Troop 9’s troopers and their productivity statistics, along with his own 2019 and 2020 yearly evaluations which included commendations for traffic productivity. On Feb. 2, 2021, Ramirez was recognized as the recipient of the “2020 Troop 9 Traffic Ace” award. In a performance commendation, Ramirez’s captain noted that Ramirez issued 458 traffic citations and 640 traffic E-Warnings in 2020 alone. The state is continuing to investigate Ramirez’s potential misconduct outside of April 2021. “The accolades that this trooper misappropriated are not worth the felony charges he’s now facing,” Jennings said. “Traffic stops should be about road safety, not padding performance reviews, and we’re grateful to DSP for doing the right thing as soon as they uncovered the criminal activity.” Ramirez now faces charges of tampering with public records in the first degree (class E felony), issuing a false certificate (class G felony), falsifying business records (class A misdemeanor), and official misconduct (class A misdemeanor). If convicted on all charges, Ramirez faces a statutory maximum sentence of 9 years in prison. “The Delaware State Police values our relationship with the public and as demonstrated in the case, have policies in place to evaluate and investigate all incidents of misconduct,” said Delaware State Police Superintendent Col. Melissa Zebley in the press release. “We are an organization that recognizes while fulfilling our sacred mission to protect and serve the public, we must also hold our own members accountable for any actions that jeopardize public trust.” Anyone who feels they may have been affected Ramirez’s actions may email the Division of Civil Rights & Public Trust at [email protected] or contact the Delaware State Police via DSP’s Customer Satisfaction Survey.
Over the course of the pandemic, enrollment in Delaware charter schools increased 5.10%, while traditional public schools’ student body dropped 1.14%. That’s according to a report published in November by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. It found that traditional public schools lost students in nearly every state. The First State’s traditional public schools lost 1,423 students from 2019 to 2022, according to the report. “We weren’t surprised to see that,” said Kendall Massett, executive director of the Delaware Charter Schools Network. Delaware charters generally are limited to a specific number of students when the state approves them. During the past three years, Massett pointed out, several charter schools in the state, such as Odyssey and Newark charters, were granted expansions. “Those charters had already had a waitlist, and that never went away, so they gained students once their expansion request was granted,” she said. In fall 2020, another charter, Sussex Montessori School, opened its doors, which Massett said led to additional students leaving district schools for the charter alternative. Not all charter schools are so lucky. Great Oaks Charter School, which has a lot of underprivileged students, saw its enrollment drop for many reasons and is now waiting for the state to say whether it will have to close. Every year of the pandemic, Delaware’s charter school enrollment has gone up. There are 18,223 students who go to charters, a little over 12% of the public school population, according to Massett. But Massett doesn’t believe charter schools are the main actors in attracting students away from traditional public schools. “We also saw private school numbers go up, and homeschool numbers go up,” she said, citing enrollment spikes in Saint Mark’s High School and Wilmington Friends School. Saint Mark’s recently announced an $8 million capital fundraising campaign as part of their efforts to expand. It came just months after Newark Charter completed its 21-year expansion by unveiling its $20 million junior high school. Right now, Odyssey Charter School has a $2 million capital campaign. “Let me be clear, parents choosing to put their children in whatever school environment they choose to do is their right,” Massett said. “I also believe that we have to do better as a state in terms of getting information about schools, charter or not, to the community.” Delaware’s Department of Education did not immediately respond to a request for comment. RELATED: Newark Charter completes 21-year expansion RELATED: eSports, virtual reality among St. Mark’s ‘Renewing’ goals
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