Jay Fergusonjay@deepcreekvacations.com301-501-0420

Md. superintendent pays a visit

Elaine Blaisdell Cumberland Times-News

MCHENRY — Maryland Superintendent of Schools Lillian Lowery spoke about the state’s public education system, the new Common Core standards and answered questions during the Business Before Hours breakfast held at Dutch’s at Silver Tree at Deep Creek Lake.

“I absolutely love my job and the reason why is because I get to go out and talk about the thing that I love to do the most with the people who support it the most,” said Lowery on Wednesday.

Education Week, the premier schools publication in the country, has deemed Maryland as the No. 1 state for education in the country for five years in a row, according to Lowery.

“That’s not only looking at academics, that’s looking at the kinds of support there,” said Lowery. “You are a huge piece, the chamber and the people of the community, of that No. 1.”

The College Board, which creates and produces the Advanced Placement test, has deemed the state No. 1 for the test.

In the last 10 years, the number of students taking the Advanced Placement test in the state has increased from 18,000 to about 28,000, according to Lowery.

The number of students who were deemed “successful,” scoring a 3 or better on the test, doubled.

Maryland led the country in coalescent early childhood in ages 0 to 5, in a way that was a concentrated, cohesive effort, said Lowery. The early childhood results feed into the K-12 system, which is also No. 1.

“We know that the achievement gap comes into our schools,” said Lowery. “So, what happens to children 0 to 5 is probably more important than anything else in their life.”

From 2010 to 2013, the state has almost doubled the number of students who are coming in ready for kindergarten.

The state has a readiness assessment, which looks at how students integrate socially with their peers and looks at their behaviors.

Johns Hopkins University is working on revising the assessment to make it stronger, according to Lowery.

The assessment is associated with Common Core standards, according to Lowery. The standard assesses if students who graduate from high school are college- or career-ready.

Even with all the accomplishments the state has made, Lowery said that she has still set more goals.

“My goal is to have Maryland be the national model for closing the achievement gap,” said Lowery.

The county is home to Crellin Elementary, which is the No. 1 school in the state, according to Nicole Christian, president and CEO of the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce.

“We all know how important our schools are; they are important for our children and the students of our community,” said Christian. “They are important for our work force community and economic development. We have been very privileged to have a great school system here in Garrett County.”

Lowery was asked if she would work with businesses to keep the 180 school calendar days but also help tourism raise additional revenues that could be used for education.

Tourism in the county has shrunk due to the school calendar, attendees said.

Lowery indicated that a task force was formed to address the school calendar days and that a conversation was being held with the superintendents to discuss it.

“I’m always open and willing to have a conversation. I just want to make sure we have the right people (representatives from the school district and the business community) at the table when we have the conversation so that we really understand what the needs are and how we can work with each other,” said Lowery.

Lowery was also asked if she would support revising the wealth formula to make it more equitable for the county. Garrett County, which is ranked fifth on the wealthy formula, is wealthier than Howard County and almost as wealthy as Montgomery County.

“That is conversation we are having; we did kind of start looking at the index this year,” said Lowery.

Lowery said that she will speak with her chief operating officer, Steve Brooks, about the wealth formula. Lowery said that if she comes back to the county she would bring Brooks to explain the wealth formula and address any concerns.

Lowery has been in education for 35 years and her favorite job as educator was as a high school principal, according to Cynthia Downton, president of the Garrett County Board of Education.

“I asked her (Lowery) what she wanted you to know and she wanted you to know that the work we do with every child is the right work,” said Downton. “Educating children is her job, it’s her hobby and I think if you get the opportunity to speak with her you will also see that it’s her passion.”

Lowery also traveled to Grantsville Elementary, where she read to students, following her talk.

Contact Elaine Blaisdell at eblaisdell@times-news.com.



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Jay Ferguson

Who I Am My name is Jay Ferguson, and I am a lifelong resident of the Deep Creek Lake area. I am also co-owner of the real estate side of Taylor Made. I have been in the real estate business for 21+ years now and I LOVE what I do! I have to say, my career really took off when I co-founded the real estate side of Taylor Made in 2014. Its been an amazing experience, building a real estate company from the ground up and achieving so much so quickly! In August 2016, we purchased Long & Foster Real Estate Deep Creek, where I had started my career in 2000. In 2018, we on-boarded virtually every agent from Coldwell Banker Deep Creek Realty as they closed up shop and the real estate family grew even more! We now have over 40 sales agents and have expanded to West Virginia and Pennsylvania, as well. Taylor Made is the #1 vacation rental company at Deep Creek with over 475 vacation rental homes, and over one hundred thousand yearly visitors. Its amazing what we have accomplished using the principles of honesty, teamwork and customer service! Personally, my wife Jessica and I enjoy traveling and especially spending time in the outdoors, hiking and exploring the many diverse areas that Garrett County is naturally blessed with. We have raised two wonderful children here, Kayleah (22) and Noah (13). In the summer, we love spending time on the water with friends & family and enjoying the lake life! We are both active in our church, our community & local school activities, and we fill our schedule with plenty of volunteer efforts. I currently serve on the board of directors for Habitat for Humanity. I am proud to say that I was named Deep Creek Time’s Favorite ‘Community Champion’ in 2019. I was also named Garrett County Realtor of the Year in 2018-19, as well. I really enjoy promoting my hometown. I am very proud of the resort area that has developed over my lifetime and look forward to growing the area even more! Deep Creek Lake has been described as ‘The Lake Tahoe of the east', and I think that speaks volumes about the potential to own property here! Deep Creek Lake isn't really a town or city by itself; it's comprised of three towns: Oakland, Swanton & McHenry, Maryland. I am very passionate about my hometown and am impressed with how many people know about it as we travel around the country. Deep Creek Lake is an amazing place to visit and even better place to live! During the pandemic in 2020, our market exploded and more and more people left their primary residence in the city to live here permanently. With distance learning in schools and tele-commuting becoming the ‘norm’, many more people were drawn to the area to ‘live where they love to play’. Why You Want Me Working for You: In addition to being an owner, I am consistently one of the top-producing agents in the entire area and the Associate Broker of record for Taylor-Made Deep Creek Vacations & Sales. I have 21+ years of experience and I am a problem solver. There aren’t many situations that I have not encountered and I have a strategy for almost every scenario that you may encounter. I have extensively trained in all areas of real estate & emerging technologies, and also have trained as an appraiser, as well as served as a full-time Broker. I have a strong knowledge of the industry, as well as many trusted local contacts & affiliations that allow me to perform at a very high level and deliver results. I have a great deal of respect for my peers in this industry and have strong working relationships that I would love to put to work for you. Call me to discuss your situation - I know I can be of great service to you & others you care about! Honesty. Integrity. Results.