News Release, Charles County Public Schools

The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) and the Maryland State Advisory Council on Gifted and Talented Education honored six Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) educators for their efforts and accomplishments in gifted education.

Kathy Morgan, principal of Dr. Thomas L. Higdon Elementary School, was honored with an Outstanding Educator in Gifted and Talented Education — Local School Administrator Award.

Kathleen Morgan, principal at Dr. Thomas L. Higdon Elementary School, was honored with an Outstanding Educator in Gifted and Talented Education – Local School Administrator Award.

Five CCPS teachers – Charna Brooks, Stacey Durham, Danielle Nagle, Michelle Simone and Christina Trest – were honored with Outstanding Educator in Gifted and Talented Education – Teacher as Leader Awards.

They were honored at a Feb. 11 ceremony held to honor the governor’s proclamation of February as Gifted and Talented Education Month. The ceremony was held at North County High School in Glen Burnie and sponsored by MSDE and the Maryland State Advisory Council on Gifted and Talented Education.

Morgan is a longtime CCPS elementary school principal with more than 20 years of leadership experience. Prior to joining CCPS, Morgan spent time with Prince George’s County Public Schools as a reading specialist, teacher and gifted and talented education coordinator at the elementary school level. She is an advocate for gifted education and encourages rigor for all students. Morgan supports gifted curriculum and holds students and staff accountable. She supports gifted curriculum for highly able students across all grade levels and provides classroom resources to support teachers. Morgan ensures all teachers are trained to effectively teach the gifted program and provides extended learning opportunities for those who need additional support. At the start of the school year, Morgan purchased more than 40 novels to supplement the fifth-grade gifted curriculum so each student could have their own book. Morgan collaborates with parents to expand the gifted program at Higdon. She is an active member of the school Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) and shares school program information with parents. Morgan also supports all gifted extracurricular programs such as Mathematics, Engineering and Science Achievement (MESA), Destination Imagination (DI), the math team and the Higdon chess team. She helps to secure meeting space, finds coaches, provides materials and gives whatever support is needed to ensure gifted programs are available for students.

Brooks is the learning resource teacher at J.C. Parks Elementary School. She has led the gifted program at Parks for the past four years. She is often found co-teaching with a gifted cluster teacher or working with a small group of gifted students. Brooks regularly models differentiated lesson plans for all teachers and offers schoolwide classroom management support. She creates professional learning sessions on gifted issues for all Parks teachers and shares gifted lessons regularly. Brooks regularly advocates for students in need of enrichment opportunities. She is the chess club facilitator at Parks and volunteers at both the CCPS chess tournaments and It’s Academic events annually. Additionally, Brooks is taking advanced math courses in order to help write enrichment and gifted math curriculum for CCPS.

Durham is the learning resource teacher at William B. Wade Elementary School. She has supported gifted education as a learning resource teacher for the past 10 years. Durham works with both teachers of advanced students and gifted students on a daily basis. She strives to connect with all advanced learners at Wade, including students in prekindergarten through second grade who demonstrate advanced learning behaviors. Durham takes time to get to know all students and is a strong advocate for gifted students. Durham helps to lead gifted curriculum writing; she has helped write and review gifted content in both reading and math. Durham works with the Wade chess club and helps at CCPS events, such as the CCPS annual chess tournaments. 

Nagle is a fourth-grade teacher at Mary B. Neal Elementary School. She has worked with the gifted program for the past seven years and is known for her exceptional ability to connect with students. Nagle challenges her gifted and talented students to excel and understands their needs. Using the gifted curriculum, Nagle has familiarized herself with learning strategies to provide students with challenging lessons that promote academic rigor. She uses math and reading assessments to guide her lessons. Nagle works closely with the learning resource teacher at Neal to ensure the needs of gifted students are met. She presents at the county level on shared inquiry discussions and is often observed by new teachers, as well as teachers from other schools. Nagle is well known among her colleagues as a teacher who demonstrates an exemplary model of differentiated instruction. She volunteers annually at the county DI tournament as a judge and supports all other gifted teachers at Neal.

Simone is a first-grade teacher at Dr. James Craik Elementary School. She works diligently to instruct her students at an advanced level. She uses gifted curriculum to enrich, challenge and nurture her students. Simone is able to instruct her students far beyond their current grade level. Simone collaborates with the learning resource teacher at Craik for help with lesson plans, and features centers and gifted activities in her classroom. She is known among her colleagues as a model teacher and invites others to observe instruction. Simone is organized and streamlines her teaching style in order to reach all students, especially those at the gifted level. She seeks additional professional development opportunities in gifted education and attends state gifted conferences. Simone shares her knowledge with colleagues and has completed additional course work in gifted education. She helps to write curriculum for reading, writing and social studies. Simone was also asked to lead the Project Lead the Way expansion at Craik. She is the lead launch teacher and provides training for teachers in kindergarten through second grade.

Trest is the learning resource teacher at General Smallwood Middle School and oversees both the gifted and testing programs. Her passion for working with students in the gifted program shows during her classroom visits and student conference sessions. Students seek Trest for guidance because she has established herself as a go-to resource for support. Trest leads Smallwood in the gifted identification process to ensure students are properly screened and receive appropriate gifted resources. She meets regularly with classroom teachers to ensure they have lesson plans and resources to support gifted learners. Trest monitors data to make sure students are correctly assigned to the gifted program. She presents gifted strategies during professional development sessions at the local, state and national levels. She researches and shares gifted education resources with Smallwood staff as well as among other learning resource teachers. Trest holds a parent night every year to provide information on the gifted program. During these events, Trest arranges student demonstrations. She is an advocate for the gifted learner and nominates students to be recognized by MSDE. She is well respected by administration, staff and students.

During the ceremony in which the CCPS educators were honored, 17 CCPS students were recognized for their accomplishments in gifted education. Read about the students on the CCPS website 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...