Board honors exemplary staff for commitment to teaching and learning

Board honors exemplary staff for commitment to teaching and learning

The Board of Education honored five Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) employees at its Nov. 13 meeting for their dedication and commitment to teaching and learning, and for making a difference in the lives of students.

Honored were Teresa Higgs, a special education teacher at Westlake High School; Toni Kim, a third-grade teacher at Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy Elementary School; Andrea Landis, a special education teacher at Indian Head Elementary School; Paula Schiller, a special education teacher at the F.B. Gwynn Educational Center; and Victor Woodland, the building service manager at Theodore G. Davis Middle School.

Higgs has worked for CCPS for several years and oversees the SOAR and Career Research and Development (CRD) programs at Westlake. SOAR is a regionalized special education program that targets structured teaching, opportunities for social inclusion, active learning and rigor. Higgs helped to launch the program at Westlake and provides students with innovative lessons. She uses differentiated teaching styles to meet the needs of all learners, and helps students take ownership of their learning. She provides CRD students with opportunities to learn about the business world. Higgs recently implemented spontaneous presentations in which students have only five minutes to prepare. She is the Class of 2021 sponsor and oversees the Best Buddies program at Westlake. Westlake Principal Diane Roberts said Higgs strives to perfect her teaching to benefit her students. “Her goal is to perfect her craft in order to offer her students instruction and care aligned with national best practices,” Roberts wrote in a nomination letter.

Kim has been teaching since 2005 and is an example of a teacher who goes above and beyond to support students. She sets high goals for her students and ensures her lesson plans are fun and engaging. Her students consistently earn high marks on school assessments and are eager to come to class each day. Kim provides differentiated teaching methods to reach all of her students, and is always looking for the best way to support her class. She recently completed her administration certificate and is part of the CCPS Formative Assessment for Maryland Educators (FAME) program. Kim is often observed during the week by other teachers in need of additional instructional strategies and teaching practices. She also is a supportive member of both the math and reading committees. Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy Principal William Miller said Kim is a valuable asset to the school community. “Toni is an amazing teacher who always is looking for the best way to help promote and teach her students. She works with our instructional leadership team and administration to implement new instructional strategies,” Miller wrote in a nomination letter.

Landis has worked as a special education teacher at Indian Head for 10 years. She is well known among her colleagues as a teacher who attempts to build relationships with all students. She takes the time to get to know each of her students and learn their needs. Landis is a go-to person for several staff members in need of assistance and often serves as the administrator in charge when both the principal and vice principal are out of the building. She is the special education team leader, Best Buddies and Mathematics, Engineering and Science Achievement (MESA) program coordinator and also oversees the Just Say No Club. She helps to coach and support teachers and mentors other special education teachers new to CCPS. Landis recently completed mental health training and is in the process of completing her master’s degree with an autism certification. Indian Head Principal Shane Blandford said Landis is a dependable member of school staff. “She will work to build relationships with any child, regardless of if they are on her case load or in her class. The needs of Indian Head as a whole school are a huge priority for her,” Blandford wrote in a nomination letter.

Schiller has been teaching at the Gwynn Center since 2002 and is the Infants and Toddlers Program team leader. She ensures her team has the necessary resources for instruction and organizes program events for children and their families. She assisted in writing a grant that provided the program with more than $400,000 in funding. Schiller also organized a six-month professional development program for staff on evidence-based practices in early intervention. She serves as the Charles County Infants and Toddlers Program representative for Evidence Based Practices with the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE). Schiller also coordinates team planning meetings and training for instructional assistants. Daphne Burns, principal at the Gwynn Center, said Schiller is a master special education teacher. “Paula has been in the field of education for over 25 years, and she has spent most of her career as a special education teacher with CCPS. After many years in the field of education she continues to seek ways to help students and families meet success,” Burns wrote in a nomination letter.

Woodland began his career at Davis when the school opened in 2007. He and his team work tirelessly to prepare the building for students and staff each day. Woodland works with school staff and administrators to ensure the school is safe and orderly. He performs facility checks and maintains building inspection records. Woodland prepares daily assignments for his staff and is known for his attention to detail and strong work ethic. Prior to joining the team at Davis, Woodland worked with building service teams at General Smallwood Middle School, Henry E. Lackey High School and the Robert D. Stethem Educational Center. He takes pride in his work and is a role model for students and staff. Davis Principal Kim McClarin said Woodland helps to keep the school in excellent condition. “Mr. Woodland is an amazing building service manager. He keeps our school and school grounds in excellent condition. He goes above and beyond expectations,” McClarin wrote in a nomination letter.

The Board at its monthly meetings honors exemplary CCPS students and staff for their accomplishments.  

About CCPS

Charles County Public Schools provides 27,000 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 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.

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