The Board of Education’s next work session is Monday, Sept. 26 at the Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building on Radio Station Road in La Plata. The public portion of the meeting begins at 6 p.m. The meeting is televised live on Comcast Channel 96 and Verizon FiOS Channel 12 and is rebroadcast throughout the week.

Board meetings are also streamed live on the school system website at www.ccboe.com. Select CCPS TV and then choose the Live Broadcast tab. The following is a tentative meeting agenda and is subject to change.

Call to order – 6 p.m.

Pledge of Allegiance

Public Forum

Work Session

Policy 6000 review

Adjournment 

About CCPS

Charles County Public Schools provides 26,300 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.

The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Dr. Patricia Vaira, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Pamela K. Murphy, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.

 

 

Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) serves a variety of breakfast and lunch menu items for students at low costs for parents. For the 2016-17 school year, prices for elementary school students are $1.25 for breakfast and $2.65 for lunch. Middle and high school students can purchase breakfast for $1.40 and lunch for $2.90. Some students may be eligible for free or reduced-price meals and CCPS determines eligibility through income guidelines established by the federal government.

The reduced price for breakfast is $0.30 and $0.40 for lunch. All Charles County Public Schools students receive an application for free or reduced-price meals either at school or through the mail. Applications, including a Spanish version, are also available at each school. Families with more than one child attending CCPS only need to complete one application per household. Parents can also access the application on the CCPS website, www.ccboe.com. To access the application, click on the Free and Reduced Meal Application graphic located at the bottom of the home page.

Paper applications should be sent directly to Charles County Public Schools, Department of Food and Nutrition Services, 5980 Radio Station Road, La Plata, MD, 20646. There is a 10 business day turn-around time for paper applications once they are received by Food Services. School system staff review applications for eligibility and incomplete applications will not be reviewed. Additionally, all provided information may be checked for eligibility verification.

Approved applications are only valid for one school year and need to be resubmitted at the start of each new school year. Benefits for the 2015-16 school year end on Oct. 12 or when notification that benefits for 2016-17 have been approved. Parents can also apply at any time during the school year.

Questions about the application process and free or reduced-price meal benefits should be directed to the Department of Food and Nutrition Services at 301-392-5575.

About CCPS

Charles County Public Schools provides 26,300 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.

The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Dr. Patricia Vaira, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Pamela K. Murphy, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.

Charles County Public Schools will hold financial aid presentations in October at each of the seven high schools. Parents and students can attend any session, regardless of the school attended.

The financial aid presentations are:

  • Henry E. Lackey High School at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 19;
  • La Plata High School at 6 p.m. Oct. 18;
  • Maurice J. McDonough High School at 6 p.m. Oct. 3;
  • North Point High School at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 5;
  • Charles High School at 7 p.m. Oct. 4;
  • Thomas Stone High School at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 12; and
  • Westlake High School at 6 p.m. Oct. 12.

About CCPS

Charles County Public Schools provides 26,300 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.

 

The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Dr. Patricia Vaira, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Pamela K. Murphy, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.

 

 

The Charles County Board of Education’s School Naming Advisory Committee is holding a public hearing to accept information or comment on names submitted and to accept additional school naming suggestions from the public. The hearing is set for Monday, Oct. 17, 6:30 p.m. in the boardroom at the Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building at 5980 Radio Station Road in La Plata.

The School Naming Advisory Committee is considering names for the new elementary school to be built off Billingsley Road in White Plains. The school is scheduled to open at the start of the 2018-19 school year.

Board policy requires names of new schools to be of persons or places of significance to Charles County residents and community members. A person must be deceased to be eligible for consideration as a school name.

Residents may begin to sign up to speak at 6 p.m. The committee will begin hearing testimony at 6:30 p.m. but will allow speakers to sign up until 7 p.m. Speakers will have three minutes to present, and committee members may ask questions about their nominee. The committee asks that speakers leave a copy of their written testimony for the record.

The hearing will be aired live on the system website at www.ccboe.com and televised on Comcast Channel 96 and Verizon FiOS Channel 12.

A complete list of naming suggestions submitted to the committee will be posted on the Charles County Public Schools website prior to the hearing.

About CCPS

Charles County Public Schools provides 26,300 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.

The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Dr. Patricia Vaira, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Pamela K. Murphy, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.

The Charles County Sheriff’s Office Automated Speed Enforcement Unit is adding two new school zones to the automated speed enforcement program in October.

The new locations are T.C. Martin Elementary School at 6315 Oliver Shop Road in Bryantown, and St. Charles High School at 5305 Piney Church Road in Waldorf.

The sheriff’s office currently has four mobile cameras that are moved every two weeks to approved school zones including:

• Thomas Stone High School, 3785 Leonardtown Road, Waldorf

• Westlake High School, 3300 Middletown Road, Waldorf

• Maurice J. McDonough High School, 7165 Marshall Corner Road, Pomfret

• General Smallwood Middle School, 4990 Indian Head Highway, Indian Head

• William B. Wade Elementary School, 2300 Smallwood Drive West, Waldorf

• Berry Elementary School, 10155 Berry Road, Waldorf

• Dr. James Craik Elementary School, 7725 Marshall Corner Road, Pomfret

• Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer Elementary School, 2820 Jenifer School Lane, Waldorf

• Malcolm Elementary School, 14760 Poplar Hill Road, Waldorf

• Grace Christian Academy, 13000 Zekiah Drive, Waldorf.

As a courtesy, the locations of the cameras are posted weekly on the sheriff’s office Facebook page.

Cameras are activated Monday through Friday, all year long, from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. with the exception of Wade Elementary School which operates from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m.

Citations are issued to the registered owner of the vehicle and only if the speed is 12 mph or more over the posted speed limit.

A school zone speed camera violation is a $40 fine with no points.

About CCPS

Charles County Public Schools provides 26,300 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.

The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Dr. Patricia Vaira, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Pamela K. Murphy, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-661

Missing a school day here or there can be managed with some focused catch-up, but chronic absenteeism — missing at least 10 percent, or 18 days a school year — widens a gulf that many cannot bridge.

Over time, gaps in a child’s education as a result of not showing up — excused or not —may result in falling behind academically and failing to graduate.

September is Attendance Awareness Month. Nationwide, more than 3 million, or 18 percent, of high school students were chronically absent in 2013-14, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s Civil Rights Data Collection. By high school, regular attendance is a better dropout indicator than test scores, the data revealed. “A student who is chronically absent in any school year between the eighth and 12th grade is seven times more likely to drop out of school,” the report read.

Missing days from high school can be learned behavior for a student who was chronically absent in elementary and middle school.

 “Trends start in elementary school and it becomes a pattern,” Sheri Morrison, pupil personnel worker for Indian Head and Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy elementary schools, said. A student racking up one or two absences a month as a youngster will likely carry the trait on to middle and high school. “They miss so many opportunities,” Morrison said.

“The gaps in their education are hard to make up,” said William Miller, principal of Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy. “When they get older, it’s even harder to fill those gaps.”

To excite students, Mt. Hope and Indian Head held a Spirit Week Sept. 12 to 15. Students took part in Shades Day by wearing their favorite sunglasses. Hat Day, Pirate Day and Super Hero Day also were held.

Every Student, Every Day is a national initiative to address and combat chronic absenteeism. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education and with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and U.S. Department of Justice, the program aims to address chronic absenteeism among vulnerable students.

According to the education department’s reports, more than 3 million high school students —18 percent of all high school students in the country — are chronically absent with African Americans making up 22 percent, multiracial students 21 percent and Latino students coming in at 20 percent absent for 18 or more days per school year.

More than 3.5 million elementary school students, which is 11 percent of their population, are chronically absent each year. According to the report, African American elementary school students are 1.4 times more likely to be chronically absent than their white peers.

In Charles County, more than 2,300 children missed 20 or more days of school in 2015-16, said Sue DelaCruz, supervising Pupil Personnel Worker. “That works out to an entire month of school,” she said. “Many parents don’t realize that missing one or two days a month leads to 20 or more days in one school year.”

Children between the ages of 5 and 17 are required by law to attend school, DelaCruz said. Parents who do not ensure that their children are in school every day and on time, can be charged, she added.

“Every day of school that [a] child misses is a missed opportunity for emotional and intellectual growth,” DelaCruz said. “Make-up work does not replace the instruction and discussions that occur in the classroom.”

About CCPS

Charles County Public Schools provides 26,300 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.

 

The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Dr. Patricia Vaira, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Pamela K. Murphy, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.

Charles County Public Schools is looking for a few good people to serve on its elementary school redistricting committee.

The school system will select 11 parents to serve on the committee —  two each from the middle and high school levels and seven from the elementary schools. Additionally, the Board will select three community members for the committee, which also includes principals, county government planners and Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) staff.

The school system is starting a comprehensive elementary school redistricting process that will create an attendance zone for the county’s 22nd elementary school and reduce overcrowding at other elementary schools. The new elementary school will be located off Billingsley Road in White Plains. Construction is expected to be complete before the start of the 2018-19 school year. The committee will also develop rezoning proposals for Dr. Samuel A. Mudd Elementary School, which is scheduled for a renovation and expansion.

The committee will review and balance student populations as needed at all elementary schools. The Board will approve the redistricting by June 2017, and the redistricting will take effect in the fall of 2018.

Commitment

Applicants must agree to fulfill a four- to five-month commitment of attendance at a weekly meeting. The meeting day will be Wednesday, and the time of all meetings is 6:30-8:30 p.m. 

How to apply

Elementary, middle and high school principals are now accepting names from parents with interest in serving on the committee. Contact your child’s principal to find out the deadline for applying and when the random selection will be made at the school. An application form is available online at www.ccboe.com/redistricting or can be picked up at your child’s school.

Community members must not have a child enrolled in any Charles County public school and must fill out an online application at http://www.ccboe.com/redistricting/, or call 301-934-7221 to receive an application by mail. Members of the community must apply no later than Oct. 14.

The process

Each elementary, middle and high school will submit to the Superintendent the name of one parent to be selected at random from all expressing interest. The Board will place the name of a parent from each elementary school in a container and select seven names at random from the 21 submissions. Principals from each of the eight middle schools and seven high schools will follow the same process. The Board will randomly select two middle school and two high school parent members.

Three community members will be selected from all applicants. Community members should not have a child enrolled in any Charles County public school and must fill out an application. The application can be completed and submitted online. Applications will also be mailed on request. Only applications received by Oct. 14 will be considered.

Superintendent Kimberly Hill and the Board of Education will publicly draw the names of parents and the community representatives at the Board’s Oct. 18 meeting, which is streamed live on the school system website and aired live on Comcast 96 and Verizon FiOS 12.

Questions about the process can be sent to redistrict@ccboe.com or call 301-934-7221.

About CCPS

Charles County Public Schools provides 26,300 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.

The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Dr. Patricia Vaira, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Pamela K. Murphy, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.

The Board of Education of Charles County is researching alternatives to the school calendar for next school year and would like feedback from the community. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan recently announced an executive order that requires all public school systems in Maryland to start their school year no earlier than the Tuesday after Labor Day and end by June 15.

The Board approved a 2017-18 school calendar earlier this year that does not reflect the mandated changes. The Board is seeking community feedback on two options developed to meet the new start and end date requirements. A short, seven-question survey is posted on the school system website at http://www.ccboe.com/calendar/calendarsurvey.php.

The Board solicits public input and feedback from the community annually when developing the school calendar, which helps staff identify options that work best for students, staff, parents and the community.

Maryland law requires students attend school for 180 days per school year. The Maryland State Board of Education does not count hours towards days of student attendance. For example, a two-hour early dismissal day already counts as one of the 180 required days. While the executive order includes a waiver provision for school districts, no additional clarification or waiver guidelines have been published.

About CCPS

Charles County Public Schools provides 26,300 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.

The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Dr. Patricia Vaira, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Pamela K. Murphy, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.

Harold Watts was playing gigs at nightclubs like the Flamingo Club at 14th & W in Washington, D.C. A saxophone player, he was booking jobs in Baltimore too, and was a member of the band at the Howard Theatre.

It was at Howard where he met someone who mentioned a high school in Charles County was looking for a band director. Watts, an educator in his native South Carolina, figured he could look into the job.

He traveled to Pomonkey High School and met the principal, Charles Coates, who offered him the position.

During a presentation Friday at the Charles County Fair, Watts recalled his career as a band teacher at the segregated, then integrated, Pomonkey. Watts was one of several speakers participating in the Board of Education’s second of three presentations highlighting the history of education in Charles County.

By taking the Pomonkey job, Watts joined what he considered an elite group of educators. “I’ve never seen a faculty like that faculty,” he said, adding that he had worked in other school systems before coming to Charles County. “There were some brilliant minds that taught at that school.”

He said the band “was a site to behold,” Watts said. There were hardly any instruments, prompting him to ask friends, businesses and the Board of Education to help procure some. “People would pass by the band room — they thought things were going crazy in there with the bad notes and everything that was coming out,” he said.

At first, the students made more noise than music, Watts said. By the second year, the band was marching in local parades, playing the three songs it knew. In time, the talent grew. Parents formed a booster club and bought the group uniforms. “Those kids I had in the band were some of the brightest kids, some of the best kids I had,” he said.

In his seventh year at Pomonkey, the school began to integrate by bringing in white students. Mary Mosher was one of them, attending Pomonkey in seventh and eighth grades. “Mr. Watts was one of my favorite teachers,” said Mosher, who attended his presentation at the McConchie One-room Schoolhouse. Mosher, who studied science in college, continued to keep up with her music — she played the flute in school, but now focuses on obscure medieval instruments.

“Band directors are especially cool and Mr. Watts was way cool,” she said. “He had a lasting influence on me.”

Watts went on to teach at Thomas Stone and Gwynn Park high schools. He also joined the Washington Redskins band and was a member of the team’s singing group for more than 30 years, traveling to five Super Bowls and performing at three.

Other presenters for the segregation and desegregation presentation at the Fair included Anna Kephart, Board member Margaret Marshall, Russell Lee, Mary Louise Webb, Marlene Jamieson, Dorothea and George Smith and Conchita Walls.

The event was part of the 100-year anniversary celebration of the Board of Education. “When Disaster Strikes, We are Ready,” will be 6:30 p.m. Oct. 1 at the James E. Richmond Science Center at St. Charles High School. For more information, visit www.ccboe.com/100years/.

About CCPS
Charles County Public Schools provides 26,300 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.

The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Dr. Patricia Vaira, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Pamela K. Murphy, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event. 

Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) is launching several new programs and initiatives this school year geared at better infusing technology into curriculum and enhancing teaching and learning for students.

While students and teachers enjoyed their summer break, school system technology staff were busy working to increase Internet access and networking capabilities at all schools, centers and system buildings. According to Pete Cevenini, chief of technology for CCPS, changes were made to increase the bandwidth access, which helps to support new technologies and network access at schools. “We increased our bandwidth to handle a larger caseload. We have quadrupled access for users,” he added.

The increased web capabilities allow CCPS to move forward with offering the Bring Your Own Device, or BYOD, program to students and teachers in all 36 schools. Schools that use BYOD for learning allow students and staff to use a personal device for approved instructional activities. These activities help to enhance the learning environment for students in which all have access to instruction designed around discovery, connectivity and experience. As part of the program, Internet permissions and social networking access have been customized for elementary, middle and high schools. Several schools and centers are currently participating in BYOD instructional activities.

The BYOD program isn’t the only technology initiative supported by the increased network and Internet capabilities for the school system. New to sixth graders this school year is a Discovery Education online resource called Techbook. Techbooks are web-based interactive text books that feature multi-media learning components so students can better learn how to solve real-world problems, learn about complex topics and use inquiry-based activities to reinforce literacy and critical thinking skills.

Techbooks are being piloted at all middle schools in sixth grade mathematics, science and social studies classes. “We are very excited about this pilot program and are anticipating these new resources being very engaging for students. Techbooks have the unique ability to update information each year so the ‘textbook’ is always current,” said Amy Hollstein, CCPS deputy superintendent.

Another component of this pilot program is an added bonus for teachers. All teachers using Techbook in classes this school year will soon receive a new laptop to support incorporating the content into lesson plans, student activities and assessments. All Techbooks can be accessed by any electronic device, making the content accessible by students, parents and teachers at any time.

Hollstein said Techbook teachers will receive their new laptops at an upcoming teacher training. “If the pilot is a success, we will move forward for Board approval and if the Board is in favor of adopting the textbook, we will consider the new techbook to replace existing textbooks,” Hollstein added.

Another new resource available to middle school students this year is MobyMax, a web-based instructional resource for math, science and language arts classes that provides teachers with additional tools to differentiate lesson plans and activities for students at all ability levels. MobyMax also features an advanced assessment tool that teachers can use to better identify content and skill areas in which students struggle, enabling them to personalize learning even more and targeting gaps in specific learning areas.

Middle schoolers aren’t the only students with access to new technology and enhanced instruction this year. In addition to the 26,300 students who started school on Aug. 29, a group of about 23 CCPS students opted to do so through a mix of online learning and regular classroom settings. These students enrolled in the school system’s Virtual Academy (VA), a new offering this school year for high school students.

Based out of the Robert D. Stethem Educational Center, the Academy is available for sophomores, juniors and seniors who prefer a mix of online learning with direct classroom instruction as an alternative to the traditional school setting. Students who attend the VA are required to spend five consecutive hours per day at Stethem, Monday through Thursday, and complete the same requirements as all other CCPS high school students.

The Academy employs five full-time teachers who provide face-to-face instruction and support the online learning aspect of the program in which students use Apex Learning online courses. The courses are standards-based and provide a complete course of study that integrates real-world examples to help students apply knowledge. The courses are rigorous and designed to ensure that students are successful and engaged in active learning, while developing critical thinking skills to prepare them for college and careers.

VA students must commit to complete one full school year in the program and can transfer back to their assigned high school the following year. More than 30 course offerings are available and include English, Earth and space science, biology, chemistry, financial literacy and Algebra. Applications for this school year will be accepted until Sept. 30.

Another program the school system is planning to expand this year is virtual learning for home and hospital students and others who are not physically able to attend classes. Last school year, CCPS piloted the use of a programmable robot featuring a camera, iPad and adjustable pole, and combined its use with telepresence, or distance learning, technology. The technology provides an opportunity for a student who is not physically able to be in class to virtually participate in all lessons, class discussions and course content.

The student navigates the robot by using an app on a phone, tablet or computer from their home or hospital. The robot can maneuver through school hallways and in and out of classrooms on the adjustable pole, and students at school “see” their classmate through a live video feed on the attached iPad. The goal of the program is not only to provide all students with access to the educational setting, but to also prevent a disconnect between the student and school.

Middle and high school students aren’t the only students exposed to new ways of learning this year through enhanced technology. Last Tuesday, CCPS welcomed the Class of 2030 to elementary schools across the county – prekindergarten students. During their open house events, some prekindergarten students not only met their teacher, but received an iPad for use in the classroom and at home as part of a new technology initiative geared at exposing younger learners to technology while boosting parental involvement.

Kristin Shields, director of Title I programs for CCPS, coordinated the implementation of the initiative and said the goal is to not only connect children with technology, but to support and encourage parental involvement. “Technology is an important part of children’s education at home and school. Research shows that parental and family involvement increases academic achievement. Technology is a great learning tool for children and parents to use together,” Shields said.

Parents and family members received basic iPad training so they could support use of the device at home. Parents were also encouraged to engage their child in conversations about what they were learning and work together on app activities. The iPads came preloaded with three free apps – Starfall, Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame Street, and PBS Parents Play and Learn – that focus on reading, mathematics and social skills. A committee of prekindergarten teachers and technology facilitators selected several apps for use on the iPads, which students will use at least every other week in class, and as part of activities at home with their parents and families.

All of the new initiatives and programs planned for this school year are part of Superintendent of Schools Kimberly Hill’s focus on enhancing technology access, providing students with the skills necessary for their future in a technology and digitally-driven environment and providing teachers with the best tools for using multi-faceted approaches to reach children. Hill also recognizes the users behind these new resources and emphasized the importance of a strong teacher in the classroom.

“We will continue to be relentless in looking for innovative ways to increase student achievement and close achievement gaps. Technology is an effective tool to use in the classroom, but the significance of an outstanding teacher can never be replaced by technology. iPads, smartphones, video games, robots or whatever else the next cutting edge technological device is can never replace the influence of an outstanding teacher. We understand that and value the work that our teachers do each and every day to build positive relationships with our students,” Hill said.

About CCPS

Charles County Public Schools provides 26,300 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.

The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Dr. Patricia Vaira, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Pamela K. Murphy, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.