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October 11, 2022 - In the spring of 2022, Caroline was awarded a Maryland Leads grant from the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE). Maryland Leads is a grant initiative designed to support school systems in utilizing federal funds to overcome learning loss resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, accelerate student learning to narrow opportunity and achievement gaps, and provide more targeted support for historically underserved students and their communities. Maryland Leads also supports districts in addressing short and long-term challenges related to the current labor shortage and attends to the longstanding need to establish and strengthen teacher pipelines and development.

The grant initiative is centered around seven focus areas that have been proven to be effective and transformative for schools and school systems. In the grant proposal, Caroline applied for funding in four of the focus areas. In each of these areas, specific strategies have been outlined:

 Grow Your Own:

  • Establish a year-long paid residency program for specific professional support staff (social workers, speech pathologist, etc.).
    • In particular, school psychology interns & speech pathologists in their clinicals
  • Enable teaching assistants to become teachers
    • Partner with higher education for support staff to become teachers, or to earn advanced credentials such as an AA or CDA certificate
  • Design opportunities to build pipelines for hard-to-fill areas such as math, science, SPED, bilingual, CTE, etc.
  • Enhance the Aspiring Leaders program to include more opportunities for administrative experience and a stipend for completion of the program
  • Enhance the current Teacher Academy of Maryland program to provide more opportunities in the schools, provide mentorship etc.

Staff Support and Retention

  • Pay retention incentives for key groups of staff in school years 2021-22 and 2022-23. Exploring this possibility within the grant, and parameters.
  • Establish programs to support employee's health and wellness.
    • Establish a wellness program and expand partnerships for employee engagement
  • Redesign induction experiences for early career teachers.
    • Expand and enhance supports for teachers early in their career
  • Launch a cohort model to support teachers in obtaining National Board Certification.
    • In preparation for Blueprint, create a support network for teachers working toward NBC.

 Science of Reading

  • Contract with a service provider to provide training directly to all K-5teachers, including special education teachers, principals, and other relevant staff or to a cadre of LEA staff who can provide training to other staff through a trainer-of-trainer model.
    • Include PD stipends, substitute costs, and supplies and materials.
  • Identify and implement high-quality, content-rich instructional materials and assessment tools aligned to the science of reading.
    • Expand access to online decodables beyond those allocated in ARP.
  • Create systems for progress monitoring to ensure all students are reading by the end of third grade and have the appropriate supports if still struggling with reading beyond third grade. This includes the use of universal screeners as required by Maryland’s Ready to Read Act.

Reimagining the Use of Time

  • Restructure the schedule to allow for more occurrences of tutoring, mentorship, service learning, career and college exploration, or social-emotional supports.
    • Partner with a service provider to evaluate current scheduling at all levels, to determine the most effective schedule.
    • Develop out of ‘typical’ school time schedules that support additional time to pursue individual interests and academic achievement.
    • Support innovative school scheduling to pilot a ninth grade academy model to strengthen the transition from middle to high school.

In support of the initiatives, Caroline has partnered with several vendors, including:

●      Trax Method to support and enhance new teacher induction

●      FourPoint to assist with out of school time

●      Research Triangle Institute to analyzing school day schedules

●      BARR to support and enhance the 9th Grade Academy

●      Lexia Learning for staff development

●      YMCA of the Chesapeake for staff wellness

●      Chesapeake College for paths to certification for support staff and teaching candidates

 Caroline, with the assistance of our partners, will shortly begin the process of gathering insight and input from stakeholder groups through the use of surveys and meetings. More information will be shared as this important work progresses.