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Board honors outstanding employees at February meeting

The Board of Education of Charles County at its Feb. 8 meeting honored six Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) staff members for their commitment to the school system and student success. Each month, the Board honors staff members chosen by their school principals for recognition who demonstrate their dedication to teaching and learning.

Honored by the Board at its February meeting were Michele Bell of Billingsley Elementary School; Sarah Fleck of Indian Head Elementary School; Carllisa Jordan of Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy Elementary School; Adano Murray of Westlake High School; Barry Myles of Theodore G. Davis Middle School; and Chelsea Pogar of the F.B. Gwynn Educational Center.

Bell is a special education teacher at Billingsley, where she has been the special education team leader for three years. Her dedication to education and Billingsley shows in how she serves the community. She does more than attend Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) meetings and provide math, reading and behavioral supports to students. “While she may be responsible for approximately 15 students in her caseload, 680 students know her name,” Principal Sabrina Robinson-Taylor said. Bell is in and out of classrooms each day and is on the sidelines of games in the evenings and weekends — always supporting and cheering on students. “She is the unofficial mentor to dozens of students who need extra support,” Robinson-Taylor said. “She boosts the self-esteem of many students.” Bell not only supports students, but she also steps in to support their families, as well. She helps parents make eye appointments and has delivered work packets to students who are home sick or absent. A strong student advocate, “Mrs. Bell accepts no excuses and finds a way to help make children successful,” Robinson-Taylor said. Bell makes sure her coworkers know she cares for them too. She is Billingsley’s social committee chairwoman who makes work life fun and boosts staff morale.

As the reading resource teacher at Indian Head, Fleck coordinates the intervention schedule at the school, which can be a juggling act. She reviews data and assigns students to interventions, matching the interventionalist to the student while keeping in mind their daily schedules. Fleck works with school staff and Title I tutors, and provides training for them on interventions. “Sarah also meets with teachers, especially new teachers on a regular basis to help them with planning and navigating the curriculum,” Principal Shane Blandford said. Fleck taught second grade for nine years before becoming a reading resource teacher at Indian Head in 2016. Blandford has worked with Fleck for four years at the school. “In my four years working with her, I can attest that she has demonstrated excellence in the position and is an asset to CCPS,” Blandford said. Fleck participates in professional development (PD) and recently completed a PD that allowed her to work closely with teachers, especially newer staff members. While she has experience in reading instruction, Fleck continues to strengthen her skills and is preparing to go through training for Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS). At Indian Head, Fleck runs the Extended Learning Opportunity (ELO) program and team meetings, provides professional development for staff and plans reading nights for parents. “Sarah works hard to get the job done,” Blandford said. “Her contribution to our school community is invaluable. She provides so much support for our teachers, which in turn directly affects our students.”

Jordan is an instructional assistant (IA) at Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy who motivates students to do their best. She works with students independently to ensure they grasp strategies and concepts that will help them academically. Jordan’s expertise in math instruction helps her adjust to a teacher’s lessons while she picks up changing curriculum and new strategies. “Ms. Jordan contributes to Mt. Hope daily and is an essential part of our school,” Principal Mike Hoffman said. “She not only is a true leader in our school, but someone who demonstrates much care for our students and staff.” Jordan is active in her church and works with people who are elderly in the community. This dedication to service continues at the school where Jordan takes time to ensure students basic needs are met, as well as their academic needs. “Her daily life is all about helping others and her work ethic is outstanding,” Hoffman said. “Mt. Hope is a wonderful place of learning, in part, because of Ms. Jordan’s generosity of her time and daily efforts.”

At Westlake where he’s a special education IA, Murray works with students who struggle with the curriculum. He also co-teaches various subjects with different teachers. His willingness to assist others allows him to interact with students of different backgrounds and build relationships. He is reliable, Principal Diane Roberts said. “We can count on him to perform each of his duties from providing supervision in the hallways or lunch areas to working with small groups of students to understand a concept,” she said. “He provides stability and consistency to students.” The school day doesn’t end at 2:15 p.m. for Murray. He volunteers with several mentoring groups and was a crucial member of the school’s Achieving Academic Equity and Excellence for Black Boys initiative. Murray coaches a sport each season — football in the fall, indoor track in the winter and outdoor track in the spring. Murray participates in professional development opportunities at Westlake and CCPS, and he is among the first to jump in and take part in a new initiative or program. “He is always looking for new ways to grow,” Roberts said. “He leads by example. He has such a calming energy and solid rapport with our school community that many times, he doesn’t have to say a word.” Murray can convey his thoughts with a look that students understand. Although he is known for running a tight ship, Murray is fair and genuinely cares. “Our students know they can depend on him,” Roberts said. “He is an ever-present driving force in the lives of so many in the Westlake community.”

At the start of the 2021-22 school year, Myles took on a new role at Davis. After teaching in a self-contained classroom in the hybrid/virtual setting, Myles asked to teach in the Emotional Adjustment (EA) program. As a special education teacher, Myles does not disappoint, Principal Robert Griffiths said. “He has brought a sense of stability and serenity to the ‘new look’ of the EA department at Davis Middle School,” Griffiths said. Myles takes on challenges and strives to build relationships with students. “He is the adult that most kids in crisis want to see when they need an adult the most,” Griffiths said. Myles brings a sense of calm to his department and as a member of the Davis staff, Myles leads by example and quietly brings people he is around to his positive message. Staff members naturally find themselves working up to his level in part because Myles models what it takes to be excellent in a leadership role. Outside of school, Myles is devoted to his family and describes himself as a “family man.” That commitment is also felt by those at work. “The Davis family has felt his same dedication,” Griffiths said. “His dedication to the students of Davis does not go unnoticed as his parents always speak his praises.”

Pogar has led many initiatives with the Infants & Toddlers program at F.B. Gwynn Educational Center. Among leading and completing various trainings, Pogar also started the program’s Facebook page to inform parents about community resources, developmental milestones and ideas that promote development at home. When staff had to teach virtually due to COVID-19, Pogar trained coworkers on how to best use technology. She helped staff members develop better technology skills and created training videos for families on how to access virtual classes. Pogar has been in special education for a decade, with all 10 years spent working in the Charles County Infants & Toddlers program. “She has a high-energy style that keeps parents and children engaged in learning,” Principal Daphne Burns said. “She goes above and beyond to meet family needs and to come up with creative strategies to help children with disabilities learn new skills.” Pogar has a master’s degree in special education and is working toward her autism studies certificate through Towson University. Pogar’s “can-do attitude” means she takes initiative when it comes to training and team building. “She helps plan and promote team building activities such as camping trips, holiday events and fun afterschool events,” Burns said. Pogar’s work has been recognized many times with Special Education Citizen’s Advisory Council (SECAC) awards and is a member of the center’s Relay for Life team and participates in the Special Olympics Torch Run.

About CCPS

Charles County Public Schools provides 27,000 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 37 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).