Charles Co. Public Schools Employees Honored

Thadine Wright named 2015 Principal of the Year

Thadine Wright.
Thadine Wright.

Strong values, a respectful demeanor, high expectations and a commitment to the success of all children are just a few of the leadership characteristics the J.C. Parks Elementary School community uses to describe their principal, Thadine Wright. On a daily basis, Wright takes the time to greet all students to and from school with hugs, handshakes and even the occasional high five. One of her goals as a leader is to maintain a positive and supportive dialogue with students, staff and parents. She makes herself available to listen to those in the Parks community and collaborates with all stakeholders to ensure the needs of each student are met.

She emulates what it takes to be a team and is the biggest supporter of her students. The vision she models at Parks is “to create the best environment where all students experience academic success, develop personal responsibility and achieve career readiness for the 21st century.” Wright embodies this and is often described as a “cheerleader” because she is always there to motivate and encourage children. For these abilities and more, Wright was chosen as the 2015 Charles County Public Schools Principal of the Year and recipient of this year’s Washington Post Distinguished Educational Leadership Award.

Wright said she is honored with the recognition, and humbled by her selection for an award she feels rewards her for doing a job she loves. “It’s a great honor to be recognized, and even just nominated, by the committee. It’s quite humbling, because I come to school every day with the intention of serving and protecting the students,” she added.

Wright began her career in education with Charles County Public Schools in 1989 as a special education teacher at Walter J. Mitchell Elementary School. The first in her family to go to college, she studied early childhood education with the goals of working with young children and being able to make a difference in their lives. Her commitment to making a difference is evident in all that she does, and her students see that what she does supports their well-being.

Parks fifth grader Morgan Martin wrote a letter in support of Wright’s nomination and said students appreciate her hard work and see her commitment to their success. “I really appreciate all of the hard work she does for us students daily. She even lets us do fun stuff like fund raisers and field trips. Every time I see her or any other students at Parks, she greets us with a smile and she knows us by name. She is committed to her job, and all of the students, staff, teachers, and parents love her,” Martin wrote in her nomination letter.

To accommodate the needs of all learners, Wright works with Parks staff to customize programs and lessons, and shares strategies for use in the classroom. She coordinates weekly team planning sessions and monthly team leader meetings to discuss instructional practices and concerns, and solutions to better engage students. Wright dedicates time in her schedule to model classroom lessons, demonstrate guided reading groups and fills in the classroom when a substitute is needed. She also reviews interim reports and quarterly report cards to help monitor student progress and their possible need for additional assistance.

Ericka Akpeneye is a second-grade teacher at Parks. She said Wright not only leads by example, but helps her teachers grow as educators. “Mrs. Wright empowers her staff to strive for excellence by leading by example. She is equally dedicated to the needs of students and staff. She continually seeks ways to improve her craft. I have been fortunate that Mrs. Wright has helped me grow during my career,” Akpeneye wrote in a nomination letter.

Wright also emphasizes team work and the idea that everyone in the Parks community is responsible for student success. At the start of this school year, she coordinated a staff training using color murals to emphasize the importance of understanding each other’s differences to better work together for the benefit of students. A Hero Wall in the main office highlights staff recognition from parents and fellow colleagues. Wright supports extracurricular activities for students and helped launch new opportunities for students such as the dream team, Unified basketball, the yearbook and chess clubs, and the Community Christmas event, which supports the Parks community during the holidays. Additionally, she is a strong supporter, and organizer, of the Mustang Marathon, the annual fundraiser hosted by Parks in which everyone from the school community – students, staff, parents and volunteers – walk laps in the school parking lot to raise money for the school.

Charna Brooks, a learning resource teacher at Parks, said Wright embodies all of the qualities of a great leader. “Thadine has created a learning environment for all, staff and student alike, that is nurturing, safe, and a great place to learn and teach. She makes you feel appreciated and valued. That’s what a great leader can do! Uplift! Motivate! She always inspires us with her words ‘do what’s best for our students,’” Brooks wrote in an award nomination letter.

Before being named principal at Parks in 2011, Wright served as principal of Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer Elementary School for four years. Prior to her appointment as an elementary school principal, Wright served as a vice principal at Jenifer during the 2006-07 school year, and as a vice principal at Parks from 2002 to 2006. Additionally, Wright was a teacher with CCPS for more than 13 years and worked with students at Mitchell, Mary H. Matula and Berry elementary schools. She said her former administrators helped her pursue her desire to become a school principal.

“I feel everybody brought to me becomes my responsibility to educate, and I have a duty to protect them from negative influences. My former administrators helped me to be dedicated and vocal toward this goal, and I realized I needed a bigger platform to serve and protect students – which being a principal provides me with every day,” Wright said.

Additional recognitions Wright has received during her career include a 2011 Governor’s Citation for the Maryland Principals Academy, the Charles County Public Schools 2006 Vice Principal of the Year award and the Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO) 1997 Mathematics Teacher of the Year award. She has a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master’s degree in education from Duquesne University.

The Washington Post each year honors outstanding principals throughout the metropolitan area through its educational foundation. A committee reviews nominations throughout the school system and one principal is chosen to represent Charles County in the program as its Principal of the Year. The Washington Post Education Foundation will honor Wright during a ceremony and reception for the recipients of the Distinguished Educational Leadership Awards in May. She will be recognized by the Board of Education at the June 9 meeting.

Somers teacher named Post’s Agnes Meyer award recipient

Allen Hopkins.
Allen Hopkins.

At Milton M. Somers Middle School, students refer to Allen Hopkins’ social studies classroom as a time machine. When he teaches, Hopkins brings history to life by using interactive strategies such as role playing to put his students in the place of historical figures so they can experience history for themselves. His ability to infuse curriculum and historical content into creative and engaging lessons excites his students and earns their full attention. “It is crucial that my students understand history isn’t just important politicians, heroic generals, and vocal statesmen. History is all of us,” Hopkins said.

Hopkins strives to present history as an interconnected series of stories so his students not only understand the content, but learn that events of the past affect the present and future. Among his peers, Hopkins is known as a leader and role model. He is well respected among Somers staff, who admire his commitment to teaching and learning. For his passion for history education and student success, Hopkins was selected as the 2015 recipient of the Washington Post’s Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Award.

Hopkins said he is honored to receive the recognition and credits his success as a teacher to the staff and students at Somers. “I know Charles County has hundreds of outstanding teachers and it is amazing to know that I was selected to receive this recognition. While the award recognizes individuals who demonstrate excellence in the classroom, I owe a lot of my success to the teachers, administrators, counselors, ILT, support staff, parents, and most of all, students of Milton Somers Middle School. There is no better place to work, learn, and grow as a student and professional,” he said.

Hopkins began his teaching career with Charles County Public Schools at Somers in 2003 and is well liked among students. Deborah Simmons teaches math next to Hopkins’ classroom and said she often overhears “lively discussions” about history among his students. “He makes history fun by planning engaging activities. Actually, I would like to take his class. I don’t remember my history classes as being as engaging and exciting,” Simmons wrote in her award nomination letter.

Somers Principal Carrie Akins is in her first year as the lead administrator at the school and said Hopkins’ passion for teaching and commitment to professionalism are evident in all that he does. “As a building administrator, Mr. Hopkins is the type of teacher I treasure working with. Mr. Hopkins embodies all that is ‘right’ about education and he is so absolutely deserving of this accolade and so many more,” Akins wrote in a letter of support of Hopkins’ nomination.

Hopkins said his inspiration to pursue a career in education evolved when he was a high school student. He credits two of his former history teachers – Mr. Russell and Mr. Lisanti – with instilling in him a love for history. “These two men had a way of bringing the past to life for me in a way that no one had done before. The absolute passion for history and government that poured out of them every minute of the class period infected me with a love for history that continues to grow. It is this eagerness and love for learning that I aspire to instill in my own students,” Hopkins said.

Among the student body at Somers, Hopkins is known as a role model. In his role as a co-sponsor of the National Junior Honor Society, students say that Hopkins demonstrates leadership and encourages students to do the same. “I am in NJHS and one of the main attributes of the club is to show leadership. Mr. Hopkins demonstrates leadership on a daily basis, and that encourages us to follow his lead and do the same. He is an excellent person to look up to, and is one of the best teachers I have had in a very long time,” former Somers student Catherine Murphy wrote in a nomination letter.

In addition to teaching United States history and co-sponsoring the National Junior Honor Society, Hopkins serves as the social studies department chair and eighth-grade team leader. He also coordinates the annual schoolwide geography bee and history fair, as well as quarterly student recognition programs and the eighth-grade promotion ceremony. In these roles, Hopkins is known for his commitment and dedication to student and school success.

Katie Christiansen-Davis is a language arts teacher at Somers and has taught with Hopkins for nearly 12 years. She said he demonstrates outstanding leadership and dedication that help improve the learning environment at Somers. “Allen Hopkins undoubtedly deserves to be recognized as an outstanding teacher. His organization, attitude, and support for his students demonstrate what a remarkable educator does on a daily basis. It is evident that teaching is a passion to him and not just a profession,” Christiansen-Davis wrote in her nomination letter.

Earlier this school year, Hopkins was named the 2014 Secondary Social Studies Teacher of the Year by the Maryland Council for Social Studies, Inc. (MDCSS). The award honors teachers for exemplary leadership in social studies education, and those who exhibit professionalism while working with students, staff and the community. Additionally, this is the fourth consecutive year that Somers staff have nominated Hopkins for the Post’s Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Award. A majority of the letters written on behalf of Hopkins’ nomination describe his ability to engage students in history.

“History has always been a bit dull for me. But Mr. Hopkins made me care. The people in my books are no longer dull descriptions; they’re real people. He wants you to know the causes behind the outcomes and to know how the past became the present. He wants you to try and to succeed,” former Somers student Rachel Chambers wrote in a nomination letter.

Hopkins said he shares the honor with his colleagues and the Somers community. “I share this honor with all of my fellow Seahawks and thank them for their support, guidance, and inspiration throughout my teaching career. I have learned so much from all of them and hope to represent Milton Somers and Charles County well,” he added.

The Washington Post each year honors outstanding teachers throughout the metropolitan area through its educational foundation. A committee reviews nominations throughout the school system and one teacher is chosen to represent Charles County in the program as its Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Award recipient. The Washington Post Education Foundation in May will honor Hopkins during a ceremony. He will be recognized by the Board of Education at their June 9 meeting.

Hopkins has a bachelor’s degree in social sciences from Frostburg State University, and a master’s degree in American history from American Public University.

The Post established the Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Awards in honor of Agnes Meyer, a supporter of public education who was the wife of Eugene Meyer, who purchased the Post in 1933.

Employees honored for years of service to school system

The Board of Education honored employees for 45, 40, 35, 30 and 25 years of service on April 10. Recognized for 45 years of service were, front row from left, Rosalee Reeves, third-grade teacher, J.P. Ryon Elementary School; and Concitta Walls, college and career advisor, Henry E. Lackey High School. Honored for 40 years of service were, back row, from left: Lucile Rice, instructional specialist, Piccowaxen Middle School; William Fisher, fifth-grade teacher, Dr. Thomas L. Higdon Elementary School; and Cynthia Baker, director, hearing officer/court liaison, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building.
The Board of Education honored employees for 45, 40, 35, 30 and 25 years of service on April 10. Recognized for 45 years of service were, front row from left, Rosalee Reeves, third-grade teacher, J.P. Ryon Elementary School; and Concitta Walls, college and career advisor, Henry E. Lackey High School. Honored for 40 years of service were, back row, from left: Lucile Rice, instructional specialist, Piccowaxen Middle School; William Fisher, fifth-grade teacher, Dr. Thomas L. Higdon Elementary School; and Cynthia Baker, director, hearing officer/court liaison, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building.

The Board of Education on Friday, April 10 honored several Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) employees for their years of service to the school system and children during a ceremony held at the Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building. Honored were those employees who have contributed to the school system with careers that total 45, 40, 35, 30 or 25 years.

Six employees were honored for 45 years of service to the school system. They are Garnet Anderson, school counselor, John Hanson Middle School; Daniel Fenwick, truck driver, school system warehouse; Rosalee Reeves, third-grade teacher, J.P. Ryon Elementary School; Barbara Tillman, secretary to the principal, Berry Elementary School; Concitta Walls, college and career advisor, Henry E. Lackey High School; and Mary Young, accounting assistant, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building.

The Board of Education hosts a years of service ceremony annually to recognize employees. Additionally, the Board honored 76 other CCPS employees with 40, 35, 30 and 25 years of service.

Employees with 40 years of service are:

-- Cynthia Baker, director hearing officer/court liaison, Starkey;

-- William Fisher, fifth-grade teacher, Dr. Thomas L. Higdon Elementary School;

-- Lucile Rice, instructional specialist, Piccowaxen Middle School;

-- Joseph Thomas, English teacher, La Plata High School; and

-- Mary Woodland, kindergarten instructional assistant, Arthur Middleton Elementary School.

Employees with 35 years of service are:

-- Carol Briscoe, kindergarten instructional assistant, T.C. Martin Elementary School;

-- Bonnie Brown, science teacher, Milton M. Somers Middle School;

-- Joyce Campbell, gifted education resource teacher, Starkey;

-- Kim Debora Taylor, kindergarten teacher, William B. Wade Elementary School;

-- Judith Howell, mathematics teacher, La Plata;

-- Mark Howell, social studies teacher, Westlake High School;

-- Drew Jepsky, director of instructional assessment, Starkey;

-- Paul Jones, maintenance worker, Radio Station Road Annex Building;

-- Mary McCauley, kindergarten teacher, Martin;

-- Varlenia McCoy-Scott, business education teacher, Lackey;

-- Diane Morgan, language arts teacher, Hanson;

-- Sylvia Neale, kindergarten instructional assistant, Mary B. Neal Elementary School;

-- Shirley Olup, kindergarten instructional assistant, Walter J. Mitchell Elementary School;

-- Debra Patterson, kindergarten teacher, Mitchell;

-- Anita Riggans, special education teacher, General Smallwood Middle School; and

-- Jane Thoman, specialist in mathematics, Starkey.

Employees with 30 years of service are:

-- Sandy Andrews, secretary to the principal, Gale-Bailey Elementary School;

-- Carolyn Crouse, food service manager, Neal;

-- Marsha Dawes, special education instructional assistant, Thomas Stone High School;

-- Mary Downs, business education teacher, Lackey;

-- Shirley Farren, secretary, Radio Station Road Annex I Building;

-- Linda Hollomon, fifth-grade teacher, Malcolm Elementary School;

-- Richard Kelly, special education teacher, Mattawoman Middle School;

-- Clifford Nagle, athletic director, La Plata;

-- Vivian Nelson, special education teacher, Stone;

-- Pomie Radcliff, physical education teacher, Mary H. Matula Elementary School;

-- Louis Sweetney, building service assistant manager, North Point High School;

-- Joy Thompson, middle school reading teacher, Somers.

Employees with 25 years of service are:

-- Hassan Adeeb, social studies teacher, Westlake;

-- Bonnetta Adeeb, special education teacher, Stone;

-- Theresa Alo, art teacher, North Point;

-- Joanne Anderson, media instructional assistant, Ryon;

-- Kimberly Bean, first-grade teacher, William A. Diggs Elementary School;

-- Jody Beard, reading kindergarten instructional assistant, Indian Head Elementary School;

-- Carol Brock, reading middle school instructional assistant, Somers;

-- Debra Calvert, principal, Dr. James Craik Elementary School;

-- Valerie Chase, second-grade teacher, Dr. Gustavus Brown Elementary School;

-- Elaine Coombs, special education teacher, Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer Elementary School;

-- Jacqueline Couvillon, vice principal, Martin;

-- Paul Dunlevy, elementary science teacher, Dr. Samuel A. Mudd Elementary School;

-- Linda Dunlevy, language arts teacher, Matthew Henson Middle School;

-- Ann Fabian, job placement technical specialist, Robert D. Stethem Educational Center;

-- Karen Fowler, pupil personnel worker, Starkey;

-- Dorothy Gannon, elementary science teacher, Eva Turner Elementary School;

-- Debra Gent, pupil personnel worker, Starkey;

-- Bridgette Greathouse, food service worker, Somers;

-- Kerry Grosche, auto collision repair teacher, North Point;

-- James Gross, building service worker, Berry;

-- John Haldeman, art teacher, Wade;

-- Pamela Hawkins, building service manager, Higdon;

-- Nancy Jeffrey, German teacher, Stone;

-- Linda Keyton, third-grade teacher, Wade;

-- Carrie Lamb, instructional resource teacher, Brown;

-- Donald Layton, physical education teacher, Lackey;

-- Mary Long, vice principal, Ryon;

-- Janet Lutz, third-grade teacher, Malcolm;

-- Joseph McMahan, third-grade teacher, Brown;

-- Cynthia McRoy, fixed asset/purchasing analyst, Starkey;

-- Amy Miller, reading resource teacher, Mattawoman;

-- Kathy Perriello, principal, Smallwood;

-- Linnea Proctor, building service manager, Mitchell;

-- Karen Robertson, secretary to the principal, Diggs;

-- Christina Saylor, secretary, La Plata;

-- Joy Sheff, secretary, Gale-Bailey;

-- Thomas Smallwood, building service assistant manager, Brown;

-- Patricia Trader, pre-school instructional assistant, C. Paul Barnhart Elementary School;

-- Wendy Wenk, food service worker, La Plata;

-- Stephanie Wesolowski, principal, Theodore G. Davis Middle School;

-- Deanna Wheeler, elementary science teacher, J.C. Parks Elementary School;

-- Olivia Willis, second-grade teacher, Brown; and

-- Thadine Wright, principal, Parks.

Featured Sponsor

Southern Maryland Higher Education Center
USMSM also offers facilities for your special events or corporate meetings!

Reader Comments

Featured Sponsor

John R. Griffiths, III - Florida Sun Real Estate, Keller William
Leave the snow behind for the warm Florida sun!

Need Legal Representation?

Five So. Maryland locations to serve you. Personal Injury, Criminal Defense, DUI Defense.

Follow SoMd HL News