(Aug. 29, 2014) Officials from the Maryland State Department of Education traveled here Tuesday for a surprise announcement, awarding Worcester County Public Schools a $1 million grant to help increase academic achievement for students with disabilities.
State officials made the announcement at Pocomoke High School, where MSDE representatives were providing professional development for Worcester County’s special education personnel.
This school system is the sole recipient of the 2014 Bridges for Systems Change grant, for which seven school systems applied.
“The goal is to eliminate the existing gap between students with disabilities and their non-disabled peers,” said Rae Record, Worcester County’s Supervisor of Special Education.
Worcester’s team of a dozen grant writers met multiple times each week for about a month to draft the grant, said Jennifer Dale, Coordinator of Instruction for Special Education at Worcester schools.
Different team members — parents, special education teachers, general education teachers and administrators — tackled different pieces, from researched-based processes for implementing plans to the budget needed for them.
“We researched, gathered data, developed a budget and focused on innovative practices that could improve services and outcomes for students with disabilities,” Dale said.
Marcella Franczkowski, Assistant State Superintendent for the Division of Special Education and Early Intervention Services, presented the award Tuesday and said the grant was “phenomenally well-written.”
But more than that, “they used their data to drive the work,” she said.
Paul Dunford, chief of the MSDE’s Division of Programmatic Support and Technical Assistance, agreed the grant was “thoroughly researched.”
Worcester County will form its leadership team to work on the $1 million project within the week, Dale said.
“We are immensely proud that a committee of educators sought this grant,” Worcester County Superintendent Dr. Jerry Wilson said. “Their commitment and hard-work will greatly benefit the children of Worcester County.”