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Board honors staff members for commitment to students, education

The Board of Education of Charles County at its April 11 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 Mary Bailey of Dr. Thomas L. Higdon Elementary School, Nicole Deavers of La Plata High School, Christian Mendoza of Eva Turner Elementary, Melissa Scott of Piccowaxen Middle School and Courtney Swann of Berry Elementary School.  

Bailey is a reading recovery teacher at Higdon who is strategic and consistent when teaching students. She leads reading interventions with students and supports reading in select first-grade classrooms. “Mary readily extends her knowledge, time, heart and the proverbial blood, sweat and tears to developing the capacity of teachers to deliver effective reading instruction and skills to assess students reading ability,” Shannon Finnegan, Ed.D., principal of Higdon, said.

Bailey’s dedication to her students has been honored by outside organizations. She has been named a Teacher of the Year by Walmart, was a nominee for Reader’s Digest’s Hero of the Year and a contender for Maryland’s Teacher of the Year. She has organized Higdon’s book swap and ice cream social, volunteers for LifeStyles of Maryland, the Lions Club and as a Boy Scout Merit Badge counselor. She has also delivered medical and school supplies to remote areas of Appalachia.

There is not an assessment at La Plata that will catch students and staff unprepared. That’s down to Deavers and her excellence as the school’s testing coordinator. “Ample communication is sent out weeks, or even months, in advance,” La Plata Principal Douglass Dolan said. Deavers can be called on to cover classes for teachers are needed outside their classrooms while playing an integral role in the data analysis and development of the school’s improvement plan goals. Deavers was selected to serve as a new teacher mentor due to her ability to relate to colleagues and her willingness to assist where she is needed. Deavers is an extended learning opportunity (ELO) coordinator and responsible for credit recovery. “When you combine Mrs. Deavers efficiency and expertise as a testing coordinator with the number other programs and roles she fills at La Plata High School, anyone in our building would tell you she’s an intregal part of the day-to-day operations,” Dolan said.

At Turner, Mendoza is a team player. As an instructional assistant (IA) for the SOAR program, he supports instructional, social and emotional learning for his students and pitches into help staff members. “I don’t think he even knows what the word ‘No’ means,” Principal Gary Lesko said. “His flexibility and willingness to help out wherever is needed is both admirable and appreciated.” Mendoza’s attention to detail and work ethic are evident in evaluations. During his time at Turner, Mendoza has worked for three principals and all three have rated Mendoza’s skills as highly effective. Lesko has no doubt that Mendoza’s impact has been felt over the years and will remain. “I am certain that Turner is a better school because of his presence,” he said.

When Piccowaxen was down an administrative intern, Scott stepped up to support the school’s leadership. While officially the school’s learning resource teacher, Scott’s expertise flows into other aspects of the school. “At the beginning of the year, we had a number of issues with technology and Ms. Scott was able to inventory, organize and distribute technology so that students had what they needed to be successful,” Principal Wualanda Thenstead said. Add to this her slate of organizing testing, providing trainings to staff and working with students in the Gifted and Talented program, and Scott has a full plate. She also takes professional learning opportunities and trains trainers of Restorative Practices. “Ms. Scott has stepped up to fill in a variety of capacities to ensure the smooth running of Piccowaxen,” Thenstead said.

At Berry, Swann is a leader who puts others first. “She is a quiet and influential leader who is a role model of integrity and reflective professionalism,” Principal LeighAnn McLaud said. A fourth-grade teacher, Swann embraces all responsibilities with a positive attitude. In addition to teaching her students, she is a mentor and peer coach to new teachers often tapped to host visiting new teachers as a model classroom, sharing tips for classroom management and instructional delivery. Swann is an expanded learning opportunities (ELO) tutor and gifted cluster teacher to a range of students. Swann continues to seek out further opportunities to expand her knowledge of teaching. “She regularly seeks out our school resources to deepen her understanding of her teaching,” McLaud 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).