Charles Co. Public Schools News Briefs

Comptroller visits Craik Elementary to tour open-space school

Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot visited Dr. James Craik Elementary School on Thursday, Oct. 15 to tour one of Charles County Public Schools’ open-space learning facilities and talked with school system leaders about design aspects of the school and programs available for students.

Craik Principal Debbie Calvert guided Franchot on the tour and was accompanied by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kimberly Hill. Franchot talked with Calvert about her school’s successes and asked her what she thought contributed to them. “We have great leadership here in Charles County under Dr. Hill. She promotes a vision we align to about school pride. Tiger pride is the motto here at Craik,” Calvert said.

The tour included stops to a first-grade and fifth-grade classroom, where Franchot talked with students about what they were learning. In Michelle Simone’s first-grade class, Franchot talked with students about the activity they were doing and listened along as Simone instructed her students to participate in an activity she had just recently learned at an elementary teacher in-service training. Franchot also gave Simone one of his coveted Comptroller gold coins he hands out to “Marylanders who make a difference.” In presenting the coin to Simone, Franchot thanked her for her efforts and told her class to give her a round of applause.

During a stop to the school’s computer lab, Franchot commented on how well the building was maintained and praised Calvert for the efforts of her staff to keep small learning spaces open, inviting and welcoming. Joining Franchot on the tour were Keith Hettel, CCPS assistant superintendent of supporting services, and David Clements, supervisor of planning and construction for CCPS. Hettel and Clements talked with Franchot about the roof replacement project that took place at the school in 2008 and future plans for a 9-acre solar field for an area located behind the school. Clements also talked about design aspects of Craik, components of the energy efficiency program featured and the recent kindergarten addition.

Maj. Dave Saunders from the Charles County Sheriff’s Office participated in the tour as Sheriff Troy Berry’s representative and talked with Franchot about the school resource officer program. Through the school resource officer program, a police officer is assigned to each middle and high school. These officers also serve the elementary schools. The program was piloted at Thomas Stone High School in 1999 as part of a partnership between CCPS and the Sheriff’s Office. The program expanded to all Charles County high schools by 2002 and into all middle schools in 2007. Franchot commented that the program is an invaluable resource.

Before the tour concluded, Franchot visited Ashley Bendert’s fifth-grade classroom and commented on how well her students handled the distraction of visitors coming in to her room. Franchot talked with her students about where they would be attending middle school and the importance of being focused learners.

During the tour, Dr. Hill spoke to Franchot about the partnership with and the school system’s focus on infusing computer science into curriculum for all students, from grades kindergarten through 12. CCPS staff were recently invited by to attend a national conference and model computer science practices in place in Charles County schools. Franchot was impressed with the school system’s efforts to advance learning opportunities for all students. He also talked with Hill about teacher and staff retention and discussed areas where CCPS recruits teachers from.

Also attending the tour were Charles County Commissioner Ken Robinson and Loraine Hennessy, Charles County Register of Wills. Prior to the tour, Franchot presented Calvert with a Comptroller gold coin and recognized an achievement she received earlier in her career, the Milken Educator Award, which she was honored with in 1999 while teaching language arts at John Hanson Middle School.

Graduates share their journey at adult program graduation

Martha Smith said she has always felt like a quitter. When the going got tough, she said, she got going. It was no different eight years ago when she turned 18 in January of her sophomore year. She quit high school as soon as she was legally old enough to withdraw herself.

Her days of quitting ended this year, and on Oct. 22, Smith emotionally shared her story of success as she accepted her high school diploma and spoke at the Lifelong Learning Center’s Class of 2015 graduation ceremony.

Smith was one of 17 new high school graduates receiving diplomas at the 36th annual Adult Education Program graduation held at North Point High School. Diplomas were presented to the following graduates: Kourteney Carter, Kevin Cummings, Danielle N. Gatling, Christopher Godbee, Keisha Hayes, Marcia C. Henry, Alexis Hesse, Imartiana A. I. Hunt, Keth Kankanamage, Cristina Poblano-Morales, Lillian Raines, Martha E. Smith, Martha Rodriguez, Jacqueline M. Sanchez, Jenet Smalling, Vilma Sosa and Yesli T. Velasquez. There were 63 graduates from the Lifelong Learning Center during the 2014-15 school year.

“I may have done this eight years after I was supposed to, but I did do it. … I told myself at the beginning that I just couldn’t let my four-year-old daughter start school this year if I hadn’t finished what I started when I was her age. I need her to know and understand that quitting isn’t, nor ever will be, an option,” Smith said.

“It took a lot of courage for you to walk through that door (Lifelong Learning Center) for the first time, but you didn’t let fear or anxiety stop you. You made the choice to do the hard thing; you made the choice to not let anything or anyone stand in your way. You had taken a brave step into your future... ,” Superintendent Kimberly Hill told the graduates.

Graduate Marcia Henry also shared her journey to earning a high school diploma. Growing up in Barbados, she said, presented a number of obstacles as she worked to complete her General Education Development (GED) diploma. Her journey began in July 2013 and the support she received from her teachers at the Lifelong Learning Center as well as from her family, helped her stay on track to graduate, even when she struggled with the material. “Earning the diploma was simple, but not easy,” Henry said while explaining the challenges she had to overcome.

Maryland State Senator Thomas “Mac” Middleton briefly spoke to the graduates saying, “I hope this is just the first degree you get.”

The General Educational Development (GED®) program offers adult basic education classes, English as a second language classes, GED® preparation classes and a Maryland high school diploma through GED® testing. The NEDP® is for adults 18 and older who have acquired high school level skills through life experiences. These adults can earn a Maryland high school diploma through work done at home and through evaluation appointments.

Grant funding from Maryland Literacy Works and the U.S. Department of Education supports the adult education programs. Both the GED® and National External Diploma programs are offered through Charles County Public Schools to county residents at the Lifelong Learning Center in Pomfret and various locations in Waldorf. Classes are held throughout the day and the evening. Call 301-753-1774 for more information.

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