Educator recognized for rescuing toddler from roadway

Usually, a traffic jam leads to inconvenience. But on Nov. 2, Ronna Cobb caused a traffic jam to save a life.

Cobb was on the road around 7 a.m. that morning. As a Phillip C. Showell Elementary School paraprofessional and bus driver, she was performing the first half of her regular duties.

She was driving in Selbyville around the same time as police officer Laurence “Larry” Corrigan.

“I was contacted by the 911 center that a small child was found wandering in the roadway,” near the intersection of Main Street (Route 54) and Bethany Street (Route 17), “which at 7 o’clock in the morning is not only very busy, but very dangerous,” Corrigan said.

“Shortly after I responded, I was advised that a school bus driver had taken the extraordinary measure of stopping the bus and blocking the roadway,” Corrigan added. “The child, who was 3 years old, had wandered out of his home and was unattended and was literally standing in the middle of the roadway with his pajama bottoms and top on.”

Cobb drove the small child to the school, where he was fed, clothed and soon reunited with his mother.

There were several near-collisions that morning. “Had that child been struck, we would have certainly had a fatality here, and Ronna prevented that,” Corrigan said. “I was so impressed with what she did … she took extra measures to secure this child’s safety.”

As a result, Cobb was awarded the Indian River School District’s “Above & Beyond” Award for acting far beyond her job description for the betterment of the community.

“We had a bus driver who actually saved a small child’s life,” said Superintendent Susan Bunting.

That is no small feat.

Making strides in school safety

On a large scale, Delaware schools have worked hard to create emergency response plans that cover dozens of scenarios, from bomb threats to bee stings. The Delaware State Legislature mandated that in 2012.

At the Nov. 28 IRSD Board of Education meeting, the district was honored for once again being a leader in school safety. According to the Department of Safety & Homeland Security (DSHS), every school is supposed to run various drills and/or tabletop exercises.

“Indian River was one of eight school districts that every single school in the district was 100-percent compliant,” said DSHS’s Evelyn Brown. That is considered impressive for a large district of 17 schools in 14 buildings, so she congratulated Administrator of Student Services Preston “Pep” Lewis, the school constables and school resource officers.

“We thank you for your partnership and commitment to school safety, from the administration to the staff. You never know when, and you never know where, [so] you want to have the appropriate plans in place,” Kim Chandler said.

School safety was part of the items to be paid for under the failed current-expense referendum on Nov. 22. The property tax increase of 10 cents per $100 of assessed property value would have raised the $1.5 million earmarked for safety improvements, such as addressing doors that won’t close properly, and the salaries of the school safety monitors (one per school)

Board Member Rodney Layfield asked the public “to please provide safety to our students,” when considering future referenda (whenever that may be).

Meanwhile, with a successful Color Run fundraiser under their belts, Millsboro Middle School intends to purchase $4,800 worth of its own school security enhancements.

In other IRSD news:

• East Millsboro Elementary School student Jayani Boopathi won an award in the State of Delaware School Bus Safety Poster Contest.

• After building the electronic sign at IRHS, the Indian River High School Alumni Association has proposed to build a second, smaller sign at the Clayton Avenue entrance. The school board approved the designs (with Board Member Donald Hattier absent).

• Academic Challenge math and English courses will continue, but Delaware Technical Community College had announced that it will take over the teaching of the previously University of Delaware-taught courses.

• In the Nov. 17 district audit report, the Delaware State Auditor’s office questioned whether Mary Bailey Scholarships have truly been awarded according to the intended criteria and with no signs of nepotism. Board Member James “Jim” Fritz shared a history of the memorial scholarship’s history since it was created in the 1980s, for seniors at Sussex Central and Woodbridge high schools.

• The IRSD supports individual teachers’ use of online donation sites, such as But the board is drafting Policy KH “Online Donation Accounts” to create protocol for using such donations. The pages must be approved by the building principal (and the IRSD Technology Department, if the money is intended for technology).

• Although “change orders” typically mean the spending of more money, the IRSD benefited from more than $13,000 in major capital construction change-order refunds recently.

The IRSD Board of Education will meet next on Monday, Dec. 19, at 7 p.m. at Sussex Central High School.