Delaware Met Leaders: School is Open with Clear Plan for Success

The following statement is by the Delaware Met School Board of Directors Executive Committee: Nash Childs, Board Chair; Ryan Harrington, Vice-Chair; Andy Podolsky, Treasurer; and Adriane Anderson Strange, Secretary.

Opening a school is an exciting and challenging time. There are very few times in the life cycle of a school when it is so fragile. The Delaware Met is no exception to this excitement or these challenges. Our “Big Picture” educational model is student focused and requires a high level of student involvement. Small disruptions have the ability to cause major concerns.


After the excitement of our recent Ribbon Cutting, we found ourselves in the midst of a challenge. It became clear to our board that, as our school leader transitioned to maternity leave, we needed to take the time to reassess structures and processes in the school that would maintain the positive culture and climate required for student success. With the blessing of the Department of Education, we chose to give our teachers professional development time last week to assess these needs and make adjustment.

As this process was unfolding, we contacted families and let them know how excited we were to see their children on Monday. At the same time, we began to be made aware of whispers in our community and beyond that the school had already chosen to close. To answer these rumors, it was important for the Board to hold a special meeting. There, we could address the matter of the school’s culture alongside the new financial outlook for the remainder of the school year in a public setting.

We are excited that these questions were addressed appropriately and with rigor during our board meeting. We are confident in the plans laid out to us by our interim school leadership and staff and are even more confident in our financial viability. Like any school, we will certainly encounter more challenges as we continue our journey to achieve new pathways for our students to learn, but we are looking forward to solving them and to continue growing. It takes a community to build a school and so we hope that you will join us on our journey. Our students deserve our shared commitment.

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4 Comments

  • I began my career in 1978 at A.I DuPont High School- the first year of court ordered busing. I plan to retire in 3-5 years at the Delaware Met. It is my dream to work at a High School located in 19801 where I can interact with a diverse population of students from all over New Castle County but sit outside at 3:30 PM and watch as dozens of High School Children walk home.

    I walked 1.5 miles home from Western High School in Baltimore everyday for 4 years and still remember the ritual of stopping at the corner store. Today I watched 7 kids leave school, walk to the Brown Bag for a snack, and then walk up the hill chatting.

    I am proud to be a founding member of the staff supporting the Special Education Students of the Delaware Met. I jumped at the opportunity to leave my position of 5 Years as Special Education Teacher at Howard R. Young (Gander Hill Prison) not just because of the beautiful MBNA Building and the windows- but because I believed in the Big Picture Model, the incredible staff at ISDC and our leader Tricia Hunter.

    I was a founding member of Thomas Edison Charter School and as my husband reminded me- we had a few weeks until we settled in and eventually became a Superior School in 2006-2007 and won several Super Star Awards.

    He has reminded me that Charter Start-ups are like Baseball- there are 9 innings. We are just finishing the first inning- not without a few foul balls but we are on a path to win this game and celebrate the opportunity for kids to attend school in their community.

    Everyone on Town Square- please join in the effort to contribute to the solution to allow children who have been impacted by our violent city to enjoy the safety and security of attending a school where they are truly valued as individuals and can work productively to improve what it feels like to “live in 19801” and tune out the negative “vibe” from community members and bloggers that are intent on making our efforts more challenging.

    Every person with no exceptions that has their hands involved in this project is truly committed to solving problems and is willing to work hard.

    We do not need unproductive conversations to create noise around a truly productive and potential solution to the bigger issues in our town.

  • One day several years ago, I invited Skip from WSFS to walk around Gander Hill with me and talk to the student inmates in Education.

    I thought they had a lot of good information about how to improve education. I joked with him that I was going to secretly introduce him to some of the kids that had robbed his bank. If you know Skip, he did not think I was very funny.

    I did however learn more from the inmates in Education at Gander Hill than in many of the classes I attended for School Leadership etc. including the Graduate Program for Urban School Leaders at Harvard. I learned about curriculum at UD and WU during regular course work with grades and certificate programs at Harvard and Columbia.

    What I learned at Gander Hill was how the most challenges students viewed their experiences in school.

    It was sad but I learned so many things when some of the kids that I had remembered from Edison ended up with me at Gander.

    One kid had been tossed out of math in 1st grade at Edison and he helped me clean my car to count the money we had on the floor of my car and then we went over to the Shiva Market on the corner of Governor Printz and Vandeaver Ave and he mastered a performance based assessment- he could count my change to $.35 and keep the $.15 change from the two quarters.

    I tried to explain to his well intentioned teacher that he was not going to count money by coloring in a stupid coloring workbook page- he wanted to count real money. Duh!

    Many years later-he sat for me for days and explained his profit margins for buying guns wholesale in New York and selling them retail in our city. He apologized to me for having committed more than one violent crime- but he did admit that math was still a challenge for him in school but not on a street.

    How can you walk away from those conversations without being deeply impacted.

    Often I would assess new inmates under 18 and ask them to write a few sentences about “what worked” for them in school and “what did not work.” I did this with almost a thousand students under 21 ( still eligible for Special Ed until August of their 21st Birthday- so some were near 16 on the dot and some were near 22).

    Most of the information I gathered painted a very similar picture.

    They were labeled a failure by about grade 3- because they were not able to perform the tasks required in school. All of the Special Ed kids in Gander were entitled to an IEP if they were previously identified as a Student with a Disability and had not passed their 21st birthday.

    Some kids would holler over the railing in the big central area ” Ogden, can you make me Special Ed so I can come to school?”

    We had a nice team approach to making sure they had valid IEP’s and could feel connected to the education program they had left. I even got to stand up in solitary ( no seats) (the hole) with the principal and teacher to hold meetings.

    I studied a variety of “models” and approaches to education prior to coming to the prison. I visited every high poverty charter that had over 75% proficiency from here to Rhode Island. I worked for a Kipp School in North Phiily for awhile.

    I even had a “once in a life time” chance to work on a small team of 8 people with the famous education “think tank” John Chubb and the former President of Yale, Benno Schmidt trying to translate what worked in the successful Edison Schools in this country (ours was Superior) and translate the top non-negotiables for a group of Principals in primary schools in the Desert of Abu Dhabi.

    Despite the 145 degree heat, I was soaking up everything John had to say when he drove us to work in his white Toyota every day for almost 30 days. John Chubb is still considered one of the top education minds in our country and I was honored to be on his small Gulf Region team.

    Taking into account a lifetime of education starting in the 70’s and ending up in the desert of Abu Dhabi- I still say the Grand Conversations I had at Gander taught me the most.

    The guys taught me that school had to be individualized relevant and it had to start with a relationship of trust and respect. The guys taught me the ins and outs of all the “gang like” groups that are more like squads and I taught them that colors and conflict are not unique to them.

    My people, the Scots, started the idea of gang colors when we created Tartans. They talked about beefing on the corner- and I taught them about the Battle of Glencoe. We talked, we taught, we laughed and most of all they prepared me for meaningful work at the Met as the appropriate last leg of my career.