Urgo's Open Letter to College

The Point News:

The Board of Trustees has approved a four percent increase to tuition rates for next year. The discussion on the increase was lively, with substantial and thoughtful input from students, faculty, and staff. In the end, the trustees continued to hold to the key aspects of our mission: balancing access and affordability with a rigorous academic program.

Our operating budget totals about $70 million; over $34 million pays salaries and benefits for about 420 faculty and staff, over $6 million to scholarships and financial aid, and about $27 million pays for ongoing programmatic and operational expenses. A major portion of our budget funds the mundane articles that support everyday College life—things such as maintaining our facilities, paying for utilities, and covering rising employee benefit charges. In a typical year, routine repairs and increases in these areas exceed $1 million.

We’re in the fifth year of the global recession and there are signs of slow improvement. Several sources of revenue, such as interest earnings on our endowment, are beginning to recover but not at a pace that meets all of our budget challenges. The state continues to provide support, but the rate of growth is slower than in past years. College leadership must prioritize what is most important as the economy slowly recovers. The direction supported by our students, staff, faculty, and trustees is remarkably consistent. First, we want to prepare our budget so that it pays the faculty and staff fairly for their good work. The trustees were clear that we should, at our first opportunity, provide salary increases to those members of our community who are paid the least and those who have not had increases for three years. We have a plan to budget for those increases. While we remain under a wage freeze, we are ready for when the thaw begins. We also know that the Governor’s proposal would increase wages by two percent for all employees on January 1, 2013. That’s an important first step and we look forward to moving beyond the base when we are able to do so. Second, we must continue to support the rigor of the academic program. After attempting to include new faculty positions in the budget for four years, but failing to fund them, the budget that will be submitted to the trustees in April, will propose two new faculty lines. Third, we will continue to fund the financial aid budget and include allowance for shortfalls in endowment income. And, of course, we’ll continue to actively encourage philanthropy that supports student scholarships, particularly in support of students with financial need.

The Board will be asked to approve next year’s budget at its May meeting. My goal is to bring a budget that supports St. Mary’s College and its educational mission. I want to thank the members of the community who have spoken with me to articulate their budget priorities. I also thank Tom Botzman for his public presentations of the budget, and for maintaining an open process as we plan for next year’s expenses.

 

Joseph R. Urgo

President

Food Consultation a Successful First Step

On March 1, students were invited to several focus groups, one for first years and sophomores and one for juniors and seniors, to discuss the food services on campus with representatives from a food services consultant. In an all-student email, Associate Dean of Students and Director of Residence Life Joanne Goldwater said, “The college has engaged the services of a food services consultant, Porter Khouw, to help us envision what our food services facilities, operations, and board plans should like in the future.” The consultations are part of a 10 to 15 year master plan for the future of the campus.

The focus groups, held in Campus Center 228, were well-attended by students from all years. The session began with noting the positive aspects of Bon Appetit’s service, such as the effort to provide a variety of dishes and the recent experimentation with food composting. However, the majority of the session was a discussion of the flaws of the campus dining experience. The biggest issue was the lack of variety for vegetarian and vegan students. The vegetarian section of the dining hall reportedly is very small and does not offer an adequate or healthy selection for vegetarians and vegans. As one student put it, “Anyone who isn’t an omnivore gets the incredibly short end of the stick.”

Other large concerns from students were the short and inconvenient Great Room hours, the lack of health benefits of the food at the Great Room and The Pub, the poor quality and variety of food on the weekends, and the “ridiculous” blocks-to-dollars ratio. The students all agreed that an extension of the hours would drastically improve the dining experience at St. Mary’s, and another alternative location to get food, such as the River Center, would be more convenient for all.

Overall, students in attendance thought the event was a helpful outreach effort by the College. “In the sense that it represents the start of a process that will hopefully lead to long-term improvement, I would say that this was an excellent first step,” said first-year Jonathan Holtzman.

This open forum was merely one part of a grand vision for the future of the college. “It’s an opportune time to do this assessment,” said Chip Jackson, Associate Vice President for Planning and Facilities. “Bon Appetit…runs on five year contracts… Next fall, we will be beginning the solicitation for any food service operator to compete for the next five year contract. Doing this kind of assessment now is useful as we go into the next step…it’s a lot easier to make certain choices come true at the end of a contract period.”

The food service evaluation is one facet of the 10-15 year master plan in motion for the College, just at the beginning stages this March. “We’re doing an overall campus master plan which [deals with] facilities issues in general and then as subsets of that, there is a series of special studies that kind of act as feed-ins to help educate the process. One of them is food service master planning as a special study,” said Luke Mowbray, Facilities Planner and Sustainability Coordinator for the College.

“We are examining food services on campus from a variety of different perspectives, one being location, type, and orientation and design of facilities, the other being meal plan structures, so blocks versus flex and how that works for students….also customer satisfaction with the food options,” said Mowbray.

Leslie Urgo Advocates for a Beautiful Campus with the Arboretum Society

This past month, the St. Mary’s Arboretum Association sent a campus-wide email asking students, faculty, and staff what they would like to see in terms of Arboretum projects in the future.

The Association decided to conduct this survey because they want the entire campus to have a say in the types of projects they will be taking on in the future. “We want the arboretum to be responsive to everyone in the campus community, students, staff, faculty, alumni, and neighbors—everyone! We thought that now, just as we’re getting seriously under way, would be the best time to see what kinds of new plantings the community was interested in,” said Professor of Biology William Williams. The questionnaire generated 29 returns, seven from faculty, five from staff, 15 from students, one from Historic St. Mary’s City, and one from an unidentified source.

The questions asked were generated by the collections and acquisitions committee of the Arboretum. This subcommittee consisted of Williams, Professor of Biology; Holly Gorton, Curator of the National Arboretum Herb Garden; and Christine Moore, a St. Mary’s alumna. According to Williams, the groups created a draft of the questionnaire which they then sent to be approved by the Arboretum Committee as a whole.

Leslie Urgo, a volunteer and committee member of Arboretum, stated that a majority of the responses received from the questionnaire were positive; however, one response that was received from an unknown responder suggested that the committee “spend the goddamn money on scholarships for smart people…” A student also suggested that the Arboretum was a waste of funds for the school. “These are separate pools of money [scholarship funds vs. Arboretum funds]. All we are trying to do is spend that [Arboretum fund] money as smart and as inclusive for students, faculty, and staff as possible,” said Urgo in response to these criticisms.

As for the suggestions that were received, many of them are initiatives that are either already on campus or planned by the society in the upcoming year. Some of these suggestions were to plant hybridized American chestnut trees which is planned for Fall 2012, plant edibles for students to “snag,” i.e. apple trees, which is in process this Spring. While all of the suggestions were helpful and appreciated, according to L. Urgo not all of them were practical given the practices of the Arboretum. She stated that the Arboretum wants to show the beauty of the St. Mary’s campus without using invasive plant species and while still being cognizant of the river. “We have to be really good stewards of this Earth…we won’t plant anything that requires pesticides or spraying,” said L. Urgo.

With the creation and expansion of the Arboretum, L. Urgo is glad to have the help of the grounds-keeping staff and their expertise. “To me it’s very exciting. One thing I love about this is our grounds department and power plant. They are kind of our unsung heroes in all of this,” said L. Urgo. Not only have these staff members been planting and up-keeping the current projects, they have also attended events held by the Arboretum.

For students who wish to get involved in the workings of the Arboretum, the committee is always looking to sponsor student projects like they have with senior Jessica Ditillo’s healing garden and the Eco House project being set up this spring. There will be committee seats for students opening up this upcoming fall and those interested should contact Leslie Urgo.

Upcoming Events held by the society are as follows: March 28 there will be a planting in front of Alumni House, April 4 edible plants will be planted in the Daugherty Palmer Commons area, and May 3 there will be a native plant workshop held in the library.

Mini Golf in the Library to Benefit Class of 2013

On Friday, March 2, the library was temporarily transformed into a mini golf course as the junior class hosted a tournament open to the St. Mary’s community.

With construction paper for greens, book ends and chairs for obstacle courses, and half red solo cups for holes, junior class officers President Joanna Purich, Treasurer Nithin George, and Historian Katie Morgan organized the event that took place from 3 to 5 p.m.

The course began on the first floor, with a practice hole in the lobby, and the first two holes of the 12-hole course wound through the references and periodicals.  The remaining, more challenging holes meandered through the second floor stacks and cubicles, and other students doing work.  The final clever putt was laid out after teams rode the elevator to the third floor.

Purich explained that the mini golf tournament has become a St. Mary’s tradition that has been passing through class executive boards over the past years since 2008. Purich also organized the event last year.

“We had a lot bigger turnout last year,” explained Purich, who blamed the lower turnout of this year’s attendance to a combination of the rainy weather of the afternoon, the ski trip that had left that day, and many students leaving campus for the weekend.  “We lost a few faculty teams this year that also come out,” she said.

Overall, four teams came out and competed in the event with The Wombats, a student team consisting of seniors Anna Davis, Steve Rees, Don Rees, Ariel Webster, and Lauren Nelson coming away with the tournament win and a 25 dollar gift card to Outback Steakhouse.  Second and third place winners also received gift cards to Bruster’s Ice Cream and Dunkin’ Donuts.

“Also, we owe a big thanks to the library staff members who were a huge help in organizing the event, too.  They really did a lot for us.” said Purich. Hoping to bring back its popularity of past years, Purich explained that they will possibly host the event again next year.

HAWK Radio Provides Soundtrack for St. Mary's Students

Looking for a soundtrack for your studying?

Same old iTunes playlists just not cutting it anymore? If you’re looking to add a little musical variety into your life, why not tune in to the HAWK Radio? Yes, that’s right. SMCM has our own college radio station, and, to quote the Beatles, it’s “getting better all the time.”

The SMCM HAWK Radio provides free online radio to anyone, anywhere who wants to listen. The HAWK has live shows featuring student disc jockeys (DJs) scheduled all throughout the week. We stream our shows online, so all you have to do to listen is go to www.seahawkradio.com and tune in!

We offer all kinds of shows. Any student can sign-up for their own show, so our programming is extremely diverse. We have themed shows, freeform shows, and we even have talk radio. Especially popular this semester is the new Diversity, Race and Gender (DRAG) show, which combines talk radio and music to allow listeners the opportunity to express their diversity. Freeform shows, Loerop+Anthony provide diverse programming with a wide appeal, while themed shows such as The Classical Experience or The Progressive Beat focus on a specific genre. Whatever you like, there’s bound to be a show you’ll enjoy. Tune in to hear your friends on the air, or just check it out if you want to try something new. Our full schedule is printed in this article, and is also available at our website.

In addition to our programming, we have also been working very hard this semester to make the station even better for our DJs and listeners. We are in the process of updating our website, with the goal of launching the new site by next year.

The new website will offer a number of updated features, including the ability to access archived recordings of our shows. In addition, we have been taking our show on the road, so to speak, providing DJing services for on-campus events. The most recent of these, Relay for Life, proved to be very successful. If you are interested in having HAWK DJs provide music for your event, please contact a member of our executive board.

We are also excited to announce that we are planning on sponsoring our first ever live performance. On April 17, Rob Fahey, former member of Baltimore-based rock group The Ravyns, will be recording an exclusive session at the HAWK, followed by a performance on the Campus Center Patio. Look for more information about this event as it gets closer, and tune in to our automated Baltimore Bands show every morning from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. to hear music by Rob and other popular Baltimore-area artists.

While all of this sounds pretty cool, we can’t continue to provide awesome events and programming without the support of talented DJs and dedicated listeners. If you are interested in DJing a show on the HAWK, please contact a member of our executive board. We are always looking for new DJs who share our love of music and radio. Even if you’re not thinking about your own show, why not tune in to the HAWK one day? Providing great DJs and excellent programming means nothing if there’s no one to listen to it and our wide range of shows almost guarantees that you will find something you like! Tune in at www.seahawkradio.com or check us out on Facebook at  https://www.facebook.com/seahawkradio.

Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Contact one of our executive board members: Nick Hughes (ndhughes@smcm.edu), Pippa Friedman (pefriedman@smcm.edu) or Matt Anthony (mhanthony@smcm.edu).

Season Recap: SMCM Men’s Lacrosse

Men’s lacrosse started the season with three losses and two wins. In their first game, the team played against Roanoke College. Team member Patrick Mull ‘13 commented on the fist game, saying, “First up was Roanoke, and we played well considering the weather conditions we were playing in.  We were literally playing in the middle of a snowstorm, it was so bad that we used yellow balls and had to have the grounds crew clear the lines on the field after every quarter with leaf blowers.  We ended up losing in the end but it gave us confidence that we can play with the best teams in the country.”

The team went on to play against Dickinson College. Mull claimed that the confidence gained from their first game helped them go on to beat Dickinson. The St. Mary’s College athletics website described the game saying, “A third-period surge of six unanswered goals and four players recording multiple-point games propelled the St. Mary’s College of Maryland men’s lacrosse team to an exciting 12-9 non-conference victory over the No. 3 Dickinson College Red Devils on a blustery Saturday afternoon.” Senior John Dehm had a career high or goals and assists (three goals, two assists). Will Lerch ‘15, Stew D’Ambrogi ‘13, Riley Fink ‘13, Peter Windsor ‘12, and Mull all helped to score in this game.

The team then went on to a non- conference loss against Franklin and Marshall College. Mull described the game against Franklin and Marshall as “a setback.” Taylor Cook, ‘13, scored two goals in the game; the final score was 11-5.

In their next game against Muhlenburg College Mull said, “We responded well with our performance against Muhlenburg, winning 13-11, getting our record back to (.500) at (2-2).” Mull scored five points in this game, and Cook had his first career hat trick in a game (a hat trick in lacrosse is three points in one game).

Regarding the game against Denison University, Mull said, “Regaining some of that confidence we had after playing Dickinson, next up on the schedule was number 10 Denison. We played hard throughout the entire game and had a good chance of winning the game, but we were unable to make the plays when it mattered, whereas Denison was able to. We ended up losing 7-6.” Matt Tarrant ‘15, Ben Love ‘14, and Lerch all scored goals in this game.

Mull described the feeling of the team, saying, “Coming into the season, we were all determined to make sure that we didn’t have a repeat of last season’s performance. Recording a record of (6-9), our team was not going to accept having a repeat of what we did last year. Our ultimate goal is to compete for the Capital Athletic Conference championship, and to earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament. As for the rest of the season, we are all working extremely hard and we are excited at the oppurtunities that are ahead of us.”

On March 17, Seahawks won against Frostburg State University with a score of 14- 4. The team’s next game is a home and conference game against Marymount University at 4:00 p.m.

News-in-Brief: Dean Laura Bayless Leaves College

On Feb. 24, President Urgo sent an all-campus email informing the College community that Laura Bayless would be stepping down from her positions as Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students at the end of the academic year. Five days later, however, Urgo sent another email explaining that Bayless had left her position and would be on leave the rest of the semester.

According to her online biography, Bayless received her B.A. in Speech Communication/Mass Media from Denison University in Granville, Ohio; her M.S. from Miami University of Ohio in College Student Personnel Services; and her Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from Virginia Tech University.

Previous to working at St. Mary’s, Bayless worked as Assistant Dean for Student Affairs and then Dean of Students at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia. In 2007, Bayless became Dean of Students of the College and in 2011, she was promoted to Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students.

In 2010, Bayless was honored as an American College Personnel Association (ACPA) “Diamond Honoree” for her outstanding and sustained contributions to higher education and to student affairs and in 2011, she was awarded the Commission for Administrative Leadership Senior Level Professional Award. Bayless also served on the ACPA: College Students International Assembly as the Coordinator-Elect for Commissions.

In his email, Urgo said he would be searching for an interim replacement for the 2012-2013 academic year while a national search is conducted for a permanent dean.

In accourdance with stated College Policy, numerous administrators refused to comment on the specifics of her departure, though in the email Urgo said, “Laura’s visibility and positive energy has made a difference on our campus. I invite you to join me in wishing Laura well as she embarks on her future endeavors.”

St. Mary's Finds Success at Maryland Student Legislature

The St. Mary’s College of Maryland delegation of the Maryland Student Legislature (MSL) met on the weekend of March 3 and 4 at McDaniel College, where the Spring Leadership Training Institute and Interim Assembly were held. Two bills drafted by St. Mary’s students were passed, and they will be under consideration by the Maryland General Assembly.

According to MSL’s official website, MSL is an organization that brings delegations of students from colleges state-wide to “simulate the legislative process by examining legislation in committees, reporting them to the full assembly, and then debate and vote on that legislation.” MSL elects students to positions such as Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General, who preside over the assemblies just as political leaders would at real sessions of the Maryland General Assembly.

Pam Schrenk, a senior and the Lieutenant Governor of MSL, explained that the student delegations “propose bills that are Maryland-centric. They represent what we want done in Maryland, and what we would want the actual General Assembly to do.”

Any bills that are passed in the MSL assemblies “are mandated in a compendium to present to the actual General Assembly. Whether or not they read it is a different story,” said MSL member and junior Alex Walls.

The two-day long event at McDaniel was composed of a leadership training program to prepare delegates for the bi-annual assemblies, and then the actual assembly event. “We have one in the fall, and a huge one in April at the State House,” said Schrenk, “and we actually get to use it and sit in the chairs and debate on the floor.”

“When we debate we use a structured debate system and try to be as civil as possible. Things get heated, but we’ve made it clear that if someone reacts to a bill a certain way it’s not personal. The people were friendly and debate was civilized and, at times, hilarious,” she added. “One proposal wanted to rebuild the Maryland statehouse in the shape of a crab, but it was done in civil language and discourse, which makes it more hilarious.”

Austin Kibler, a senior and the Delegation Chairperson for St. Mary’s, said that “at the Spring Interim Assembly we had 28 pieces of legislation, of which 13 were from St. Mary’s. At the event, we were able to debate 12 bills and only passed 5 of those 12. Three were not adopted.”

The two resolutions that were adopted included one drafted by Walls concerning the funding for a current Maryland solar energy program, which increased the funding to Clean Energy Grant Program. Sophomore Danielle Manos’ resolution concerning beekeeping zoning laws, which aims to make it easier for people to raise honey bees on their property, was also adopted.

“I chose to write a bill about beekeeping zoning ordinances, as some Maryland counties are trying to keep beekeepers from operating within residential areas,” said Manos of her successful resolution. “To most people this might not seem like a big deal, but to many beekeepers, including my father, these ordinances were threatening the beekeeping business. I was very surprised with how much support I got for my bill, and I was knowledgeable enough about honey bees and beekeeping to successfully argue against the opposition. “

The three bill that were not adopted were Nicole Zimmerman’s Act about Automatic School Meal Enrollment, which advocated the automatic enrollment of eligible children into the free or reduced lunch programs at their schools, Jonathan Holtzman’s resolution The reproach of the President of the United States, which disapproved of Obama’s use of UAV drone strikes, and a resolution submitted by the whole delegation act  Super Bright Headlights, which sought to outlaw very bright halogen head lights in certain cars.

Schrenk said, “I wrote a bill recommending that Governor O’Malley withdraw his proposal to completely shift teacher pension payment costs to individual counties. [Kibler] wrote two bills: one that would give more funding to Sotterley Plantation, and one that would increase the state tax on ammunition.” Schrenk’s and Kibler’s bills will be debated in Annapolis at the Annual Session in April.

While Schrenk said that this semester’s delegation, with a fresh crop of freshmen and sophomores, is the largest it has ever been, the St. Mary’s MSL is open to all those who are interested in law-making.

“As a Political Science major, or really any major that involves a lot of social interaction, Maryland Student Legislature is an excellent learning tool for so many reasons,” said Manos about her experience with MSL. “It helps with my public speaking, arguing and persuasion skills, gives me a better understanding of state and federal law, and gives me more self-confidence. Also being in the club is like being in a family and I encourage more people to join! It is so much fun!”

News-in-Brief: College Receives $1 Million Donation

Philanthropists Joe and Kathy Garner have given the College a donation in the amount of $1 million, President Urgo announced recently. The money will be used to create the Joseph and Kathy Garner Endowed Scholarship Fund which, “will provide tuition and supplementary co-curricular support to academically talented, financially challenged students attending St. Mary’s College, with a preference for St. Mary’s Ryken High School graduates” according to a press release.

Joe Garner, ’74, is an alumnus of both St. Mary’s College and St. Mary’s Ryken High School (previously Ryken High School). Kathy Garner graduated from the University of Maryland and was a teacher in St. Mary’s County, where she and her husband lived before they moved to Florida. The Garners were happy to donate the money and to strengthen the connection between St. Mary’s Ryken and the College.

“This scholarship will pave the way for some of St. Mary’s County’s best and brightest students to deepen their roots in the community through their St. Mary’s College experience and eventually contribute to the growth and vitality of the community that has meant so much to my family and me,” Joe Garner said in the press release.

Urgo was pleased to accept the donation, noting its inherent alignment with the College’s mission – in particular, the commitment to providing an academically rigorous education to all students, including those with difficult financial situations.

“The Garner donation ensures full participation in the liberal arts experience by providing scholarship recipients the opportunity to attend St. Mary’s College and to learn beyond the boundaries of the classroom,” Urgo said in the press release. “The Garner gift as well emphasizes the commitment of St. Mary’s College to the students and families of Southern Maryland.”

Forum Educates on the Experiences of English Language Learners in Schools

On Saturday, March 3, the Student Education Association (SEA) and senior Lauren Martin hosted the SEA Spring Forum called “The Evolving Education of English Language Learners.” Faculty from St. Mary’s College, along with other educational professionals from outside the College, visited to discuss their various experiences with English Language Learners (ELLs).

Katy Arnett, Associate Professor of Educational Studies, gave the opening speech for the forum in French. Most people in the audience did not speak French, so this gave them the experience of what it is really like to be an ELL. ELLs are students in English-speaking schools whose first language is not English. Some have some experience with English before starting school, while others may have none at all.

Six speakers came to the forum to discuss different topics related to ELLs. Students and faculty participating in the forum were able to choose three different speakers to listen to during the three breakout sessions. The sessions were separated by 15 minute breaks, during which participants could eat snacks and discuss what they had learned.

Assistant Professor of English Brian O’Sullivan delivered a lecture called “The Complexities of English,” during which he explained how difficult English can be to learn because of all its grammar and spelling complexities. We are “free and irregular in how we form words,” said O’Sullivan. English words are often spelled based on the language they originate from. Since words can originate from such different languages as French, Latin, and German, they can widely differ in spelling.

“There is so much memorization involved in learning English,” said O’Sullivan as he discussed the different ways words can be spelled. An example he gave was the different sounds the letters “ough” can make in different words like tough, though, and through.

In addition to learning English, ELLs also have to learn how to properly write an essay in a way that is accepted by English speakers. The American way of formatting a paper is to start with a thesis or argument, and then end with a conclusion. According to the French, if the thesis is presented at the beginning, there seems to be no reason to keep reading past the thesis. And for Asian writers, it is most common to start with a proverb instead of the essay writer’s individual logic.

Joanna Bartow, Associate Professor of Spanish, delivered a breakout session called “Experiencing Submersion.” For the first 15 minutes of her session, she communicated with participants purely in Spanish, whether or not they had any Spanish proficiency. Bartow asked students to read and interpret a short article written in Spanish and answer questions about the article in Spanish.

“The whole point was to do everything in Spanish,” said Bartow. “How did you feel?” Participants said they felt bored, frustrated, confused, lost, and stupid. “It’s tiring to speak Spanish all day even when you’re a Spanish major… What happens when a child is in this situation for the entire school day?”

Students in a classroom who do not understand the primary language being spoken may become bored, leading them to daydream or even misbehave. They are sometimes disruptive just because they do not understand what is going on and feel frustrated. This leads some teachers to believe these students are troublemakers and not give them the patience they may need to effectively learn English.

Associate Professor of Educational Studies Angela Johnson, along with Flavio, an ELL from Mexico, delivered the breakout session called “Family Experiences of ELLs.”

Flavio introduced the session by talking about his experience as a student starting school in the United States without any prior knowledge of English. “I was really nervous… People were saying ‘hi’ but I didn’t know what they were saying so I just said ‘yeah.'” His teacher gave him flash-cards to learn English, but with no knowledge of how to interpret English spelling, the flash-cards were not very helpful.

After a few years, Flavio was able to become proficient in spoken English, but he still had trouble writing essays and understanding other academic assignments. “His teachers have a really hard time believing that he doesn’t have academic proficiency,” said Johnson. Flavio’s teachers wrongly assumed that because he could talk well, he could also easily do everything else involved with school.

Having non-native students in the classroom brings in interesting and unique experiences. “Teaching kids from all over the world made me into a much more interesting person,” said Johnson.

The forum’s closing panel discussion was hosted by senior Lauren Martin and involved Katy Arnett, Montgomery County ESOL teacher Katie Siguenza, and St. Mary’s County Physical Education teacher Sabra Szczyglowski.

“Only about 13 to 15 percent of teachers have had any professional development in working with ELLs,” said Arnett. “SMCM is the only school in the state requiring ESLAC [English as a Second Language Across the Curriculum].”

Szczyglowski talked about the difficulties that come with having an ELL in the classroom without the proper training in how to work with them. “You don’t realize what you don’t have until you need it,” she said.

“At my school, we have 21 different countries represented, and 19 languages,” said Siguenza. “They have to produce in two years the same as a proficient student [would in English].”

After Martin finished leading the panel, students and faculty in the audience participated in a question and answer session with the panel members. Students seemed to enjoy the forum and left with a much better understanding of the experiences of ELLs in public schools across the country.