Superintendent of Schools Kimberly Hill on July 19 announced additional administrative changes, including the appointment of an acting director of transportation and two new principals.

Bradley Snow, principal of Maurice J. McDonough High School, has been named acting director of transportation. Replacing Snow at McDonough is Steven Roberts, a vice principal from North Point High School. Additionally, Hill named Michelle Beckwith as principal of Dr. James Craik Elementary School to replace Melissa Logan, who has resigned to take a position in another state.

Snow has 16 years of experience with Charles County Public Schools (CCPS), all at McDonough. He has served as McDonough’s principal since 2011. He was named vice principal in 2006 and started at McDonough in 2000 as a health teacher. Snow replaces Michael Heim as director of transportation. Heim was recently promoted to the position of Assistant Superintendent of Supporting Services.

Roberts replaces Snow at McDonough. Last school year, Roberts was a vice principal at North Point, but also served as McDonough’s vice principal from 2011 to 2015. He started his career with CCPS in 1997 as a math teacher at Westlake High School.

Beckwith has served as a vice principal since 2011, first at Walter J. Mitchell Elementary School and later at Arthur Middleton Elementary School. She was a reading resource teacher from 2005 to 2011, serving students at Craik and Berry elementary schools. She started her career with CCPS as a third-grade teacher at Malcolm Elementary School.

Other appointments include:

  • Brad Buzby, a member of the instructional leadership team (ILT) at Eva Turner Elementary School, as vice principal at Middleton.
  • Phil Jones, an administrative assistant at Thomas Stone High School, as vice principal at Westlake.
  • Adam Todd, an instructional resource teacher at Milton M. Somers Middle School, as vice principal at William A. Diggs Elementary School.
  • Laura Hindsley, administrative assistant at Westlake, as acting vice principal at North Point High School.
  • Jaime Bowie, administrative assistant at Henry E. Lackey High School, as acting vice principal at Lackey.

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 initial draw was the promise of $600.

For five days of work, two high school students could earn money helping out on a project related to the history of Charles County and a native son who was the inspiration for the title character of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” by Harriet Beecher Stowe.

For rising high school seniors Chadeya Miller of Maurice J. McDonough and Jakob Gammons of North Point, the experience of working on an archeological dig of Josiah Henson’s birthplace garnered much more than an influx of funds.

It opened their eyes to the intricate — sometimes tedious — practice of discovering and preserving history. It also introduced them to the story of a man who was born into slavery on the La Grange property in Port Tobacco and would become a pillar of the Afro-Canadian community.

The Charles County Branch of the NAACP and other project organizers wanted to open the dig to high school students. “Education is everything,” said Janice Wilson, president of the county’s NAACP branch. “I don’t feel archeology is a really popular field for students, especially African-American students. [The project] would give them a nice experience and maybe inspire them.”

Julia King, associate professor of anthropology at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, led a team of six in a search of Josiah Henson’s birthplace. King’s expertise lies in the Chesapeake region, she’s keen on researching and studying Anglo and Indian relations. The time when Henson was alive, “Wasn’t really my period,” she said.

But gentle and persistent “badgering” by local avocational historian Mike Sullivan and project funding by Port Tobacco native, Baltimore-based Gordon Croft, sold King on the idea of finding Henson’s birthplace.

His story was another selling point. “Black history is American history,” King said. “Slavery is very much a part of American history, and we’re not going to wash it away by not talking about it. When you read his narrative; it’s just an extraordinary narrative. He is a flesh and blood hero.”

King said some historical figures are portrayed as almost God-like. “Look at [George] Washington, who was a great man. But you read about some of the things he did and you think, ‘Did this real man even exist?’”

Henson’s actions, like Washington’s and other historical figures, shaped nations. When his owner changed a deal he had with Henson to buy his freedom, Henson escaped — with his whole family — to Canada. In the North he founded a town called Dawn for escaped slaves.

“He is doing things that are helping move this machine forward as we try to form a more perfect union,” King said.

Meet the interns
When putting together the project — one that not only would uncover American history, but African American history, as well — King reached out to the NAACP and Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) wondering if they could help out. “Maybe we should get some high school kids involved,” she thought.

During the last week of the project, Miller and Gammons joined King’s team. All the students who applied had outstanding credentials, Wilson said. But Miller’s and Gammon’s edged ahead of the pack because they went “the extra mile,” Wilson said. “They left an impression.”

Miller arrived on the site having loaded up on research about Henson. She went through microfiche of Port Tobacco Times, looking at tax records and census reports. “I wanted to know a little more about him and [La Grange master] Francis Newman.”

The two spent time on the site and at the college, cataloguing finds. “We were in the lab with a collider, a bucket of water and a toothbrush,” Miller said. They would consult a book to figure out what they found. “Oh, it’s this color,” Miller said of bits of porcelain and glass. “So, this is probably what it’s from.” At the end of their time with the project, the two presented their findings and shared their experiences with an audience at St. Mary’s College. Miller put together a video (which King is nudging her to put on YouTube) and Gammons created a PowerPoint presentation.

“They were excellent,” King said of Gammons and Miller. “They hit the ground running. I feel like taking these two in front of my college students and saying, ‘See? This is how it’s done.’ They’re that good.”

Miller wants to study mechanical engineering and minor in archelogy. Bridging the two interests, she said she has an interest in designing equipment that can be used by archeologists. Gammons wants to get into law enforcement. King said she sees the similarities between the law and archeology.

“I can see it … law enforcement, forensics,” she said. “We’re looking for clues at a site, asking ‘What went on here?’”

Gammons, who is in North Point’s criminal justice program, has an interest in history. Never taken part in an archeological dig, he figured it would be a good way to learn more. At first, the project seemed massive. “It was a little daunting when I got there. But we took it area by area.” Now, Gammons is thinking about minoring in African-American history in college.

What’s next
Henson’s story was told by the man himself in “The Life of Josiah Henson, Formerly a Slave, Now an Inhabitant of Canada, as Narrated by Himself,” published in 1849. The narrative inspired Stowe’s novel.

Ultimately, King would like to see a historical marker placed at La Grange recognizing it as Henson’s birthplace. Gammons filled out the marker application. “You have to demonstrate state significance,” King said. “Henson is of national significance.” Wilson wants Henson’s story discussed in the county’s history and social studies classrooms.

King said Henson and his story are part of the fabric of Canada and it is time for Charles County to recognize his place in local history. Wilson agrees.

“It’s a source of pride for African-Americans,” she said. “He is such an important person who actually left his footprints in Charles County.”

To those who argue Henson left La Grange when he was 8, King points out Stratford Hall, the birthplace of Robert E. Lee, is a national landmark and Lee spent less than his first four years there. Washington’s birthplace, Popes Creek Planation, is a national park. He moved from the home when he was three.

“It is time for Henson to take his place in the pantheon of our national heroes,” King said.

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 has released its open house schedule for the 2016-­17 school year. Listed below are open house dates and times, and other activities for schools.

Elementary Schools

  • Paul Barnhart, open house, Sept. 7, 6 to 8 p.m.;
  • Berry, open house, Sept. 8, 6 to 8 p.m.;
  • Gustavus Brown, open house, Sept. 8, 5 to 6:30 p.m.;
  • James Craik, back-to-school night, Sept. 8, 6 to 7:30 p.m.;
  • William A. Diggs, open house for prekindergarten through grade 2, Sept. 7, 6 to 7:30 p.m., and open house for grades 3-5, Sept. 8, 6 to 7:30 p.m.;
  • Gale-Bailey, open house, Sept. 8, 6 to 7 p.m.;
  • Thomas L. Higdon, open house, Sept. 8, 6 to 7:30 p.m.;
  • Indian Head, open house, Sept. 8, 6:30 to 8 p.m.;
  • Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer, open house, Sept. 7, prekindergarten through grade 2, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., and open house for grades 3-5, Sept. 8, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.;
  • Malcolm, open house, Sept. 8, 6 to 7:30 p.m.;
  • C. Martin, open house for prekindergarten through grade 2, Sept. 6, 6 to 7 p.m.; and open house for grades 3-5, Sept. 6, 7:15 to 8:15 p.m.;
  • Mary H. Matula, open house, Sept. 7, 6 to 7:30 p.m.;
  • Arthur Middleton, open house, Sept. 7, 6 to 7:30 p.m.;
  • Walter J. Mitchell, open house, Sept. 8, 6 p.m. for prekindergarten through grade 2, and 7 p.m. for grades 3-5;
  • Hope/Nanjemoy, open house, Sept. 8, 6:30 to 8 p.m.;
  • Samuel A. Mudd, open house, Sept. 8, 6:30 to 8 p.m.;
  • Mary B. Neal, open house, Sept. 7, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.;
  • C. Parks, open house for prekindergarten and kindergarten, Sept. 6, 6 to 7 p.m.; grades 1-2, Sept. 6, 7:15 to 8:15 p.m.; and grades 3-5, Sept. 8, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.;
  • P. Ryon, open house for Three’s program through grade 2, Sept. 7, 6 to 7:30 p.m.; open house for grades 3-5, Sept. 8, 6 to 7:30 p.m.;
  • Eva Turner, back-to-school open house, Sept. 27, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.; and
  • William B. Wade, open house for prekindergarten through grade 2, Aug. 31, 6 to 7 p.m.; and open house for grades 3-5, Sept. 1, 6 to 7 p.m.

Middle Schools

  • Theodore G. Davis, open house, Sept. 15, 6 to 8 p.m.;
  • John Hanson, open house, Sept. 14, 6 to 8 p.m.;
  • Matthew Henson, open house, Sept. 15, 6 to 8 p.m.;
  • Mattawoman, open house, Sept. 15, 6 to 8 p.m.;
  • Piccowaxen, open house, Sept. 15, 6 to 7:30 p.m.;
  • General Smallwood, open house, Sept. 15, 6 to 8 p.m.;
  • Milton M. Somers, Family at School Night: Meet the Teachers, Sept. 14, 6 to 8 p.m.; and
  • Benjamin Stoddert, open house, Sept. 29, 6 to 8 p.m.

High Schools

  • Henry E. Lackey, open house, Sept. 26, 6 to 7:30 p.m.;
  • La Plata, open house, Sept. 28, 6 to 8 p.m.;
  • Maurice J. McDonough, open house, Sept. 20, 6 p.m.;
  • North Point, open house, Sept. 22, 6:30 p.m.;
  • Charles, open house, Sept. 20, 6:30 p.m.;
  • Thomas Stone, open house, Sept. 22, 6:30 to 8 p.m.; and
  • Westlake, open house, Sept. 21, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Centers

  • Robert D. Stethem Educational Center, career and technology education meet and greet, Sept. 29, 6 to 7 p.m.

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 has released its student orientation schedule for the 2016-17 school year. Listed below are orientation dates and times, and other activities for schools. Specific questions should be directed to individual schools.

Elementary Schools

  • C. Paul Barnhart, meet and greet, Aug. 25, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.;
  • Berry, meet and greet, Aug. 24, 2 to 4 p.m.;
  • Dr. Gustavus Brown, meet and greet, Aug. 25, 2:30 to 4 p.m.;
  • Dr. James Craik, meet and greet, Aug. 25, 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.;
  • William A. Diggs, meet and greet, Aug. 25, 9:30 to 11 a.m.;
  • Gale-Bailey, kindergarten meet and greet, Aug. 25, 9 to 11 a.m.; meet and greet all students, Aug. 25, 10 to 11 a.m.;
  • Dr. Thomas L. Higdon, meet and greet, Aug. 25, 9:30 to 11 a.m.;
  • Indian Head, meet and greet, Aug. 25, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.; prekindergarten orientation, Sept. 2, 10 to 11 a.m.; and Three’s program orientation, Sept. 2, 2 to 3 p.m.
  • Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer, meet and greet, Aug. 25, 10:15 to 11:30 a.m.;
  • Malcolm, kindergarten orientation, Aug. 25, 10 to 10:30 a.m.; and meet and greet, grades 1-5, Aug. 25, 10 to 11 a.m.;
  • T.C. Martin, meet and greet, Aug. 25, 10 to 11 a.m.;
  • Mary H. Matula, meet and greet, Aug. 25, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.;
  • Arthur Middleton, meet and greet, Aug. 24, 2 to 4 p.m.;
  • Walter J. Mitchell, meet and greet/all grades invited, Aug. 25, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.;
  • Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy, kindergarten and new student orientation, Aug. 24, 1 to 1:30 p.m.; and community drop-in grades 1-5, Aug. 24, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.;
  • Dr. Samuel A. Mudd, meet and greet, Aug. 24, 2 to 4 p.m.;
  • Mary B. Neal, meet and greet, Aug. 25, 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.;
  • J.C. Parks, meet and greet, Aug. 25, 10 to 10:45 a.m.;
  • J.P. Ryon, meet and greet, Aug. 25, 10 to 11 a.m.;
  • Eva Turner, back-to-school meet and greet, Aug. 25, 3 to 5 p.m.; and
  • William B. Wade, new student orientation, Aug. 24, 1 to 2 p.m.; Greet your Seat for kindergarten, Aug. 25, 9 to 10 a.m.; and Greet your Seat for grades 1-5, Aug. 25, 10 to 11 a.m.

Middle Schools

  • Theodore G. Davis, new student orientation, Aug. 24, 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.;
  • John Hanson, sixth grade welcome, Aug. 25, 3 to 5 p.m.;
  • Matthew Henson, sixth grade orientation, Aug. 24, 3 to 5 p.m.;
  • Mattawoman, new student orientation, Aug. 23, 2 to 4 p.m.;
  • Piccowaxen, incoming sixth graders/students new to Piccowaxen, Aug. 23, 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.;
  • General Smallwood, new student orientation, Aug. 25, 3:30 to 5 p.m.;
  • Milton M. Somers, incoming sixth grade and new student orientation, Aug. 24, 2 to 4 p.m.; and
  • Benjamin Stoddert, sixth grade and new student orientation, Aug. 24, 3:30 to 6 p.m.

High Schools

  • Henry E. Lackey, freshmen and new student drop-in, Aug. 23, 3:30 to 5 p.m.;
  • La Plata, new students and freshmen, Aug. 24, 6 to 8 p.m.;
  • Maurice J. McDonough, orientation, Aug. 25, 6 to 8 p.m.;
  • North Point, freshmen/new student orientation, Aug. 24, 6:30 p.m.;
  • St. Charles, new student orientation, Aug. 25, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.;
  • Thomas Stone, new student orientation, Aug. 25, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.; and
  • Westlake, new student orientation, Aug. 23, 5 to 6:30 p.m. 

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.

La Plata High School housed a general store, a veterinarian who offers pet adoptions, a photography studio, ice cream shop, pizza parlor and hair salon this week during Camp Co-Op’s Community Fair. There also was a movie theater, gardening center and volunteer fire department.

“Some of these kids don’t go out into the community,” said camp director Richard Kelly, who has been working at the camp for 24 years and has been director for 23 of them. “So we bring the community to them.”

Camp Co-Op has been held for about 40 years, Marilyn Borrell, program manager for 35 years, said. The six-week camp — a cooperation between Charles County Public Schools and the county’s Department of Community Services — is open to people six to 21 who have special needs including autism, Down’s syndrome, cerebral palsy and other disabilities, she said. Borrell got involved about 35 years ago when her late daughter, Emily, who had Down’s, was a camper. The camp has become a big part of the Borrell family’s life. Borrell’s daughter, Rebecca Voltz, of Virginia Beach starting volunteering when she was in third grade.

Her children — Christopher, twins Kaitlyn and Michaela, and Matt —have been tagging along since they were babies and starting helping out as soon as they were able. During the fair, the twins manned stations where campers could visit and Matt spent most of the time palling around with a new buddy, camper Brandon Williams.

The camp runs for six weeks. Some sign up for all six, others pick how many sessions they want to attend. Each week has a theme — In the Kitchen, Maryland Week, Carnival, Community — and each Thursday a culminating event takes place with family and friends invited to attend.

The rest of the days are filled with camp activities like swimming and field trips to go to a trampoline park, bowling, ball games, fishing and the movies.

Nathan Penn II, a J.C. Parks Elementary School fifth grader, said the Flight Trampoline Park has been the highlight of camp so far. “It was so much fun,” he said. “The field trips are really fun. You get to do something you like to do.”

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. 

A recent morning during Summer Youth Camp at Henry E. Lackey High School, the gym is divided — floor hockey is played on one side; soccer on the other. And it’s not regular hockey. Everyone — at least 20 kids, plastic sticks in hand with blades the color of Popsicles — take over the floor, two balls in place of pucks are used and when one is smacked into the hallway, it’s apparently still in play. On the soccer side of the gym, counselors show off fancy foot skills before their much younger charges are able to steal the ball away and easily score a goal.

Nothing makes sense, but everyone seems to know the rules. It’s summer camp, where things are relaxed, the director is wearing an oversize sombrero and a camper’s toughest choice is whether they’re going to play pingpong or Connect Four.

Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) has held a summer camp for more than 20 years. Before the program was moved to Lackey, it was held at the College of Southern Maryland, said Don Layton, the camp coordinator who is in charge of Lackey’s aquatics department. Children in second grade up to the age of 13 can sign up for all four weeks of camp or can pick and choose the weeks they want to enroll, said Marty Margolis, camp director and physical education teacher at Walter J. Mitchell Elementary School. He is the one wearing the sombrero, along with mismatched socks pulled up to his knees, because July 11 to 15 is Spirit Week at the camp.

Running four weeks from June 20 to July 12, the camp specializes in fun. There is touch football, basketball, swimming, arts and crafts, whiffle ball and other games. Counselors — high school and college students — are more than likely former participants of the camp who have signed up to work it or volunteer.

“Mr. Layton and Mr. Margolis taught me how to expand my character,” said Caleb Christian, a North Point High School junior who attended camp for four years before returning to volunteer to help for the past four years. “You meet new people. And as a counselor, I try to play every sport so I know what I’m doing. It’s a good atmosphere and a good camp,” Christian said.

“It’s something to do during the summer instead of sitting around and watching TV,” said Grace Klaas, a fifth grader at Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy Elementary School, who counts swimming as her favorite camp activity. “And all of the counselors are really nice.”

Landon Smith, a third grader at Theodore G. Diggs Elementary School, likes working on arts and crafts at camp and “It let’s me try out all kinds of sports,” he said.

Will Davis, a junior at North Point, has been a counselor for the past two summers. “It’s a good thing to do,” he said. “We’re helping out with the kids and making sure they’re having a fun summer.”

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. 

Just because almost everyone in the country carries a miniature computer in their pocket thanks to the prevalence of smartphones, it doesn’t mean the majority of operators know the science behind the gadgets.

“The U.S. is starting to get a little bit behind,” said Dianne O’Grady-Cunniff, an instructional specialist for computer science and technology education with Charles County Public Schools (CCPS). “We can not just be users, but creators of technology.”

O’Grady-Cunniff, along with a handful of educators from around the country, recently met with congressional staffers on Capitol Hill to discuss the importance of computer science and the need for national financial support to bring courses to the country’s classrooms.

Justin Brower with U.S. Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger’s (D-Md., 2nd) office and Jamie DeAtley of U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer’s (D-Md., 5th) team met with O’Grady-Cunniff and educators from Illinois, California, New York, Tennessee, Washington, D.C., New Hampshire and Pennsylvania to get feedback and opinions from teachers about computer science. The group also briefly met John B. King, Jr., U.S. secretary of education.

The push for computer science has two prongs, O’Grady-Cunniff said.

The first is about equity. Presently, it is only a privileged few who have easy access to computer science lessons. By bringing it to more people — from various backgrounds —the pool of potential operators deepens. “By providing access, you can find the people who are good at it,” O’Grady-Cunniff said.

The second part of making computer science a must-take subject is it will lead to the development of homegrown experts. Those who will ensure the binary highways of the country are safe and secure without having to rely on other countries to provide cybersecurity.

CCPS has trained more than 300 teachers to teach computer science — educators who are art teachers, those who teach English or engineering. “They’re learning along with the kids,” O’Grady-Cunniff said.

“It’s working,” she said, adding that a few years ago when the idea of teaching computer science to children in elementary through high school was brought to Kimberly Hill, superintendent of schools, it was a met with excitement.

“Dr. Hill let us leap into the pool,” O’Grady-Cunniff said. “We had to see if we can swim. And we’re not treading water. We’re swimming.”

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.

Studying early childhood education was going to be a breeze, Jewel Washington thought. In eighth grade, when she was applied to attend North Point High School, she figured the early childhood education program would be pretty easy. She thought wrong.

“I didn’t expect it to be so much work,” said Washington, who recently earned a silver medal and placed in the Top 10 at the 51st annual National Leadership and Skills Conference in Louisville, Ky. “I didn’t have an understanding or appreciation for teachers that I do now.”

Self-described as having an “abnormal level of energy” coupled with a love of young children, Washington blossomed in the program. “It changed me,” she said. “I did a lot of maturing.”

The early childhood education program really kicks in sophomore year with getting to know the classroom. During a student’s junior and senior years, the focus turns to writing lesson plans, Washington said. During junior year, the plans are overseen by instructors, but by 12th grade students are expected to be able to handle a classroom on their own if the lead teacher steps out.

Melissa Palmer, one of two education careers program instructors at North Point along with Nicolette Kirby, said Washington is a natural in the classroom. “Jewel has an intuitive nature to understand children,” Palmer said. “Not only where they are developmentally, but their social and emotional strengths. She’s in tune with young children.”

Leading a classroom, Washington had to decide what type of teacher she wanted to be. Pushover? Task master? “Being a pushover might be fun for the children,” she said. “But it’s not going to help them in the long run. You have to find the balance and have a well managed classroom in order for everything to run smoothly.” Once the students have a level of respect for the teacher, “Then you can show the other sides of yourself,” Washington said. “Your emotional side, your fun side.”

Washington placing in the Top 10 in early childhood education at the conference wasn’t stunning for Palmer. “Her winning didn’t come as a surprise,” Palmer said. “Jewel is capable of winning. But it is a huge honor. She’s outstanding.”

Washington will head to the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Va., this fall where she plans to study early childhood education and psychology. She would like to see a bigger push for a social and emotional tie between teachers and students. “A teacher should foster a lifelong love of learning,” she said. “Teaching isn’t as simple as it looks. People think it’s easy to teach kids how to color inside the lines, but there are so many moments that you have when you teach and when you sit and reflect on it, it goes deeper. Not just for the children, but you as well.”

Maryland students brought home 23 medals from the conference that featured 87 career and technical competitions. SkillsUSA Maryland has a membership of 5,000 high school students statewide.

In addition to Washington, North Point students Elizabeth Lopez and Fiona Quenano placed fifth in the American Spirit category which promotes community service, patriotism and citizenship. Alyssa Rabasco of the Robert D. Stethem Educational Center placed eighth in the employment application process.

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.

 

A baseball player can spot a kindred spirit even among more than 70 middle school students scattered around the grounds of Regency Furniture Stadium.

On the opening day of Badges for Baseball, a three-day long camp that focuses on baseball skills while reiterating the importance of sportsmanship and teamwork, Southern Maryland Blue Crabs hitting coach Jake Opitz led practice in the batting cages.

Each hitter gets six pitches. After Mattawoman Middle School seventh grader Cameron Coffey solidly connected with the first two, Opitz asked, “You play baseball?”

“Yeah,” Coffey replied. “You should,” Opitz answered. Then Bryce Djossou, a seventh grader at Theodore G. Davis Middle School, was up. His swings signaled summers time spent on Little League diamonds. “You play too, don’t you?” Opitz asked, earning a nod to the all-business Djossou.

Badges for Baseball has been hosted in the county for six years, said Charles County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Bill Welch, a school resource officer with Charles County Public Schools (CCPS). He was the early coordinator of the program; now Cpl. Mike DePaulo oversees it.

“There’s a structure in sports that leads to structure in [a student’s] studies and vice versa,” DePaulo said. “At camp, they focus on their own abilities, but also rely on teamwork. They realize they can’t do it all on their own.” That realization can trickle down to the way students view school, as well, he said. A student isn’t on his own — there are teachers, tutors and peers that can help out when things get tough.

The camp is free for county residents between the ages of 10 to 13 and is hosted by the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation, Diamond Dreams Baseball Academy, the sheriff’s office, CCPS and other organizations. It offers a camp-like experience to some kids who may not have the opportunity to have one, introduces novices to the game and allows those who aren’t so new to work on their skills, Welch said.

With some members of the Blue Crabs manning various stations — in addition to the cages, there was a stop to practice pitching, fielding and base running, among other need-to-know basics — additional support came from former Baltimore Orioles centerfielder Al Bumbry and former Washington Senator and Oriole outfielder Fred Valentine and others who are members of Diamond Dreams, said Joe Walsh, first base coach for the Blue Crabs, who is on the board of directors of Diamond Dreams.

The first two days of camp is spent developing and improving skills; the final day will be full of tournament games, DePaulo said. When the kids aren’t playing on the field, they will bide time at a games trailer, the stadium’s playground and on the bumper boats. Campers are glad they signed up for Badges for Baseball.

“One of the police officers at my school said I should try new things,” said Gabriela Rodriguez, a seventh grader at Davis. “So I signed up and I’m having fun.” Nolan Wingfield, also a Davis seventh grader, isn’t a baseball player, although the professional players at the camp suggested he has a talent for it that should be developed. It’s Wingfield’s second year taking part in Badges for Baseball. “It’s fun,” he said. “And you learn things.”

Hailey Carroll is a veteran softball player. “It sort of runs in the family,” said the John Hanson Middle School seventh grader, adding that her father introduced her to the game. It’s her first year at camp, where her batting skills impressed Opitz. “This is a chance to learn more and have some fun this summer spent with friends,” she said.

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.

Even among the fourth- to sixth-grade set, summer brain drain is a concern.

“When you stay home and you’re not active your mind is not as sharp,” said Gabriel Tellez, who will start sixth grade at Theodore G. Davis Middle School in August. “You could forget what you learned,” Kaelan Perkin, who will join his friend Tellez at Davis at the start of the school year, chimed in.

To ensure their brains are engaged and taking in new information, the boys signed up for the Polar Explorer camp held at the James E. Richmond Science Center at St. Charles High School. Running from June 27 to July 1, the camp focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) lessons but with a chilly twist.

“It’s different and fun,” Patrick Rowley, technology facilitator at the center, said. “You’re learning something, but it doesn’t seem like school.” At camp, time slows down to a relaxed pace. “They can take all the time in the day to learn and explore,” Rowley added.

During the weeklong camp the students will go on an “Arctic mission,” Rowley said. They will learn how animals in cold climates have adapted by wearing a “blubber glove” — submerging one gloved arm in ice water, while the other arm will be dunked gloveless. They learn about icebergs using the vastly scaled down version — ice cubes. Another activity will focus on glacial movement and how it affects the landscape and environment.

On a recent day, the students discussed various vehicles used in the Arctic, those used on land and sea. Isaiah Diggs and Terrell Pullen, an incoming seventh grader to Mattawoman and sixth grader at Milton M. Somers middle schools respectively, studied skidoos that travel over snow and ice. They’re not unlike jet skis, Diggs said.

Additional vehicles talked about were “Ivan the Terra Bus,” which is a passenger carrier and a Hagglunds, another people mover that can float if it happens to break through ocean ice. After talking about the various modes of transportation that could get them around the Arctic landscape, the campers delved into building their own robots using kits.

For a generation familiar with the movies “Frozen” and “Happy Feet,” the Arctic isn’t an icy wasteland to be avoided, it’s a fertile environment waiting to be explored. “My mom wanted me to go to science camp,” said Nia Gatling, who will begin sixth grade at Mattawoman. “I wanted to learn about the polar region because I like the cold and I wanted to learn more about the animals. I love polar bears.”

For more information on summer programs offered by the school system, go to http://bit.ly/28Xjaln.

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.