It’s been interesting to talk with school-aged parents about typical concerns over the last week. Rather than dwelling on masks, which right or wrong are essential to keeping kids in school and out of constant quarantine, the focus of late has turned to the absurdity of conducting state testing one month into the school year.
A letter distributed by the state Department of Education reads, “As part of continued COVID-19 recovery efforts, the Maryland State Department of Education is conducting an early fall student assessment as one of several strategies to identify how students are performing academically. The results will help educators better understand student needs, so that we can address disrupted education and accelerate learning opportunities for all students. These results never stand alone in assessing student growth, and will be used in combination with other assessments and class work to gauge overall student performance.”
Another way to explain why more than 6,500 county students – some of whom have not been in school since March 2020 — are being forced to undergo these standardized tests now is to capture how far behind they are for the record. It’s clear the majority of students are going to struggle on these assessments, which have been shortened from traditional tests and reflect the previous spring’s grade level material. No matter, the scores are going to be poor, coming off summer and a period of instruction inconsistency. A majority of students will underperform. School systems will be able to compare these nadir test results after considerably less instruction than normal with the next rounds of test scores, which should be normalized by consistent in-person learning.
While the need for a barometer to evaluate students is understandable, the timing of having these kids take these tests, and teachers forced to administer them, one month into a new school year is downright cold. No matter, the conversations about the absurd timing of these tests was welcomed this week over more predictable discussions over facial coverings.
There were two significant losses this week for the Ocean City community – one in the real estate industry and another in the hospitality business. I knew them both on a personal level.
One year after receiving the Coastal Association REALTORS Lifetime Achievement Award, Realtor Joy Snyder has passed away. Joy was a professional Realtor who worked tirelessly at her trade. She was principled, dedicated and disciplined about her work. Throughout her nearly 50-year real estate career, she was known for her attention to detail and ethical standards. She was considered the local expert in the real estate industry, working tirelessly for her clients and mentoring dozens of aspiring Realtors throughout her career.
I talked to Joy on a weekly basis through email, text or phone for more than 20 years. “Snyder,” as she would often refer to herself, would call and give me scoops about a property’s pending transaction, general scuttlebutt and also some words of advice on life. I always answered her call. For one, I knew it would be short because she always had a lot on her plate. Secondly, I also had a ton of respect for her and never wanted to put her to voicemail and not give her the time she deserved. When her cancer diagnosis came, she was stubborn and strong, working as long as she could. The contact diminished during her courageous battle, but her impact on so many of us will never wane. I take comfort in knowing she is no longer in pain after her long battle with pancreatic cancer and send best wishes to her close family members as well as the ocean of friends who were touched this week.
Bill Gibbs, who gained the nickname “Bird” due to his basketball prowess as a young man, was a legend in the Ocean City restaurant community. When this newspaper honored Gibbs as one of our Charitable Souls in 2012, the three words he used to describe himself were generous, compassionate and determined –perfect traits to sum up Gibbs. His professional success is obvious, but he also saw fit to give back to his community, donating generously to dozens of causes and, perhaps most importantly, volunteering his time in leadership capacities.
One of my favorite memories was the speech he gave in 2014 when he was recognized as businessman of the year by the Ocean City Chamber of Commerce. With his blunt characterization of his career and his honest descriptions of his many local business ventures – most of which were successful while a few not so much — his speech was the highlight of the night for me. He made the audience laugh. He also made many of us think. He might have even made some of the more emotional types get choked because his sincerity was evident when he talked about his family, especially his wife, as well as his close business colleagues that he spoke of with respect and gratitude. In one of the more candid moments, Gibbs reflected on a failure he recently had. He talked about the former Castaways restaurant in Ocean City that he opened. He said he purchased the former Capt. Bob’s property and redeveloped it to try something different. He admitted it didn’t go well and the business went under. “I screwed up. I failed again,” Gibbs said, going on to say he was proud to see a new restaurant in its place prospering. It was this sort of humble, honest way I will remember about Mr. Gibbs. He was as genuine as it gets.