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Lackey Spanish teacher Joshua Clark named 2024 CCPS Teacher of the Year

Joshua Clark, a Spanish teacher at Henry E. Lackey High School, was named the recipient of the 2024 Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) Teacher of the Year honor during a Feb. 22 recognition ceremony. The event, held at St. Charles High School, honors nominees for the 2024 Washington Post Teacher of the Year and CCPS Teacher of the Year award programs. This year, there were more than 40 nominees and six finalists.

From the five remaining finalists, one will be named this spring to represent CCPS in The Washington Post Teacher of the Year program. Each CCPS school nominates an educator for the awards programs, touting their commitment to teaching and learning. In addition to Clark, the finalists for the 2024 CCPS Teacher of the Year program include:

  • Melissa Carpenter, fifth-grade teacher, William B. Wade Elementary School.
  • Jane Marchione, school librarian, Matthew Henson Middle School
  • Wendie Newcamp, language arts teacher, Theodore G. Davis Middle School.
  • Susan Steinmetz, music teacher, Dr. James Craik Elementary School.
  • Jacqueline Taylor, English teacher, North Point High School.

The Charles County Teacher of the Year honoree represents CCPS in the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) Maryland Teacher of the Year program in which one teacher receives the overall state honor. The Washington Post finalist from CCPS represents the school system in the overall awards program in which one teacher from the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area is named the newspaper’s Teacher of the Year.

As the 2024 CCPS Teacher of the Year, Clark is eligible for the Maryland Teacher of the Year honors, which will be announced in the fall.

Joshua Clark

For Clark, teaching at Lackey is like coming home. He graduated from the school in 2014 and after earning a bachelor’s degree from Frostburg State University, he returned to Lackey in 2018 to teach Spanish.

He spent the summer of 2019 in Córdoba, Argentina, as a volunteer English teacher, leading classes for students between the ages of 8 to 18 and collaborated with other teachers at Ricardo Palma School.

He has led or collaborated various professional learning opportunities for CCPS such as “The Recipe for Student Engagement in the Classroom,” and “Using the Interactive Model with Authentic Videos,” and was selected to present at a Chicago meeting of the American Council for Teaching Foreign Language. “Mr. Clark is highly regarded among both students and colleagues for his approachability, patience and willingness to provide additional support whenever needed,” Kimberly Moinet, compliance facilitator in Lackey’s special education department, said. “He fosters strong relationships with students.”

Clark was an assistant coach to the Little Rascals Destination Imagination (DI) Team for two years and twice went to the Global DI competition with the team. At Lackey, he is the coach of the school’s Polyglot Club, creating opportunities for students to increase their proficiency in Spanish and French. Clark is held in high regard among his students where he is not Mr. Clark, but Sr. Clark using the Spanish language prefix for señor. “I was lucky to have Sr. Clark for Spanish II as a freshman student,” Eliza Freundel, a sophomore, said. “He has high expectations for his students and encourages us every day. He is there when you need to talk and is known as the teacher you can rely on, as he is there not only to mentor his students but all the students at Lackey.”

Lackey Principal Cheryl K. Davis understands how students can feel comfortable and ready to learn in Clark’s classroom. “The room itself is calming and inviting,” she said. Davis described the classroom as lit by lamps rather than harsh overhead lighting and organized with a seating arrangement that makes it easy for students to collaborate and interact.

“Mr. Clark allows his students to think outside the box and develops innovative ways of bringing instruction to life,” John Lush, Lackey’s athletic director who first met Clark when the latter was a student, said. “He has an uncanny ability to meet each of his students at their individual ability level and make significant gains with each over the course of the year.” Clark is a role model for students and colleagues at Lackey. “Mr. Clark is an extremely committed teacher,” Lush said. “This is a man who embodies a strong set of values.”

About the finalists 

Melissa Carpenter

Carpenter is a Thomas Stone High School graduate who returned to the county after earning a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Salisbury University in 2012. “The impact of a great teacher can make all the difference,” Carpenter said. “It was the impact of some great teachers at Thomas Stone High School that brought me back to Charles County to teach.”

She has been teaching at Wade for a decade and has led gifted and talented programs, created an inclusive classroom and served as a new teacher mentor.

At Wade, Carpenter leads professional development opportunities and collaborates with colleagues. She is Wade’s representative to the Education Association of Charles County (EACC) and was recently elected to the association’s board of directors. She also reaches out to parents, encouraging them to have an active role at the school by developing a school playground partner program.

“Melissa’s passion for education is infectious,” Wade Principal William Miller said. “She never forgets to make learning fun in her classroom. As a principal, I know that during the short year students spend with this amazing teacher, they are appreciating her passion for developing lifelong learners.”

Carpenter’s student Maimouna Sidibe called her teacher “spectacular, exceedingly kind and hard working.” Sidibe said, “I mean, it’s rare to have a teacher who is nice to everyone and is very experienced. We should strive to have more teachers like you in Charles County. Wait, no … in the whole country.”

Avonne Stewart is the mother of one of Carpenter’s students, Kylie. Stewart said Carpenter not only fosters Kylie’s academic progress but tends to her emotional needs. “Which is what the children today need to be productive and contribute to society,” Stewart said. “Ms. Carpenter is supportive of my daughter’s goals and mine as a parent, and for that I feel like she’s a part of the family.”

Jane Marchione

Being the library media specialist at Henson, Marchione interacts with just about every student and staff member in the building. She teaches lessons through language arts and literature lab classes and promotes reading, digital literacy and research skills while encouraging independent exploration of individual interests. She collaborates with teachers to supply resources for lessons and keeps up with the interests of students to be able to provide engaging and interesting books and materials that will foster a lifetime of exploration and learning. “Mrs. Marchione has helped me in the library by giving me book suggestions or having conversations about the books I want to read,” Henson sixth-grade student Aubrey Livingston said. “She is in the library bright and early, and she is a reliable person and a teacher who is always available.”

Marchione began her career with CCPS in 2010 as a language arts teacher at Piccowaxen Middle School. From there, she moved to Henson where she taught language arts before becoming the school’s library media specialist, a role she’s been in since 2019. In February 2019, Marchione was named an outstanding educator in gifted and talented education by MSDE and was recognized by Praxis, a program for teachers to measure content knowledge and other factors. Marchione leads schoolwide reading challenges, organizes book fairs and oversees the yearbook. She leads learning development opportunities for staff and is taking a post graduate course in building critical social and emotional skills using literature.

“I appreciate that Jane is not put off by challenges and that she takes intelligent risks,” Dedra Van Gelder, CCPS content specialist for library media, said. “She is never afraid to ask a question or be the first one to try something new.”

Wendie Newcamp

Newcamp has known since she was in first grade that she wanted to teach English and language arts and was convinced she taught a cat how to read. While her teaching skills didn’t translate to feline students, her determination to teach led her to earn a degree and teaching certificate from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She taught at Piccowaxen for a decade during which she earned a master’s in curriculum and instruction, studied for certification from the National Board of Teaching Standards (NBTS) and become a mother. “I also sprinkled sunshine, mastered my dancing moves to Prince songs and had my students take their parents back to school,” Newcamp said.

After 10 years at Piccowaxen, Newcamp became a gifted education resource teacher at General Smallwood and Davis middle schools before returning to the classroom as an eighth-grade language arts teacher at Davis. There she is the co-team leader for eighth grade and a member of the school’s leadership committee. She has written curriculum for CCPS and served as a testing coordinator and team leader for the Positive Behavioral and Intervention Supports (PBIS) program.

Her students admire her patience when teaching new concepts, and giving students examples and time to grasp the subject matter. “Mrs. Newcamp never has down days where she gets tired and does not want to teach,” Niyair Adams, a Davis eighth grader, said. “She is always energetic and happy.” Behind a positive attitude and friendly demeanor, Newcamp is organized and prepared. “I have never walked into her room to see anything less than rigorous instruction that planned to the minute,” Davis Principal Robert Griffiths said. “Her mastery of groupwork and the way she scaffolds her lessons is perfect.”

Newcamp takes the time to build relationships with students and their families. “Mrs. Newcamp goes above and beyond the call of duty to keep parents involved in our children’s education,” Marjorie Childs, a Davis parent of two of Newcamp’s students, said. Childs appreciates that Newcamp keeps students and families informed through “Newcamp News,” with helpful tips on how parents can stay involved in their child’s education. “Mrs. Newcamp has done a remarkable job at creating a supportive partnership,” Childs said.

Susan Steinmetz

At Craik, Steinmetz has cultivated the largest elementary school choir in the county with 90 students of all abilities. She strives to cultivate a love of music among students and the joy that comes along with it. “I believe every child can succeed in the music classroom,” she said. “I want to make the musical experience attainable to all.” She arranges for students to participate in a before-school chorus program which frees them up to take part in band and strings. Cameron Barber, a fifth grader at Craik, is one of those students who didn’t have to give up chorus to join band. “I wouldn’t have been able to do that if it weren’t for Mrs. Steinmetz,” he said. “For kids like me who want to sing and play an instrument, she made it possible.”

After beginning her teaching career in Fairfax, Va., Steinmetz came to Craik in 2002 where she teaches students in prekindergarten through fifth grade. Her students have sung the National Anthem before Southern Maryland Blue Crabs games and perform at school concerts and talent shows. She has worked with the “big kids” too as the musical director for Maurice J. McDonough High School plays “Seussical,” and “Matilda the Musical.”

In 2011, Steinmetz conducted the CCPS Elementary All-County Chorus. “That was where I first witnessed her mastery in action,” Andrew Blumhardt, CCPS instructional specialist for fine and performing arts, said. “Her warm-up techniques, emphasis on diction, pronunciation and meticulous rehearsal strategies transformed a student chorus experience into a professional development opportunity for me.”

Steinmetz was nominated for the CCPS Teacher of the Year award program in 2016 and has been named Craik’s exemplary employee twice. She has been a sponsor of the school’s Mathematics, Engineering and Science Achievement (MESA) team. “With her guidance, my son’s fourth-grade team competed in Maryland and received a first-place award,” Karenllelys Moses, a Craik parent, said. Moses’ son is now 15 and still talks about his time on the MESA team in elementary school. “Mrs. Steinmetz is an incredible teacher,” she said. “But more importantly, a wonderful person. Her commitment to students proves that she goes the extra mile to ensure they are encouraged, supported and challenged in their learning.”

Jacqueline Taylor

Taylor began her teaching career with CCPS as an English teacher at General Smallwood Middle School before heading to North Point in 2015 where she teaches 12th-grade English. She has developed English curriculum for the school system and has personally purchased novels for students to read in class.

Growing up in Maryland, Taylor was a student in a Head Start program. “I was one of the low income, impoverished children — as the summary criteria mentions — who needed a head start to begin loving education and all it has to offer,” Taylor said. As a four-year-old, Taylor said the program didn’t necessarily jumpstart a love for lifelong learning, but the relationships she formed were indelible. “I felt like the teacher loved me,” Taylor said. “As I matured, I realized that my first teacher, Mrs. Woodrick, loved what she was doing and that she was educating children despite their backgrounds. She loved teaching and it showed.”

It is something Taylor models for her students. Teaching the next generation can be daunting, but Taylor leans into it with love. “[T]he one thing that remains steadfast is that loving people makes a difference,” she said. “While the word ‘love’ seems warm and fuzzy, love is also discipline. The discipline of love is not limiting a person but taking them to another level … loving someone is also showing boundaries, expressing appropriate words to encourage and redirect are necessary for children of all ages.”

“Her greatest gift to our school is her faith in others,” North Point Principal Daniel Kaple said. “She believes in all of us — students and staff.”

Taylor leads professional learning opportunities for colleagues and collaborates with staff in other content areas. “She makes people feel valued and heard, so that even on the toughest of days, we can continue to be a source of strength for our students,” Niyati Green, a high school resource teacher, said.

Students appreciate that Taylor’s lessons chart out a path for life beyond high school. Students know that Taylor sets forth a plan to prepare them for the college application process and everything else senior year entails. Students are advancing and gathering skills they can carry into the next phase of their education. “I noticed that Mrs. Taylor was noting the strengths and weaknesses of her students,” Nadia Gaskins, a North Point senior, said. “Mrs. Taylor has taken her years of teaching and has cultivated this masterful formula to help each one of her students grow, no matter what level of learning we’re at.”

Each school nominates a teacher for the CCPS Teacher of the Year Award program. Below is a complete list of teachers nominated for the 2024 school year.

Elementary schools

  • Keyanna Williams, first-grade teacher, C. Paul Barnhart Elementary School.
  • Jayme Emerson, second-grade teacher, Berry Elementary School.
  • Kimberly Williams, kindergarten teacher, Billingsley Elementary School.
  • Stephanie Blair, art teacher, Dr. Gustavus Brown Elementary School.
  • Susan Steinmetz, vocal music teacher, Dr. James Craik Elementary School.
  • Leigh Esmond, first-grade teacher, William A. Diggs Elementary School.
  • Yvette Thomas, second-grade teacher, Gale-Bailey Elementary School.
  • Martha Peer, special education teacher, Dr. Thomas L. Higdon Elementary School.
  • Caitlyn Grimes, third-grade teacher, Indian Head Elementary School.
  • Andrew Shanbarger, science teacher, Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer Elementary School.
  • Bianca Valdez, fifth-grade teacher, Malcolm Elementary School.
  • Nicholas Gardiner, fifth-grade teacher, T.C. Martin Elementary School.
  • Nicole Vigil, fifth-grade teacher, Mary H. Matula Elementary School.
  • Nichole Barker, fourth-grade, Arthur Middleton Elementary School.
  • Jennifer Thomas Burrows, second-grade teacher, Walter J. Mitchell Elementary School.
  • Catherine Graff, prekindergarten teacher, Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy Elementary School.
  • Norma Williams, prekindergarten teacher, Dr. Samuel A. Mudd Elementary School.
  • JaNeil Pryor, special education teacher, Mary B. Neal Elementary School.
  • Stephanie Hill, third-grade teacher, J.C. Parks Elementary School.
  • Christina Gardiner, first-grade teacher, J.P. Ryon Elementary School.
  • Jennifer Winters, special education teacher, Eva Turner Elementary School.
  • Melissa Carpenter, fifth-grade teacher, William B. Wade Elementary School.

Middle schools

  • Wendie Newcamp, language arts teacher, Theodore G. Davis Middle School.
  • Letia Ballard, social studies teacher, John Hanson Middle School.
  • Jane Marchione, library media specialist, Matthew Henson Middle School.
  • Elaine Potter, mathematics teacher, Mattawoman Middle School.
  • Lauren Washington, social studies teacher, Phoenix International School of the Arts (PISOTA).
  • Daniel Hoefert, social studies teacher, Piccowaxen Middle School.
  • Sean Anderson, mathematics teacher, General Smallwood Middle School.
  • Teresa Buckmaster, social studies teacher, Milton M. Somers Middle School.
  • Charles McCoy, computer teacher, Benjamin Stoddert Middle School.

High schools

  • Joshua Clark, Spanish teacher, Henry E. Lackey High School.
  • Rebecca Gibson, science teacher, La Plata High School.
  • Vonda Hicks, mathematics teacher, Maurice J. McDonough High School.
  • Jacqueline Taylor, English teacher, North Point High School.
  • Elizabeth Lawless, English teacher, St. Charles High School.
  • Elise McCoy, literacy teacher, Thomas Stone High School.
  • Nikia Williams, business education teacher, Westlake High School.


  • Timothy Rosin, special education teacher, F.B. Gwynn Educational Center.
  • Brinson Lundegard, science teacher, Robert D. Stethem Educational Center.

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).