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Board recognizes outstanding staff members at March meeting

During its March 12 meeting, the Board of Education honored eight Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) staff members for their dedication to students and a commitment to teaching and learning.

Those honored included John Brown, a social studies teacher at the Robert D. Stethem Educational Center; Donna Day, an instructional resource teacher at Matthew Henson Middle School; Donna Depamphilis, IEP facilitator, William A. Diggs Elementary School; Shannon Elder, instructional assistant, General Smallwood Middle School; Glenda Miller, F.B. Gwynn Educational Center; Stacey Oliver, prekindergarten teacher, Early Learning Center, La Plata; Kelly Rodriguez, learning resource teacher, J.P. Ryon Elementary School; and Lewis Young, building service manager, Thomas Stone High School.

At Stethem, Brown can be counted on to participate in day-to-day activities at the center while also pitching in for special projects. In addition to teaching social studies, Brown ensures the high school team works together. “He implements all directives with 100% compliance and adds to student experiences with his engaging social studies lessons,” Stethem Principal Louis D’Ambrosio said. Brown has taken classes to finish certification and participates in the center’s book study of “The Equity & Social Justice Education 50: Critical Questions for Improving Opportunities and Outcomes for Black Students,” by Baruti K. Kafele. He has also helped at Stethem’s Positive Behavior Intervention Supports (PBIS) yard sale. Outside of work, Brown is a member of the Charles County branch of the NAACP and attends Restoration Fellowship Center where he is a member of the Ministry Alliance. Brown is a Kansas City Chiefs fan, is a former professional baseball player, a father of two and grandfather of five children.

An instructional resource teacher at Henson, Day uses innovative teaching methods and can adapt instruction to meet the needs of all students. “Mrs. Day creates a learning environment that is rigorous, thoughtful, challenging and engaging to students,” Henson Principal Christina Caballero said. Day continues to find ways to incorporate real world learning and hands-on activities for students to connect knowledge from the classroom. She is a member of the Professional Learning Team and works to design and implement Henson’s focused learning strategies while differentiating strategies for all levels of math instruction. Day also helps new teachers with professional development. As well as being an instructional resource teacher, Day is the chair of the math department. The department meets each week to go over best educational practices to benefit students with Day’s sessions considered crucial for staff. “She is considered one of the best teaching assets in our instructional program,” Caballero said.

Depamphilis has a strong background in special education which contributes to her efficiency as an IEP facilitator. “She consistently advocates for students and can be seen working in classrooms around meetings and responds when there is a crisis or special education needs,” Diggs Principal Ben Harrington said. “She is an incredible team player.” Depamphilis assists with schedules, coordination of services, and student breaks. She turns in paperwork on time and keeps parents informed and up to date on need-to-know information. “She is always planning, collaborating and trying to find ways to help make the programming for students highly effective,” Harrington said.

There is no task too big or too small at Smallwood for Elder to take on. She coordinates the Environmental Club, sponsors the Spelling Bee team, oversees the yearbook club and journalism class and tries to attend as many activities as possible to capture moments for parents and students to look back on. She serves as the school’s Proximity Learning Instructional Assistant, supporting all teachers and assistants, mentoring new staff members, and is instrumental in assisting the sixth-grade instruction team. “Mrs. Elder’s contributions to our school community are exceptional and noteworthy,” Smallwood Principal Orlena Whatley said. “She plays a significant leadership role at General Smallwood Middle School, taking on responsibilities that go above and beyond her job description.”

Miller has been involved in the education field for 28 years and a principal’s secretary for 17 of them at the F.B. Gwynn Educational Center. “She serves as a mentor to all staff and is the go-to person if you have questions or needs,” Gwynn Principal Todd Wonderling said. “Mrs. Miller builds meaningful relationships with students, staff and parents.” Miller is set to retire in April.

Oliver started her career with CCPS in 2007 as a prekindergarten teacher at Indian Head Elementary School and was a reading recovery teacher at Walter J. Mitchell Elementary School before the Early Learning Center, La Plata opened in September on the campus of the College of Southern Maryland. Oliver helped the center get up and running. She organized, cleared and distributed materials. Not just in her classrooms, but throughout the building. “She came in on her own time during the summer,” ELC coordinator Candice Vallandingham-Adam said. “Each and every time an opportunity was offered to come to the ELC to help, she showed up.” Oliver is a resource to colleagues who always stays ahead of the curriculum and is an active listener. Students also know they can count on her and not just those in her classroom. While on recess duty, Oliver taught a student, who was in another teacher’s class, how to ride a bike. “This single act meant so much to the student and the student’s parent,” Vallandingham-Adam said.

At Ryon, Rodriguez wears many hats. She is the first to take the mentor role with new teachers providing classroom management tips, tricks to navigating parent communications, how to provide gifted services to students and how to tuck in planning time throughout the day. “Her work ethic is top notch, she always meets deadlines, is consistently planned but ready to adjust at a moment’s notice when she is needed,” Ryon Principal Nick Adam said. “Her pride in our school and the students we serve is why Kelly is recognized and respected by so many in our school community.” Rodriguez was named an outstanding teacher leader for gifted and talented education by the state in 2022 and continues to participate in professional learning opportunities such as Success Criteria training, Conscious Discipline and Move This World training.

Young’s attention to detail shows at Stone where he is the building service manager. He is often early to work and is first show up when called to an unexpected incident or asked for assistance. “He does so with a flexibility, a peace and patience that is an automatic calm amidst any chaos,” Shanif Pearl, Stone principal, said. Young’s work ethic is driven by his own set of personal values. “His efforts directly contribute to making our school conducive to learning and growing by providing a more welcoming and enjoyable atmosphere,” Pearl said. “He is, indeed, what a leader can only hope for in an employee.”

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).