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CCPS teacher set to teach abroad this spring

Life as a hearing itinerant with CCPS

NiYa Costley, Ph.D., is a long-time Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) teacher who strives to help students succeed. Costley has been with CCPS for nearly 25 years as a deaf and hard-of-hearing itinerant instructor. She started with the county in January 2005 after a vacancy for the position opened. While her main office is Dr. Gustavus Brown Elementary School, she travels around to different schools to work with students there. She also teaches an American Sign Language (ASL) class at Thomas Stone High School, conducts home visits for students, one local daycare and visits local libraries to conduct one-on-one and group sessions to students in need. “Dr. Costley is a hard worker and an effective teacher and contributor to the Stone community,” Stone Principal Shanif Pearl, said. “She is enthusiastic and passionate about the work she does inside and outside the classroom. We are excited for her and this opportunity to expand her educational impact to the students in the Philippines and we look forward to her sharing her experiences when she returns.”

Costley enjoys the unconventional schedule that her position requires. “I have the attention span of a fly, so an itinerant position works best for me,” she said. She arrived in the county in 2005 from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania where she obtained her bachelor’s degree with a special major in education and psychology with a concentration in Black studies. She also received her master’s in administration and supervision from Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., and a master’s from Minneapolis’s Walden University in philosophy of education. She later obtained her doctorate degree from Walden in educational technology.

Gaming guru

Costley’s love for technology and games started early in her life. “I have been a tech geek since elementary school and interested in games since a young age,” she said. “It has been a running joke as a child that every Christmas I would get board games.” She enjoyed the thought of gamification in education, specifically in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), so much so that she obtained her doctorate in educational technology. “I just knew that I was going to do my dissertation on the digital divide, but then I realized that it has been researched to death,” Costley said. So, she started thinking about other topics which led to the topic of gamification.

Not only did she obtain her doctorate in gamification in STEM through her childhood interest in the field, but she also aspires to help teach other students the joy of learning through gamification. “The idea of engaging students through play, technology and game mechanics was appealing to me,” she said. “Too many of our kids are checking out and part of the reason is because they are bored.”     

Teaching in the Philippines

Costley continued to combine her loves – gaming and education, traveling and teaching. The opportunity for Costley to continue her education was one that she jumped on but not nearly as fast as one to travel and teach in the Philippines. “I love traveling – especially international,” she said. “I love meeting new people, experiencing new cultures and being able to engage with the community there.” The U.S. Department of State and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board recently selected Costley for the Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Short Term Program where she will teach gamification of STEM instruction to students in the secondary school classroom. Costley is one of 20 U.S. citizens who will travel to 14 countries around the world in 2024 in the program.

Costley will be teaching classes with 50 or more students during her stint in the Philippines. As she went through the interview process, she wanted to make sure that the students in the class would be eager to learn and listen to the content being shared. The interviewers assured her that the students in the classroom had to apply for the course and that they wanted to be there which excited Costley even more for the opportunity.

“One morning I walked into Stone, and I was flooded with multiple messages of ‘Congratulations’ from students and staff at the school,” she said. “Apparently my teaching opportunity and award was announced that morning.” Costley usually arrives at the school after the morning announcements to teach the ASL class, so the response of the students and staff came as a surprise. The short-term teaching experience in the Philippines will begin in the spring this year and last for six weeks. “I am looking forward to it,” she said.


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).