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Board honors outstanding CCPS employees at April 16 meeting  

The Board of Education each month honors outstanding staff members for their contributions to education. During the April 16 Board meeting, five Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) employees were honored including Mandi Blades, a first-grade teacher at Indian Head Elementary School; Duania Darby, a social studies teacher at Theodore G. Davis Middle School; Agnes Hindle, a math interventionist instructional assistant at Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy Elementary School; Melinda Jackowski, a reading resource teacher at Billingsley Elementary School; and Tina Laury, a pupil personal worker at Westlake High School.

Blades has been a first-grade teacher at Indian Head for five years and an inclusion teacher for the past four. “She is one of the hardest working teachers I’ve have ever met,” Indian Head Principal Shane Blandford said. “Her work ethic is noteworthy, and she takes extreme pride in her teaching, her students and her relationships with the school community.” Blades is fair and patient with her students and is the school’s resident expert on how to differentiate instruction. Blades has been the first-grade team leader for the past four years and works closely with first-year teachers on her team to support their instruction and acclimate them to the profession. She supports the school’s family activities and events such as serving as the coordinator of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), and is an active participant in school clubs, block parties and scooter soccer. “The love and patience that she has for her students is beyond commendable,” Blandford said. “She comes to work every day with a positive attitude to tackle whatever comes her way.”

With 38 years of experience in education, Darby leads by example. A social studies teacher at Davis, Darby foregoes her lunch every day to spend time with students in the cafeteria. “Her presence daily helps establish leadership in the sixth-grade wing,” Davis Principal Robert Griffiths said. Her ability to build relationships with her students and staff have led to her earning accolades throughout her career and she has held the title of “Flying Falcon,” the Davis Teacher of the Month honor at Davis on many occasions. Darby mentors middle school teachers from other CCPS middle schools and volunteers at CCPS events, such as the History, Industry, Technology and Science (HITS) Expo and develops and leads professional learning for colleagues in social studies. “Her expectation for her co-workers is that they are well-planned, on duty and contributing to the excellence of students,” Griffiths said. “She models this day in and day out.” Darby tags in where she’s needed, giving up her planning period when a co-worker was out for an extended period to cover their class and volunteering to attend school events when she’s needed. Outside of school she’s a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., a tutor for the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc., and active with her church.

Hindle started as a long-term substitute teacher at Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy in 2008 before becoming an instructional assistant (IA) in a second-grade classroom. She is now a math interventionist IA, and “by far one of our most reliable and supportive staff members,” Mt. Hope Principal Mike Hoffman said. Hindle is an employee who gets to work before everyone else and leaves after everyone else. “She attends every afterschool function,” Hoffman said. Hindle tutors almost every day, makes sure students get on and off buses safely, and sets aside her breaks to work with students who need extra support on their schoolwork. She attends professional learning opportunities that are not required of her, however she wants to continue to learn and to better help her students. Hindle co-leads the girl empowerment club Diamond Girls and volunteers with afterschool clubs. She volunteers with the school’s PBIS, reading and math committees and sells candy and spirit sticks for school fundraisers. Outside of school, Hindle supports veterans’ and local senior citizens organizations, and volunteers with the Lion’s Club and the American Legion. “There is truly nothing Mrs. Hindle does not do for our schools and communities,” Hoffman said. “She is an active leader and contributor in every capacity, dedicated and professional without fail.” 

Jackowski has been at Billingsley since it opened in 2019. “She is a crucial part of the instructional leadership team and to our educational environment,” Billingsley Principal Sabrina Robinson-Taylor said. Jackowski dedicates time to all grade levels, ensuring students receive small group and whole class reading every day. She recently split her time working between Billingsley and J.P. Ryon Elementary School, but she maintains the same energy and dedication at both schools. Robinson-Taylor can attest that at Billingsley, Jackowski plans for American Education Week and Read Across Charles County Day. A highlight Billingsley Bobcats look forward to is Drop Everything and Read, an activity where students can stop what they are doing, chill out and read a book. “Mrs. Jackowski fosters a love of reading, one Bobcat at a time,” Robinson-Taylor said. Jackowski also supports the school’s math nights as well and helps the fourth and fifth grade math teams compete in the Elementary Math Challenge. She is the school’s PR liaison keeping families up to date on what’s happening at school via social media and the school’s website and she’s currently organizing the school’s second annual spelling bee.

At Westlake, Laury is affectionately known as “Too Nice Tina,” a pupil personnel worker who has never met a stranger. “Ms. Laury is able to calmly take control and fix every situation,” Westlake Principal Dana Fenwick said. “She has a way of making students and parents feel comfortable at Westlake. She is a true advocate for students, even in uncomfortable and tense situations.” Laury is the lead sponsor for the school’s Mighty Men of Westlake and the Wonderful Women of Westlake. She is the founder of the Girls Closet — a place where students can go get clothes if needed and she assists with an at-school food pantry where students can grab items to eat over the weekend. “Ms. Laury’s car is often one of the last cars in the parking lot. She will stay each day until all her tasks are complete,” Fenwick said. “She will open the doors to the school and answer the phone well after 6 p.m. We must make her leave the building because she wants to help.” Laury is well known not just among Westlake staff, students and families, but those at C. Paul Barnhart and J.C. Parks elementary schools, as well. Outside of work, she oversees the audio and sound ministry at her church, makes weekly announcements and works the sound board during church services.

About CCPS

Charles County Public Schools provides 27,765 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 38 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 Kathy Kiessling, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Nikial M. Majors, 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.

CCPS provides nondiscriminatory equal access to school facilities in accordance with its Use of Facilities rules to designated youth groups (including, but not limited to, the Boy Scouts).