Teachers complete research projects over summer break

MILFORD — For some, summertime means soaking in the sun before they find themselves behind a desk again in the fall. For others, it presents an opportunity for additional study.

The Educators as Catalyst program with the Delaware Department of Education can now claim several Milford High School alumni and faculty as summer fellows, including MHS 2002 graduate Lindsay Luzier and her former history teacher Kevin Dicostanzo. Special to The Chronicle

The Educators as Catalyst program with the Delaware Department of Education can now claim several Milford High School alumni and faculty as summer fellows, including MHS 2002 graduate Lindsay Luzier and her former history teacher Kevin Dicostanzo. Special to The Chronicle

Lindsay Luzier, for example, has spent several weeks as a summer fellow with the Delaware Department of Education along with 30 other future and current educators from around the state.

A 2002 Milford Senior High School graduate herself, Ms. Luzier said she is enjoying working closely with other professionals including her former history teacher from the high school, Kevin Dicostanzo.

The department hosts two summer fellowship programs, the Delaware Future Educators Leadership Program and Educators as Catalyst, along with the national-led Education Pioneers program.

Ms. Luzier, who will be a third grade teacher at Greenwood Mennonite School in the fall after a short break from teaching, and Mr. Dicostanzo are both in the Educators as Catalyst program which gives participants the opportunity to gain hands on experience in education policy.

Throughout the process, the two have been under the mentorship of Chris Kenton, a former Milford School District teacher who now works as the executive director of the Professional Standards Board with the Delaware Department of Education.

He is also another of Ms. Luzier’s former teachers.

“It is an honor to have been chosen to work amongst Milford greats. I have learned a lot in the short time in Dover and look forward to putting what I’ve learned into practice,” she said of the experience.

Both educators say they have put in countless hours preparing individual research projects, along with their peers, to be considered by the Department of Education for statewide policies in the future.

Ms. Luzier’s project looks at the certification requirements for school-based library media specialists and computer science related graduation requirements for students.

Similarly, Mr. Dicostanzo, who still teaches history at Milford High School was tasked with researching the hiring requirements for upper level administration positions.

“The idea is: let’s see what we do compared to everybody else. It’s just about where do we fall in the trend,” he said of his project.

He researched all 50 states and Washington, D.C. to discover the types of tests, education, years of teaching and alternate routes of experience were required for those positions.

“We’re working with the professional standards board. They’re the ones who will make the final decisions,” he added. “Obviously when you are working at this level, you want to produce something of quality.”

Those involved in the program were also offered weekly sessions promoting leadership development, including a speaker series with a variety of Delaware leaders.

“It’s been kind of enjoyable. You’re getting to meet people who make education policy for Delaware,” Mr. Dicostanzo said.

Secretary of Education Steve Godowsky expressed similar sentiments in a press release.

“I am excited to have the fellows working with us this summer. They bring deep and diverse backgrounds in education as well as other fields that will help inform and shape our work,” he said.

“Having the expertise of current college students, recent graduates and current educators will contribute to a broader perspective that will strengthen our policy decisions.”

The experience has been ‘surreal’ for Ms. Luzier as she worked side-by-side as peers with her high school teachers.

Participants in any of the three fellowships overseen by the department are offered a stipend of $2,000-3,000 at the completion of the program.

Jennifer Antonik can be reached at mc@newszap.com

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