View Older News »


Dize Celebrates 50 years in teaching


CENTREVILLE, MD—Surrounded by paintings, pottery, and wood carvings, Ben Dize helps students with landscape sketches of the Gunston campus. A few feet away, the whir of the pottery wheel and the buzz of wood-carving instruments hum in the background. For twenty years, Mr. Dize has been a fixture at Gunston as the Art Department Chair, but this month is special—Dize celebrates a career milestone of 50 years teaching art.


“I like to say that Ben is both the oldest and youngest teacher we have at Gunston,” shared Headmaster John Lewis, “he brings decades of experience to the classroom, but he still maintains the passion of an excited, newly-minted teacher.” Dize began his teaching career at Mount Hebron High School in Howard County on February 3, 1969. From there he taught for the Kent County Public School system for thirty years. Gunston was fortunate enough to have him share his creativity and passion for art beginning in 1999.


To celebrate Dize’s milestone, the entire student body, faculty, staff and past co-workers gathered to praise and honor Ben Dize. When asked what he enjoyed most about his career, Dize replied, “Seeing apprehensive students transform into artists”.


Former Gunston student and Emmy Award recipient, Rita Baghdadi summed it up best, “Ben Dize is an incredibly talented artist, and one of the most influential teachers in my life. I learned a lot of valuable lessons in Ben’s classroom, most importantly to not take things so seriously! We always had fun, no matter what. By showing me how to think critically about art, and encouraging me to experiment with my own creativity, Ben taught me how to embrace my own unique style, a reminder I hold very dear to this day. Thank you for being you, Ben!”

Governor Recognizes Dr. Ciotola as Rural Champion



CENTREVILLE – Governor Larry Hogan recently issued a Governor’s Citation to Queen Anne’s County Health Officer Dr. Joseph A. Ciotola, Jr. recognizing him as a Rural Champion in the state of Maryland.

“Everything Dr. C touches turns to Gold,” said County Commissioner Philip Dumenil. “His ideas are years ahead of most and his passion for accessible and affordable healthcare is over the top.”

Linda Kohler, Executive Director of Chesapeake Charities nominated Dr. Ciotola for his many contributions. She wrote, “Dr. Ciotola believes in making health care better for all people. To that end, he is passionate about providing innovative services to Maryland’s most needy residents – the elderly poor in rural communities. Dr. Ciotola was the brain and heart behind Queen Anne’s County’s Mobile Integrated Community Health (MICH) program which is now a statewide initiative benefitting thousands of Maryland residents. Through the MICH program, teams of public health nurses and paramedics visit impoverished individuals in their homes and link patients to community resources, improving health outcomes and reducing trips to hospital emergency departments for individuals with complex medical conditions. In addition to serving as both the Health Officer for Queen Anne’s County and the Medical Director for the Department of Emergency Services, Dr. Ciotola graciously accepts appointments to state health committees, testifies before the legislature on important health policies, serves on local and regional boards and committees, and, at the end of a long week, is a thoughtful father and husband – not to

mention a terrific ballroom dancer. Dr. “C” is a renaissance man dedicated to improving the

health of his community. His many years of service should be recognized and applauded.”

When Kohler read that statement during the December 11, Queen Anne’s County Commissioners’ meeting, the Commissioners and audience gave a standing ovation in honor of Dr. Ciotola.

“Thank you very much but this is not just a one man show,” said Dr. Ciotola. “This is something that was accomplished because of the dedication of many individuals in this county, both from the department of emergency services, the health department, area on aging, social services, transportation, and, not in the least way, the commissioners of Queen Anne’s County who had the faith and the confidence and the support to enable us to start this program which was the pilot for the state of Maryland and is now gaining popularity throughout. We are still fighting that battle for sustainability, but it is a program that truly addresses the needs of our elderly, our vulnerable and those that most need medical health.”

Local Family Starts Charity to Help Families with Hospitalized Children

The Steele family from Grasonville, has had to spend quite a bit of time in the Pediatric Neuro Unit at Children’s National Hospital in Washington D.C., with their youngest daughter, Maggie.  Maggie had a brain bleed before she was born 4 years ago, and had to stay in the PICU before she was healthy enough to go home.  Maggie has had more hospitalizations since then for her epilepsy and other complications.

One thing that struck Maggie’s mother, Joanna, is how difficult it is being in the hospital with a sick child.  Joanna said, “We have walked the walk of multiple hospitalizations and two, month long hospital stays away from our other kids and know how important serving families directly in their time of need means.  So, we as a family are grateful to continue this ‘pay it forward’ mission, because we know how much it really means.” 

The Steele’s decided to try and make things a little easier for families with sick children, by supplying them with one of Mag’s Bags. The Steele’s collect toiletries, snacks, water and blankets; put them in one of Mag’s special bags and deliver them to the hospital.  At the hospital they are given to the families and children who are patients there.

Joanna said, “It is very touching to hear from families who have been flown in via helicopter, or brought in through the ER unexpectedly who have received a Mag’s Bag.  When they’re finding themselves in a situation that is unimaginable, how grateful and appreciative and comforting it is for them to be given a Mag’s Bag.”

Several schools, including Grasonville Elementary, Centreville Elementary, and schools from Severna Park, Baltimore and Pennsylvania, have made donations of supplies and money to support Mag’s Bags mission.  Joanna and Maggie visit schools and talk to the kids about Mag’s Bags to help them understand that Maggie is really just like them.  Joanna said, “Maggie and I have enjoyed speaking to elementary schools about the importance of paying it forward, being a positive part of the community, and acceptance. We want them to know that our similarities far outweigh our differences and that kids can make a huge difference.”

Mag’s Bags is always accepting donations of blankets, individual packs of snacks, crackers, granola bars, candy, gum and water bottles.  They also accept gift cards to Wal-Mart, and Dollar Tree, coloring books and crayons; along with trial size toiletries like, shampoo, body wash, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, mouth wash and hand sanitizer.  Anyone interested in making a supply, monetary or gift card donation to Mag’s Bags, please email to make arrangements. For more information, visit the Mag’s Bags Facebook page.

What’s Cooking with Melissa?

Sometimes lunch can be boring so I like to come up with some fun lunches. I especially like to find many uses for certain things I buy like gluten free corn tortillas. Those tortillas come in a large pack so one day I came up with this recipe for these Mexican inspired roll ups.

Mexican Roll Ups

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

8 oz. plain yogurt or sour cream

1 cup black beans (rinsed and drained)

1/2 cup canned corn, drained

1 tsp. taco seasoning (or more for more flavor)

2 tbsp. onion, chopped (optional)

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

soft tortillas (I use gluten free corn tortillas)

Mix all ingredients together except cheese and tortillas. Refrigerate mixture until a little firm. When ready, scoop mixture onto tortillas and sprinkle with cheese. Roll and serve. (These can also be prepared ahead of time.)

*I use low fat cream cheese and sour cream. 

**Chopped tomatoes and shredded lettuce also can be added to these roll ups.

Apprenticeship Maryland Program Seeks Businesses and Students



RTI Forensics, photographed for the Queen Anne’s County Office of Economic Development

CENTREVILLE – Queen Anne’s County is proud to join five other counties in the Apprenticeship Maryland Program (AMP) administered by the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation. AMP creates employment opportunities for junior and senior high school students and educational options through a partnership with Queen Anne’s County Public Schools and Chesapeake College.

Students that participate in the AMP program will get a head start on their career and gain valuable experience while earning money. Queen Anne’s County businesses who register to participate in this program will be able to build a pipeline of skilled workforce.  With a combination of on the job training and related classroom instruction students will receive relevant workplace learning. This program is available to any business in Queen Anne’s County.

“I encourage local businesses to consider participating in this program, especially those companies that are actively seeking to fill entry-level positions with the opportunity for career advancement,” says Jean Fabi, Economic Development Manager, who is partnering with our local DLLR Business Navigator, Patricia Shreve, to register companies.  Companies will be matched with students that have an interest in the career fields available. “It is important to have a variety of different businesses register that are representative of the county’s industry sectors,” says Fabi.

“This program combined with our efforts for the Regional Technical School at Chesapeake College will create numerous new career opportunities for our students who are not likely to go the college route.” says Jack Wilson, Queen Anne’s County Commissioner.

Businesses interested in participating in the Youth Apprentice program should contact Jean Fabi, Queen Anne’s County Economic Development Manager at 410-604-2100 or, and Patricia Shreve, DLLR Business Navigator, a 410-916-3342, or

High school juniors and seniors interested in becoming a youth apprentice may contact Adam Tolley 410-758-2403 x252 or


QACPS Artists Win Ten Scholastic Art Awards!


QUEEN ANNE’S COUNTY — (March 15, 2019) — After many months of hard work, and for the first time ever in the history of Queen Anne’s County Public Schools, six student artists (four KIHS students of Mrs. Schulte, two QACHS students of Ms. Zeiler) won a total of ten Scholastic Art Regional Awards for their artwork! This goes beyond the state level, since it includes competing against students across the entire northeast region-at-large, which extends from Maryland through New York City, all the way up through Maine!

Northeast Region-at-large winners include:
Hannah Claggett (Silver Key, Honorable Mention)
Nora Gast (Two Honorable Mentions)
Caroline Hurlebaus (Honorable Mention)
Theresa Surina (Silver Key, Honorable Mention)
Cara Brown (Silver Key)
Melissa Gill (Honorable Mention

“Hundreds of thousands of students compete against one another for Scholastic, so for these students to actually win an award at the regional level their first time ever submitting—it’s a TREMENDOUS accomplishment!  I couldn’t be happier for them, or prouder of thier teachers for taking the time to help them submit work. Andy Warhol won a Scholastic Art award when he was in high school, so it’s that big of a deal,” said Michael Bell, Supervisor of Visual and Performing Arts.

The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards are the nation’s longest-running and most prestigious recognition program for creative teens in grades 7–12, and the Northeast Region-at-Large is administered by the Alliance’s national office in New York City.

This year, Scholastic reported that nearly 340,000 works of visual art and writing were submitted and more than 90,000 works were recognized at the regional level. The top art and writing at the regional level were moved onto the national stage, where more than 2,700 students earned National Medals. National Medalists and their educators are celebrated each year at the National Ceremony at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Among the past notable Scholastic Art winners include Andy Warhol, Kay WalkingStick, Sylvia Plath, Stephen King, Richard Avedon, Nick Cannon and Zac Posen to name a few.

Here’s a fun fact: Supervisor Bell also ranks among the nation’s award winning medalists, and summed up the experience in just a few words, “There’s nothing like Carnegie Hall!”

Principal Planner Briefs Queen Anne’s County Democratic Club on Upcoming Ten-Year Comprehensive Plan

Queen Anne’s County Principal Planner Helen Spinelli spoke about the upcoming ten-year comprehensive planning process to members of the Democratic Club during their meeting at the Centerville Library on March 7.

Spinelli stated she expects the process for the 2020 plan to begin sometime this year. In describing the elements of the upcoming plan, Spinelli said, “as we move forward, we need to do the next level” with a focus on “three important issues: sea-level rise, aging in place, and traffic on the 50 and 301 corridor(s).”

Responding to a question about citizen participation in the process, Spinelli said, she did not know, but county commissioners would decide in a public hearing. Citing the success of its use in other jurisdictions, Spinelli also said, “I think I’m going to recommend a focus group (instead of the prior) standing committees, it’s a really good way to get much broader input.”

Earlier in her remarks, Spinelli credited Queen Anne’s County for having a “long history of a strong ethic for public participation,” and offered “the county commission is very receptive to hearing from you.”

Spinelli also announced after 15 years as Queen Anne’s County Chief of Community and Environmental and Principal Planner, she will be retiring this year and would not be involved in the county’s upcoming comprehensive plan. 

Comparing the ten-year comprehensive planning process to “writing a Ph.D.,” Spinelli, said “I’ve done five or six plans and think there are only so many plans you have in your heart and head.”

Following Spinelli’s retirement announcement, Democratic Club President, Jim Coulter, commented, “Helen Spinelli has been a great asset to our county. Her expertise and energy have helped to successfully guide the county’s land use plans for years.”

Helen Spinelli’s career in Land Use and Community Planning spans more than 30 years in Maryland to include Anne Arundel, Carroll, and Caroline Counties. Also, an Adjunct Professor at Morgan State University Graduate School of Architecture and Planning, Spinelli is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners.

Spinelli holds a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in Economics from Fordham University and an Honors Economics Fellowship for Dalhousie University in Halifax Nova Scotia Canada. Spinelli also is a trained community mediator.


Continuum Dance offers spring concert in celebration of two years

Continuum Dance celebrates two years as the first professional dance company on the Mid Shore with a concert featuring selections from their repertoire of over forty pieces. Community members will have two opportunities to experience the spring concert, with dancers taking the stage of the Oxford Community Center on Saturday, April 6 at 3pm and 6pm.

This performance honors the many individuals who have supported the organization thus far, while also celebrating the genuine love of the art of dance. The concert will feature original compositions and reproductions by Two World Studios, an eastern shore music production company, as well as dancers of Continuum’s adult company and apprentice program.

In a region where live artistic dance performances seldom occur, this show continues Continuum Dance’s core mission of providing residents of Delmarva the opportunity to experience professional-quality, artistic dance. Each performance is an invitation for audience members to open their hearts and minds to the art of dance with the hope of inspiring self-expression through the performing arts.

A reception will follow each performance, providing an opportunity to meet with Continuum company members, apprentices, and board members. Attendees will also have an opportunity to purchase raffle tickets and enter for a chance to win a Continuum Dance sweatshirt or tote bag, with all raffle proceeds supporting the mission of Continuum Dance.

Admittance tickets can be purchased in advance at, or at the door for $20 adults or $15 students and seniors.

This concert is funded in part by a grant from the Talbot County Arts Council, with revenues provided by the Maryland State Arts Council.

Continuum Dance is committed to providing greater accessibility and knowledge of artistic dance in the Delmarva community. As an emerging professional performance company, Continuum Dance showcases accomplished professional artists of the region, provides training and experience to young dancers through an apprenticeship program, and celebrates the art of dance through master classes, open houses, and other public events. For more information or to get involved, visit or email

Schools Focus on Preventing Child Abuse in Talbot County


The Talbot County Department of Social Services is partnering with Sts. Peter and Paul Elementary School in Easton to offer the Empower Me program, a child sexual abuse prevention program, to students in grades Pre-K through fifth grade. The program is in response to Erin’s Law that has been passed in 35 states mandating child sexual abuse prevention. Empower Me teaches children, ages three through 12, and adults about personal safety. Children learn four safety rules and how to develop a safety net of trusted adults. Talbot County Child Protective Services receives approximately 200 reports alleging child physical abuse, sexual abuse or neglect annually.

Dr. Faye Schilling, Principal of Sts. Peter and Paul Elementary School, comments, “Partnering with the Department of Social Services through the Empower Me Program was the next logical step in Sts. Peter and Paul’s effort to not only provide a superior academic experience but also offer our students comprehensive social/emotional learning strategies. I am confident that the skills acquired from the Empower Me program will help our students to make effective decisions and give them a ‘sixth sense’ when it comes to navigating the complexities and dangers within our society.”

As part of Sts. Peter and Paul’s rollout plan, the school recently offered a teachable safety skills program to parents of children in grades Pre-K through grade five. Marianne Connolly, School Counselor at Sts. Peter and Paul’s Elementary School, comments, “Our hope is that beginning the process with a parent presentation will help ensure that there are a common framework and language used when discussing personal safety within our school community and families. The program gives parents specific safety rules to reinforce with their children at home. Paris Quillet and Deputy John Coleman encouraged parents to have lots of little talks about personal safety with their children, rather than ‘the talk’.”

For further information about the Empower Me program, contact Paris Quillet at 410-770-5870 or email

Compass Regional Hospice celebrates National Social Worker’s Month


 Celebrated each March, National Professional Social Work Month is an opportunity for Compass Regional Hospice to thank its team of social workers, who epitomize the core values of their profession: “Leaders, Advocates, Champions.” This month, social workers across the country are turning the spotlight on their profession and highlighting the important contributions they make. Compass Regional Hospice is fortunate to have these strong women on our team and we value each of them and their contributions to our patients’ well-being. They tie Compass’ mission to provide “Care on your terms” together. From left, back row, are social workers Michelle Matthews, Penny Greeley, Roya Testerman, and Becky Ryan. From left, front row, are social worker Michelle Tuttle, Compass Regional Hospice Support Services Supervisor and social worker Sharon Loving and social worker Shakeara Jones.


View Older News »