At Dr. James Craik Elementary School, when it is time for some students to be pulled out of class and head to see teacher Dana Moyer, things are about to get interesting. Moyer is the school’s learning resource teacher and when students are in her class, “It’s going to be loud and it’s going to be engaging,” she said.
“We do a lot of fun things,” said Ava Rowledge, a fourth grader who has been in the gifted and talented program since second grade. “I like to read the stories,” Christian Pemberton, a fourth grader, added. “I think the stories are amazing.”
“Ms. Moyer’s work is fun,” fifth grade student Taylor Kidwell said. “And you get to talk for more than half of the time.”
Students work on projects like brochures or posters to enhance lessons and they get into debates and discussions about the stories they read. “They develop better communication skills and they’re not afraid of wrong answers. They are open to the right ones,” Moyer said.
Moyer was a classroom teacher at Craik for 13 years before teaching gifted and talented students at Dr. Thomas L. Higdon, Malcolm, Dr. Gustavas Brown, Mary B. Neal, Mary H. Matula and Indian Head elementary schools. Working with gifted and talented students — Moyer sees about 10 to 12 students per grade once a week — is rewarding.
“They’re so capable,” Moyer said. “They can go beyond — way above grade level into these rich texts they read which leads to discussions.”
Joseph Perriello has 37 years of experience as a teacher. He taught math at Benjamin Stoddert and Mattawoman Middle Schools. In 2002, looking for a change, he started as a gifted instructor, teaching at Berry and Brown elementary schools before landing at William B. Wade Elementary School. He said a typical gifted student is one who “needs a little more.”
“They’re kids who would be bored [otherwise],” he said. “They like the challenge, they like moving on and having discussions, using higher level thinking.”
One of his students, fifth grader Zoe Wheeler, is working on seventh-grade math. “It’s a challenge compared to my regular schoolwork. I get to think more,” she said. While math is her favorite subject — “There’s usually one right answer,” she said — she is also a strong writer and enjoys reading.
Students are placed in gifted and talented programs based on test scores and parent and teacher recommendations. Gifted teachers also work with students who are advanced in certain subjects.
The gifted and talented programs at Craik and Wade each earned a 2016 Excellence in Gifted and Talented Education (EGATE) School award from the Maryland State Department of Education. EGATE awards are given to schools whose programs are in line with the state’s criteria for gifted and talented education. It honors elementary, middle and high schools that focus on excellence and improving student achievement.
Schools submit detailed information outlining their programs and are eligible to receive the award every five years. Craik and Wade are past winners, having been named EGATE schools in 2011. T.C. Martin Elementary School received the honor in 2012. An awards ceremony will be Feb. 16 at North County High School in Glen Burnie, where 10 Maryland schools will receive an EGATE award. Outstanding Charles County teachers and students also will take home awards.
The following Charles County teachers and administrators will be recognized at the awards ceremony:
- Debra Calvert, principal, William A. Diggs Elementary School;
- Dana Moyer, learning resource teacher, Craik;
- Joseph Perriello, learning resource teacher, Wade; and
- Lynn Hopkins, reading, English and language arts teacher, Milton M. Somers Middle School.
The following Charles County students will be recognized at the awards ceremony:
- Brandy Freundel, fifth grade, Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy Elementary School;
- Christian Gomez, eighth grade, Somers;
- Grace Klaas, fifth grade, Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy;
- Alexandra Merchant, fifth grade, Higdon;
- Jashae Proctor, fifth grade, Craik;
- Zahra Ramakdawala, fifth grade, Diggs;
- Faith Rothell, fifth grade, Gale-Bailey Elementary School;
- Ava Rowledge, fourth grade, Craik;
- Zoe Wheeler, fifth grade, Wade; and
- MacKenna Zopelis, fifth grade, Martin.
Charles County Public Schools provides 26,400 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.