EASTON — Since 2018, The Talbot County Public Schools Education Foundation has held the “Mission Possible – Celebrating TCPS Alumni and Supporting Teachers” fundraiser each year in November. During the event, the Foundation honors a distinguished alumnus from Robert Russa Moton High, Easton High and St. Michaels Middle High, while raising funds for the foundation grants program.

“Since we are unable to honor our distinguished alumni in person this year, we decided to go ahead with a ‘virtual celebration,’” said Laura Heikes, Education Foundation Board Chair. “We hope to be able to recognize them in person next year, along with the Class of 2021 honorees.”

The virtual celebration were shared on the TCPS and Foundation social media and website on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020, the day that Mission Possible 2020 would have taken place.

With in-person fundraising events canceled, the Education Foundation will rely heavily on their annual appeal to fund their teacher grants program and endowment funds. The appeal was launched this week in conjunction with the Distinguished Alumni recognition.

“The Education Foundation has had a great year with phenomenal community support, but the needs are still ongoing, serious and relevant to each and every one of us who live in Talbot County,” said Rebecca Firth, Ph.D., Foundation board vice chair. “Every aspect of our life is in some way affected by the quality of education in our public schools and the competencies of our graduates.”

The 2020 Distinguished Alumni were selected by a committee with representatives from all three TCPS high schools based on the following criteria: Excellence in their chosen field, outstanding accomplishments, commitment to giving back to their communities, role models for current TCPS students and belief in and support of public education. They are:

Walter W. Black Jr.

Robert Russa Moton High School Class of 1954

Born in Salisbury, Walter Weldon Black Jr. grew up in Talbot County. He graduated in 1954 from Robert Russa Moton High School as salutatorian and was awarded a full scholarship to Morgan State College. As president of his graduating class, he was selected to Who’s Who Among Students at American Universities and Colleges.

Upon graduating with honors with a degree in business administration in 1958, Black was recognized as a Distinguished Military Graduate and commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He entered the military for active duty as First Lieutenant, serving at Fort Benning, Georgia, and then at Fort Ord, California. He is an alumnus of the Washington College of Law of the American University.

Black is a life-long civil rights advocate and community activist in the pursuit of racial equity and race relations. He has served as executive director, Maryland State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and president of the Talbot County Branch of the NAACP. He was appointed to the Maryland Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights, and was president of the Maryland State Conference of the NAACP. He is vice president, Talbot County Board of Elections; founding member and board member emeritus of the Frederick Douglass Honor Society and is the judge advocate for the Blake-Blackston Post 77 of the American Legion. He has served 10 years as a member and board chairman of the Neighborhood Service Center.

He has received numerous awards, including the NAACP Freedom Fighter Award, Community Service Award, Rotary Foundation Paul Harris Fellow Award, Frederick Douglas Medal and Plaque from the Talbot County NAACP, American Legion Certificate for 50 Years of Continued Membership and Juneteenth Celebration Certificate of Appreciation.

“I am deeply honored to receive the Robert Russa Moton High School Distinguished Alumnus Award,” Black said. “Much of my foundation of life was laid at good ol’ Moton High. As I have traveled the highways of life, I have always strived to uphold the name, positive traditions, and expectations of Moton High. I am forever indebted to our teachers and the Moton experience for preparing me to serve humanity.”

Black is married to Clairdean Riley Black, whom he met in college. She is a retired assistant principal from the District of Columbia School System. Their son Walter W. Black III and his family reside in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.

Childlene R. Brooks

St. Michaels High School Class of 1968

Childlene Brooks, a Talbot County native, attended the former Frederick Douglass Elementary School in St. Michaels. She attended Robert Russa Moton High School before transferring to St. Michaels High School. After graduating, she completed a business course at the Baltimore Institute and attended Chesapeake College. She worked at the Talbot County Health Department from 1993 until her retirement in 2010, where she began as a contractual outreach worker for the Breast and Cervical Cancer Program and later served as Procurement Coordinator and Fleet Manager. She then became program coordinator of Brookletts Place — Talbot County Senior Center. In 2014 she was appointed manager, a position she holds today.

A lifelong member of New St. Johns United Methodist Church, Brooks serves on the Missions Outreach Committee. She is a member of the boards of CASA of the Mid-Shore, Talbot Hospice Foundation, Frederick Douglass Honor Society, Bay Hundred Community Volunteers Inc., and the Mid Shore Pancreatic Cancer Foundation. She is co-founder of the Family & Friends of Asbury & Green Chappel Inc., and is a member of the Tidewater Rotary and the NAACP-Talbot County Branch. Past board memberships include the American Cancer Society, Critchlow Adkins Children’s Center, and Mid-Shore Pro Bono. She was appointed to the Rural Health Collaborative in 2018.

Brooks is a member of Bright With Pride Temple 1375 of the Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the World, Inc. (I.P.O.E. of W.) and currently serves as the Daughter Ruler. Her 48 year membership in the Elks organization has included leadership roles at the local, state and regional level, including The Grand Temple Daughters of Elks; Eastern Shore Local Department of Education; Past Grand Daughter Rulers of the Grand Temple; and Tri-State Daughter Rulers Council, and she served as Chairperson of the Amy A. Warden Memorial Fund.

“It was both a surprise and honor to be selected as the Distinguished Alumnus for St. Michaels High School,” Brooks said. “I am happy that I have been able to be an asset to the residents of Talbot County, but have never participated in any organization for recognition. It is because I truly care about the mission of each group that I am involved with. Thank you to the committee for presenting this program to help raise funds for the Talbot County Public Schools.”

She has one daughter, Paulette Brooks Addison who resides in Wilmington, North Carolina, with her family.

Robert D. Rauch

Easton High School Class of 1969

An Easton native, Robert D. Rauch is president of Rauch inc., a full-service professional services company offering complete professional consulting services in civil and mechanical engineering, surveying, architecture, construction management, and environmental mitigation and design. Prior to establishing the firm, he worked for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, and was Talbot County’s first Director of Public Works and County Engineer. He is a registered professional engineer in Maryland, Delaware and Virginia.

Rauch is a member of the University System of Maryland Board of Regents, the National Society of Professional Engineers, the American Society of Civil Engineers, and the University of Maryland College of Architecture, MRED Board of Advisors. He has also served on the University of Maryland Medical System Board of Directors, Shore Regional Health Board of Directors, the University of Maryland Civil Engineering Board of Visitors, and the Harry R. Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology Inc. Board of Directors. He is an adjunct instructor and mentor for the Capstone program of the University of Maryland School of Architecture, Masters in Real Estate Development (MRED).

Rauch has garnered recognition from the Talbot County Chamber of Commerce as Businessman of the Year and Small Business of the Year. Both Talbot County Economic Development and Tourism and the University of Maryland honored him for Innovation in Business, and he has received the Delaware Governor’s Conservation Award. In addition, he was chosen to speak at the International Association of Hydro Engineering Research World Congress in Panama City in 2019.

“I am humbled and very honored to be recognized in this way. I have been blessed to have been able to have a career in Easton that allowed me to live and raise my family here,” Mr. Rauch said. “I continue to stay in touch with many of my Easton High School friends, living in the area and around the country. Easton High School was an important part of my life and established the foundation for all that came after. Thank you for this unexpected recognition.”

Mr. Rauch attended Talbot County Schools from first grade through Easton High School, graduating in 1969. He continued his education at the University of Maryland, College Park, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering in 1973. There he met his wife Dale, who spent 30 years teaching elementary and middle school in Talbot County schools. They have two sons, Casey and Dustin, who are now also engineers with Rauch, inc.

“Congratulations to our Class of 2020 Distinguished Alumni! These three outstanding members of our community reflect the potential we see in all of our students,” said TCPS Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kelly Griffith. “The Education Foundation Board has taken their passionate commitment to supporting quality public education out into our community and built relationships. They have achieved results that will make a difference for our students now and in the future. We are grateful for their work, and grateful to all of the donors who have supported this very important mission.”

The Talbot County Public Schools Education Foundation was established in 2016 in partnership with the Mid-Shore Community Foundation. Its mission is to engage the community in supporting excellence in public education and provide resources to enhance the teaching and learning experience for all. To date the foundation has funded more than $96,000 in grants, including projects such as One School One Book, Mobile Science Lab, NJROTC – Project Sea Perch, the Easton Middle School Drumline and many more, and has raised $100,000 to support virtual learning connectivity for students.

To learn more about supporting the Talbot County Public Schools Education Foundation, visit https://tcpsef.org or contact Debbie Gardner, Coordinator of Public Relations and Special Programs at 410-822-0330 ext. 102 or by email at dgardner@talbotschools.org.

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