U.S. Senator Chris Coons of Delaware

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  • Senator Coons honors Delaware Teacher of the Year

    Last week, Senator Coons congratulated John Sell for earning the title of Delaware Teacher of the Year. Mr. Sell teaches English at Sussex Tech High School in Georgetown, where he is known for his innovative teaching techniques, such as singing poetry to his students.

    As the son and grandson of classroom teachers, Chris is committed to strengthening education in Delaware and supporting our extraordinary teachers like Mr. Sell.  He joined the Delaware Teacher of the Year Awards Dinner to share his personal appreciation with all of this year’s finalists, selected from 9,000 Delaware public school teachers to represent each of the state’s 19 school districts.

    At the awards dinner, Chris said “Tonight, we honor and appreciate all of our teachers, and we also recognize 19 in particular who have gone above and beyond. As nominees for Delaware’s Teacher of the Year, you have shown exceptional dedication and commitment to your students, as well as the ability to inspire the kind of love learning that lasts a lifetime.”

    To read more about Chris’ work on education, click here.

  • Celebrating National Teacher Day

    All of us can remember teachers who made a difference in our lives. Great teachers can encourage students to reach for their dreams and succeed in school. As we recognize National Teacher Day on May 8, we pause to thank the dedicated teachers in Delaware and across the nation who work tirelessly to educate their students.

    Delaware is full of teachers who are working to ensure that the next generation of Delawareans have the resources they need to succeed. Senator Coons has made it a priority to visit a number of schools in Delaware. In particular, Chris had the pleasure of visiting Delaware Teacher of the Year Amber Augustus’ middle school class at John Bassett Moore (JBM) Intermediate School in Smyrna. Amber is a fifth grade math, science, and social studies teacher who is in her seventh year at JBM. During the visit, Chris toured the school and met with students, teacher, and administrators to discuss best practices.  

    Chris has been an outspoken advocate for education reform. In March, he introduced legislation to help increase the number of low-income students able to access and complete a college education. The American Dream Accounts Act of 2012 encourages partnerships among schools, colleges, non-profits and businesses to develop secure, Web-based student accounts that contain information about academic preparedness, financial literacy and high-impact mentoring and would be tied to a college savings account.

    Click here to learn more about National Teacher Day

    Click here to learn more about Chris’ work to improve education in Delaware.

    American Dream Accounts
  • Senator Coons speaks with students at Howard High School of Technology about STEM education

    In celebration of Teach For America Week, Senator Chris Coons served as a guest teacher on Thursday at Howard High School of Technology in Wilmington. Leading the Advanced Biology class normally taught by TFA science teacher Ashley Sorenson, Senator Coons spoke with juniors and seniors about the value of education and encouraged the students to pursue a career in the sciences.

    “The 21st century economy is taking root in science and technology, and if we want to make our economy stronger and our nation more competitive, we have to give students the skills they need to succeed in STEM fields,” Senator Coons said about the experience. “It’s imperative that our children have positive role models to reinforce the importance of education and encourage them to pursue higher education, and that is what young Teach For America educators do.”

    Since its launch in 1997, Teach For America Week has brought hundreds of distinguished guest teachers from across America into our nation’s schools to inspire students and raise awareness about the challenges facing students in low-income communities and demonstrate that when students are given the educational opportunities they deserve, they reach their highest potential.

  • Senator Coons introduces bill to help expand college access for at-risk students

    Senator Chris Coons introduced legislation today to help increase the number of low-income students able to access and complete a college education.

    The American Dream Accounts Act of 2012 encourages partnerships among schools, colleges, non-profits and businesses to develop secure, Web-based student accounts that contain information about academic preparedness, financial literacy and high-impact mentoring and would be tied to a college savings account.

    Instead of approaching these threads independently, this bill connects students, parents and teachers across silos, and takes a small but significant step toward helping more at-risk students of all income levels access, afford and complete a college education. A detailed background document is available here.

    “One of the lessons we’ve learned from the recent recession is that unemployment has remained very low among those with a college degree,” Senator Coons said. “Now more than ever, amid intensifying global competition and rapidly changing technology, it’s critical that young people not only finish high school, but pursue some kind of education after high school. American Dream Accounts are a way to strengthen the ability of teachers, parents, mentors, and students to work together to make sure that young people, throughout their entire education experience, prepare for, save for, train for, and then fulfill a vision for their own future — a dream for their life after high school.”

    Senator Coons’ legislation is cosponsored by Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representative Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.) will introduce the American Dream Accounts Act in the House of Representatives on Monday.

    Sixty-seven percent of Delaware high school students graduate, but the rate drops dramatically in minority communities, with only 57 percent of Hispanic students and 59 percent of African American students earning a high school diploma. American Dream Accounts can help close that gap by giving students motivation and support early on, including the knowledge that scholarships, Pell and SEED grants will be there to support them after high school.

    “This concept was inspired by my own experience working with the ‘I Have a Dream Foundation,’ both running a local chapter in Wilmington and, later, working with the national organization,” Senator Coons said. “That organization made a profound impact on low-income children who had family experiences where there was no expectation of college.”

    Last month, Senator Coons convened two roundtable meetings of key experts and education leaders in Delaware and Washington in order to get feedback on the American Dream Accounts concept and explore ideas for strengthening the legislation.  He is eager for additional feedback from Delaware parents, students, teachers and other stakeholders. Please click here to share your thoughts directly with Senator Coons.

    American Dream Accounts
  • Senator Coons is inspired at Sussex County Science Fair

    Science Fair

    Senator Coons went back to his roots as a chemistry major at the 20th annual Sussex County Science Fair on Monday. Chris was blown away by the work of the middle and high school participants whose projects covered a wide spectrum of scientific studies. He also took the opportunity to meet with and thank science teachers who encouraged students to participate.

    “Teachers who go the extra mile, teachers who inspire kids to use what they’re learning in the classroom and apply it to everyday life--those are the educators who motivate students to follow their dreams and to go on to do great things,” said Chris.

    The fair provided students with the opportunity to be recognized by the community for their curiosity and achievements in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) academics. Since arriving in the Senate, Chris has worked hard to promote STEM education.

    “An education rooted in STEM gives students a leg up when it comes to finding good quality jobs,” he said.

    Chris also spoke with Priyen Patel and his sister, Bansri, students at Sussex Technical High School in Georgetown who he previously met last year in Washington when they were on Capitol Hill for the international BioGENEius competition.

    At the fair, Chris recognized all the hard work students, educators, judges, sponsors and volunteers like Helen Gieske put in to make this important event a reality for the 20th straight year. He also congratulated all of the winners:

    Sussex County BioGENEius Winners             

    Priyen Patel, Sussex Tech            

    Bansri Patel, Sussex Tech             

    Gopika Lakshmanan, Indian River            

    Melissa Schoonfield, Sussex Central                                       

    William McCabe, Indian River                    

    Sussex County Science Fair Winners            

    Grade 7                               

    First Place: Cohen Davis, Sussex Academy

    Second Place: Golden Fees, Sussex Academy

    Third Place: Brooke Ward, Sussex Academy

    Honorable Mention: Colleen Anderson, Sussex Academy

    Honorable Mention: Gabrielle Hastings, Sussex Academy

    Honorable Mention: Griffin McCormick, Sussex Academy

    Grade 8                               

    First Place: Ricky Brokaw, Sussex Academy

    Second Place: Ashe Hebrank-Ekas, Beacon Middle

    Third Place: Grace Brokaw, Sussex Academy

    Honorable Mention: Tobias Ferl, Sussex Academy

    Honorable Mention: Nicholas Conrad, Beacon Middle

    Grade 9                               

    First Place: Melissa Schoonfield, Sussex Central

    Second Place: Alison Jennings, Indian River

    Third Place: John Douglass Messick, Sussex Central

    Honorable Mention: Tiffany Raeuber, Sussex Central

    Honorable Mention: Jack Saxton, Indian River

    Grade 10                             

    First Place: Bansri Patel, Sussex Tech

    Second Place: Sid Miller, Cape Henlopen

    Third Place: Merrick Kovatch, Indian River

    Honorable Mention: Jennifer Peasnall, Sussex Central

    Honorable Mention: Mason Chambers, Sussex Central

    Honorable Mention: Chelsea Shanahan, Indian River

    Grade 11                             

    First Place: Caroline Maahs, Sussex Central

    Second Place: Priyen Patel, Sussex Tech

    Third Place: Trevor Aldred, Cape Henlopen

    Honorable Mention: Kristin Kneller, Indian River

    Grade 12                             

    First Place: Sara Westhafer, Indian River

    Second Place: Amber Pearce, Sussex Central

    Sussex County
  • Chris congratulates Delaware's Teacher of the Year

    Senator Coons visit Delaware Teacher of the Year Amber Augustus

    SMYRNA — Senator Coons visited John Bassett Moore Intermediate School today to congratulate fifth-grade teacher Amber Augustus on being named Delaware Teacher of the Year. 

    He presented her a copy of a statement he entered into the Congressional Record honoring the achievement and took questions from students.

    Senator Coons visits John Bassett Moore Intermediate School in Smyrna

  • In online chat, Chris says teachers deserve a seat at the table in discussion of education reform

    Senator Coons listens to a question during a live online chat with teachers

    Senator Coons teamed up with the Hope Street Group on Wednesday for a live online chat with educators from across Delaware to explore the next steps in education reform.

    “While not a member of the Senate committee that specifically deals with amending the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, I’ve done my level best since being sworn in to be actively engaged in cosponsoring, introducing, and supporting pieces of legislation that help strengthen our teachers’ ability to properly educate our children,” Chris said during the chat. “It’s imperative that our teachers have a seat at the table, are respected, and are full participants in the development of the curricular standards and testing modalities that will be used to prepare our children to succeed in a global workforce.”

    Wednesday was World Teachers’ Day, which is celebrated in more than 100 countries and commemorates the 1966 signing of the UNESCO/ILO Recommendation Concerning the Status of Teachers.

    In the weeks leading up to the webinar, which was live-streamed from the Senator’s Washington office, Delaware educators were encouraged to submit and vote for questions about education reform they wanted Chris to answer. Teachers could submit additional questions in real-time online during the 45-minute-long conversation. Much of the discussion was centered on reforming the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, commonly known as No Child Left Behind.

    “My hope is that we can work to fix the challenges No Child Left Behind has left behind for teachers to deal with every day,” Chris told participants.

    A longtime advocate of aggressive education reform and college completion, Chris is a member of a group of moderate, reform-minded Democratic senators who have put forth an innovative vision for education that sets a high bar for all students, and attracts and supports the most talented teachers and leaders in our schools.  

    Education Reform
    Elementary and Secondary Education Act
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