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Board honors outstanding staff members at May Board meeting  

The Board of Education of Charles County at its May 9 meeting honored five 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 were Glen Ball of Milton M. Somers Middle School, Valerie Benton of Maurice J. McDonough High School, Pamela Brannon of Gale-Bailey Elementary School, Kristi Byers of Arthur Middleton Elementary School and Jennifer Walsh of Mary H. Matula Elementary School.

Ball came to CCPS first as a long-term substitute teacher. It was a second career and he found he had a knack for the education field. While substituting, Ball began taking classes and transitioned to be an instructional assistant (IA) before becoming a math teacher. He teaches math to students it the emotional adjustment (EA) program at Somers. EA is a therapeutic program for special education students that provides psychological, educational and behavioral supports in a small group setting for part of the school day. “Mr. Ball has worked with some of the most challenging students being the math teacher in the EA program,” Somers Principal Sandra Taylor said. Besides being in the classroom, Ball teaches grade recovery. When he isn’t teaching, Ball assists the school’s bus coordinator with bus and car rider duty, and chaperones afterschool events. Outside of teaching, Ball is involved in his church. He teaches students studying for Confirmation, he is a Eucharistic minister and is a member of the Knights of Columbus. He enjoys the outdoors taking time out for hiking, swimming and traveling.

When a colleague had to take extended leave last year, Benton stepped in to take over their case load. As a school counselor and with her plate already full, “Ms. Benton never complained and still got all of the required information completed for students and staff,” McDonough Principal Darnell Russell said. “She’s always there to help.” Benton, the counseling department chair, creates work schedules that allow for all students to have access to school counselors. She has mentored and aided colleagues in her department and is beloved by the parents of students who trust her. Her “Let’s get it done,” attitude inspires others, and she never leaves anyone behind. “Ms. Benton is genuinely a good person,” Russell said. “She can adapt and work with anyone. To several staff members in the building, she is a role model.”

Brannon is known among colleagues and students as having pride in Gale-Bailey. “Every Spirit Day she is front and center doing whatever it takes to get the staff and students into the Gale-Bailey spirit,” Principal Tangie Scales said. Brannon, a second-grade teacher, is retiring after this school year, but she is still one of the first to dive into learning a new strategy and implementing it in the classroom. She is an unofficial teacher mentor and often checks in on new teachers, sharing her experiences, advice and helpful tips. “Ms. Brannon is a natural leader,” Scales said.

A dedicated kindergarten teacher at Middleton, Byers often comes in early and stays late to meet with students’ families. She prepares and tailors her lessons to meet the needs of all her students. Byers builds bridges between school and home to strengthen students’ academic and social-emotional skills by sending home projects once a month for families to work together on a child’s literacy skills. She seeks out learning opportunities for herself and shares what she learns with other staff members at Middleton. She has been a team leader for the past three years and sits on various committees at the school. “Ms. Byers takes on her position full force,” Principial Nicole Hawkins said. “The students absolutely love her.”

As a speech pathologist, Walsh has an opportunity to work with students in various grades and she always makes her time with them fun as well as educational, Matula Principal Carrie Richardson said. Richardson first worked with Walsh when the former was an assistant principal at J.C. Parks Elementary School. Walsh doesn’t limit herself to teaching in a classroom setting believing students can learn anywhere. “Jenifer not only delivers services via a traditional classroom approach, but she can also be found working with students in the cafeteria, at recess and even on field trips,” Richardson said. “She knows how important it is for students to be able to apply what they have learned in real life, authentic settings.” Walsh makes materials that students take home to use with their parents and she goes out of her way to support her colleagues. “She is truly a teacher’s teacher,” Richardson said.

About CCPS

Charles County Public Schools provides 27,598 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).