The Board of Education of Charles County at its Nov. 15 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 were Letia Ballard of John Hanson Middle School; Dana Clark of St. Charles High School; Devonni Farrar of C. Paul Barnhart Elementary School; Kevin Gibson of Henry E. Lackey High School; Laura Liverman of T.C. Martin Elementary School; and Tina Thomas of Dr. Gustavus Brown Elementary School.
Ballard is a social studies teacher at Hanson who teaches students in seventh and eighth grades. It is not surprising Principal Ben Kohlhorst named Ballard as an outstanding employee who has the support of her colleagues. “Mrs. Ballard is exemplary in everything she does,” Didi Schenck, a math teacher at Hanson, said. “[She] is always insightful and shares much of what she does to improve the learning of our students.” Ballard creates a classroom culture that makes history relevant to students while being a hands-on teacher who finds many ways for students to access materials and demonstrate their understanding of what they are learning. “Truly a historian at heart, she gives content with context,” Schenck said. She is a mentor for newer teachers and an instrumental member of Hanson’s eighth grade team. Ballard sets high standards for her students and can be counted on to pitch in where she is needed. “You can lean on her for just about anything,” Schenck said.
Staff and students at St. Charles know they can count on Clark for support and guidance. As an instructional assistant (IA), Clark is not only dedicated to her students, but also a forward thinker. “She has proposed three activities this school year as outreach for ESOL students,” St. Charles Principal Tammika Little said. “Ms. Clark has stressed the importance and need of ensuring that all students feel like they are part of the school community.” Clark extends the welcome beyond St. Charles staff and students. As a Spirit Leader, she decorates the concession stand open for afterschool events and athletics. “Our concession stand is painstakingly decorated for every game and is a pleasant sight for home and away teams,” Little said. “It is a welcoming place where everyone comes together as one community.” As a co-sponsor of a girl empowerment group at the school, Clark works with female students to build their life skills and confidence that will serve them after graduation. In additional to being the sponsor of the school’s Relay for Life team, Clark was tapped to be a leader in the countywide Relay for Life event.
Second grade teacher Farrar is in her fifth year of teaching — first hired on a conditional contract before earning her certification. She has stayed committed to the certification process impressing Principal Brian King, Ed.D., with her work ethic. “She impressively balances the required coursework with the demands of classroom teaching,” King said. Growing into a highly effective teacher in a few short years, Farrar instills the characteristics of determination and perseverance into her students. “She holds her students to high expectations for effort and participation,” King said.
At Lackey, Gibson is a leader among teachers, Principal Kathy Perriello said. He teaches local, state and national (LSN) government classes, psychology/sociology, Advanced Placement (AP) psychology and is the yearbook advisor. Gibson and his students in AP psychology and yearbook can be found in the school hallways during class observing and capturing human behavior. “His psychology and yearbook classes are intently designed to be authentic and personalized,” Perriello said. While deployed with the U.S. military, Gibson continued to check in on his students during the school day through Zoom. As the yearbook sponsor Gibson and his students are responsible for documenting highlights and everyday happenings at the school. “Mr. Gibson has spent countless hours capturing the highlights of our Charger family,” Perriello said. “He is attentive and proactive.” Gibson is the school’s representative to the Education Association of Charles County (EACC) and he recently completed his master’s degree in administration from Towson University.
Liverman is not just a member of the T.C. Martin school community, she lives in the area too. She often runs into students — past and present — and their families. When one young man — a former student — stopped her in the grocery store to introduce her to his grandmother, he mentioned he was now a teacher and Liverman was one of those who inspired him to go into the field. Liverman started her career as a classroom teacher at Eva Turner Elementary School before becoming the technology facilitator at Martin, a role she’s held for 19 years. During her time at Martin, Liverman has been the bus coordinator, team leader, fifth grade safety patrol coordinator and the public relations representative. As the PR rep, Liverman keeps the school’s social media accounts and website up to date. “This has been especially important during virtual learning and the return of in-person learning,” Principal Todd Wonderling said. “If you see our Twitter feed, you would be impressed with the way she posts the awesome moments that happen every day at Martin.”
As the registration secretary at Dr. Brown, Thomas wears many hats. She makes sure any staff member or student who drops by the office is helped and makes it a point to learn as much about Dr. Brown families as possible. Thomas makes it a practice to know how each student leaves the school in the afternoon and is safely on their way. “She knows addresses and how each student will get home on a daily basis,” Principal Karen Lewis said. She ensures student data is properly documented and prints all certificates for the school from promotion certificates to awards handed out at assemblies. Thomas is the school’s Synergy coordinator and helps teacher and staff with any issues they have with the program. She takes classes to keep her knowledge of office practices current. “She is willing to grow in every and all areas that will improve her performance,” Lewis said. “Ms. Thomas confronts all challenges head on.”
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).