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 four Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) employees at its Oct. 9 meeting for their dedication and commitment to teaching and learning, and for making a difference in the lives of students.

Honored were Elizabeth Adams, a language arts teacher at General Smallwood Middle School; Sarah Kilikewich, a Reading Recovery teacher at J.P. Ryon Elementary School; Gwendolyn Todd, a high school resource teacher at Thomas Stone High School; and Natalie Wagner, a fifth-grade teacher at William A. Diggs Elementary School.

Adams has been teaching with CCPS for the past 18 years, all of which she has spent working with students at Smallwood. Her classroom experience ranges from teaching gifted and enrichment courses, to grade-level and inclusion classes. She sets high expectations for all students and is kind, caring and supportive. Adams is well known among her colleagues as a role model teacher who shares her passion of bringing literature to life for her students. Adams manages a lunch bunch program in which she invites students to visit her during their lunch to participate in literary discussions, watch movies or receive tutoring help. She also supports her colleagues as the language arts department chair, restorative practices leader and co-chair of the school cultural diversity committee. Smallwood Principal Brenda Tillotson said Adams is an invaluable part of the school team. “She sets high expectations for herself and her students. She is very strong in all of her teaching but especially her gifted classes. She will dress up as various characters to assist in bringing their literature alive in the classroom,” Tillotson wrote in a nomination letter.

Kilikewich has been teaching at Ryon for the past 12 years, with six years of experience as a special education teacher and six years as a Reading Recovery teacher. She maintains a consistent and rigorous learning environment to support students’ cognitive, emotional and social development. In her interactions with students, Kilikewich is kind, warm and caring, and respectful of their need for diverse instruction. Kilikewich is a role model teacher who shares her skill set and reading strategies with her peers in an effort to strengthen the reading development of students. She also supports Ryon as a member of the reading professional learning community, rocketry club and as a teacher liaison to the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO). Ryon Principal Thadine Wright said Kilikewich is an integral part of the school community. “Mrs. Kilikewich is an active and valuable asset to our entire school community. Her insight and guidance has strengthened this organization. Her efforts and dedication to all of our J.P. Ryon Cardinals is why she is most deserving of this recognition,” Wright wrote in a nomination letter.

Todd is a longtime teacher with CCPS and has worked at Stone for the past six years. She is the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program coordinator, new teacher mentor and instructional leadership team member. In her role as resource teacher, Todd supports administrators, teachers and students daily. From planning schoolwide professional development sessions and visiting classrooms to co-teach to helping her peers write student learning objectives (SLOs), Todd is a go-to at Stone for instructional expertise. She attends several professional development opportunities to learn new content and strategies to implement, including Advanced Placement course content. Todd organizes and oversees department chair meetings, teacher learning communities and is an integral part of the instructional program. In a letter of recommendation, Stone Principal Michael Charlton refers to Todd as an exceptional educator. “Ms. Todd is an informal leader in every sense of the word. She acts as a sounding board for administration to ensure faculty always has a voice when making school-based decisions. She epitomizes professionalism and is a fantastic role model,” Charlton wrote.

Wagner has been teaching at Diggs since 2008 and is known as a master teacher among her colleagues. She fosters relationships with students, parents and staff and is a kind and positive role model. Wagner demonstrates exemplary leadership and sets high expectations not only for her students, but also for herself. She is respected by students and adjusts her teaching practices to meet the needs of all learners. Wagner maximizes instructional time for students with well planned lessons, which enables her students to transition seamlessly between subjects and small group rotations. She is also an inclusion teacher, team leader, Synergy staff coordinator, and professional developer of Edulastic at both the school and county level. Wagner is working toward National Board Certification in the area of early and middle childhood literacy – a designation Diggs Principal Debra Calvert said Wagner is ready to pursue. “Ms. Wagner has exemplary and proven leadership skills. She sets high expectations for herself and supports others to achieve their personal best as well. Natalie is a joy to work with because of her positive demeanor and dedication to work,” Calvert 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 26,900 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 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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