News Release, Charles County Public Schools

Two Charles County Public Schools educators achieved national certification last month from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). National Board Certified Teachers complete a rigorous assessment process to be eligible for the designation.

Casey Cleary of Benjamin Stoddert Middle School

Casey Cleary of Benjamin Stoddert Middle School and Sonia Matthew of Milton M. Somers Middle School join 36 other CCPS educators who completed the process to become nationally certified. The assessment measures what accomplished educators should know. Candidates must demonstrate how their instruction enhances both student performance and achievement.

Cleary teaches seventh-grade math at Stoddert, where she has taught for the past seven years. She earned National Board Certification in the area of mathematics/early adolescence. Cleary currently teaches seventh-grade compacted math and Algebra 1. She said she chose to pursue national certification to challenge herself and improve as a teacher for her students. “I wanted to become a reflective practitioner and be the best teacher I could be for my students. This process was so rewarding,” Cleary said.

Cleary has a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, both from College of Saint Rose in Albany, N.Y. She is pursuing her administration certification from McDaniel College. Cleary said she once had a student tell her how important she was in his life, and she keeps that memory with her daily.

“There was a student in my second year of teaching who was struggling to pass. We worked every day after school for weeks to build his knowledge. At the end of the year, he wrote in my yearbook ‘Thank you for never giving up on me.’ That has stayed with me every day since then,” Cleary said.  

Matthew is the administrative assistant at Somers and started her career with CCPS in 2016. She earned National Board Certification in the area of literacy: reading-language arts/early and middle childhood.

Prior to joining CCPS, Matthew taught with Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) for several years. During her career with PGCPS, Matthew also served as a talented and gifted coordinator, reading specialist and Maryland State Department of Education master teacher. Additionally, Matthew taught for 10 years in Texas, from 1998 to 2008, in kindergarten through Grade 8 in the areas of special education, gifted and talented, and Title I programs.

Sonia Matthew of Milton M. Somers Middle School 

For Matthew, the process to achieve national certification was about reflecting on her career as a teacher. “When I was in the classroom, I was always very reflective. I wanted to be the best for each and every student. The process allowed me to learn and reflect continually while using research-based methodologies to best reach all students,” Matthew said.

Matthew has an educational doctorate degree and attended the University of Ottawa, Canada for her undergraduate studies. She said educators are fortunate to be in a profession where they can make a difference each day. “Every day is full of memorable moments and that is what I absolutely love about this work. We get to touch lives every moment of the day,” Matthew said.

National Board Certified Teachers must complete a review of their skills and work that includes a portfolio, student work samples, videos, and a thorough analysis of their classroom teaching and student learning. Teachers also complete a series of written exercises designed to probe the depth of their subject-matter knowledge and understanding of how to teach that material to students.

Cleary and Matthew join more than 3,800 nationwide educators who completed the certification process in 2019. Certification is valid for 10 years after which a teacher may complete the renewal process. Maryland has 3,328 nationally certified teachers and is one of the top 15 states with the highest participation in the certification process.

By achieving National Board Certification, CCPS teachers are eligible for a stipend as long as they maintain their certification status. Information about the application process is posted online at

David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...