The Board of Education honored five Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) employees during the Feb. 10 Board meeting, including Kevin Barry, Laura Birchfield, Betty Horton, David Johnson and Sara Keener.
Barry is a social studies teacher at La Plata High School where he has been instrumental in the implementation of technology in the classroom. In addition to training staff on the use of Smart Boards and web applications to increase instruction, Barry is the Telepresence coordinator. Telepresence is videoconferencing technology that supports a distance learning program in all high schools. Barry uses Telepresence to provide students with opportunities to interact with their peers on a global scale. To advance his skills, Barry has attended the International Memory Bank Training to learn how to teach students about preserving oral histories. He also participated in training for the Designing Technology Solutions course, which he now teaches at La Plata. La Plata Principal Evelyn Arnold said Barry is a great example of an outstanding teacher. “He consistently volunteers to attend training so that he can continuously improve his teaching. Kevin obtained certification to teach our Advanced Placement Human Geography course. Because of his enthusiasm and ability to provide students with a broad range of experiences, we have seen the number of students double since he took over the program,” Arnold wrote in a nomination letter.
Birchfield is a fifth-grade teacher at Eva Turner Elementary School. She has worked for CCPS for the past eight years and has also taught second- through fourth-grade classes. She is the fifth-grade team leader and was chosen for recognition for her team leadership and exemplary classroom management skills. During faculty, curriculum mapping and data utilization meetings, Birchfield is always willing to share her expertise. She sponsors the school math team, yearbook and Mathematics, Engineering and Science Achievement (MESA), and helped her peers with a college recognition display for students. She is known as a team player and leader among her peers. Turner Principal Orlena Whatley said Birchfield’s passion is student engagement. “She makes the curriculum come alive by igniting the interests of her students. Her classroom is an exciting place where the kids believe they are with the best teacher in the world,” Whatley wrote in her nomination letter.
Horton is a first-grade teacher at Dr. Thomas L. Higdon Elementary School. She has worked for CCPS for the past 30 years and is passionate about and dedicated to her job. Horton incorporates hands-on learning opportunities for students by using learning stations to ensure she meets the diverse needs of her students. As an inclusion teacher, Horton ensures that her classroom is inviting and works with parents to update them regularly about their children. She has embraced the use of technology in the classroom and regularly incorporates the use of the Smart Board, laptop and IPad for classroom lessons. Her teaching style is described as energetic and hands-on, and her students excel in all academic areas. Higdon Principal Kathleen Morgan said Horton has all of the qualities of a master teacher. “She epitomizes the words master teacher. She is a truly exceptional teacher as well as person in our community,” Morgan wrote in a nomination letter.
Johnson is the building service assistant manager at Berry Elementary School, where he has worked since 2007. He demonstrates a positive attitude in all that he does and consistently supports teachers on a regular basis. He displays a high regard for his professional performance, as well as for the students and staff at Berry. He is always available to assist anyone in need of help, and often works beyond his regular work hours. He has also served as the acting building service manager and demonstrates exemplary leadership and pride in his work. Berry Principal Melissa Logan said Johnson consistently displays flexibility and care for his teammates and operations of the school. “He is quick to problem solve, seek out resources, and offer his personal time to meet the needs of the students and school. His leadership and ability to serve as a role model are qualities that make him an outstanding employee,” Logan wrote in a nomination letter.
Keener is a language arts teacher at Piccowaxen Middle School. She has taught language arts with CCPS for more than eight years, teaching both sixth- and seventh-grade students. Keener often invites staff members to her classroom to observe her lessons, and shares ideas and strategies with her team. She enjoys knowing that her students master lesson objectives and work hard in her class. Keener has served as the seventh grade team leader for the past four years, and has organized conferences, awards assemblies, field trips and fundraisers. She finished her master’s degree in 2012, and is became certified as a reading specialist. In his letter of nomination, Piccowaxen Principal Wendell Martin said Keener is a role model for her peers. “She has an inviting personality. She is easy to converse with and the staff readily follows her leadership. She goes above and beyond the school day in an effort to ensure that her students have well-planned lessons,” Martin wrote in a nomination letter.
The Board honors several exemplary employees each month.
Charles County Public Schools provides 26,500 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 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 Dr. Patricia Vaira, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Pamela K. Murphy, 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.