Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) recently honored its Teacher of the Year nominees in a virtual recognition video. The recognition featured nominees for the 2021 Washington Post Teacher of the Year and Charles County Teacher of the Year award programs. The Charles County Teacher of the Year, Dr. James Craik Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Alexis Eaton, was announced during the recognition. The recipient of the Charles County Washington Post finalist recognition will be announced later this month. The video is posted on YouTube here

Each year, two CCPS teachers are chosen to represent the school system in Teacher of the Year awards programs. The Washington Post finalist from CCPS represents the school system in the overall awards program in which one teacher from the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area is named the Washington Post Teacher of the Year. The Charles County Teacher of the Year honoree represents CCPS in the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) Maryland Teacher of the Year program in which one teacher receives the overall state honor.

Eaton was selected as the 2021 Charles County Teacher of the Year from among five finalists. The finalists include the following teachers.

  • Victoria Farrell, science teacher, Piccowaxen Middle School.
  • Brian Kuhn, vocal music teacher/choral director, St. Charles High School.
  • Anna James, business education teacher, Thomas Stone High School.
  • Jessica McCoy, academic mentor/language arts teacher, Benjamin Stoddert Middle School.

About the finalists

Alexis Eaton, fourth-grade teacher, Dr. James Craik Elementary School, 2021 Charles County Teacher of the Year. Eaton joined CCPS as a fifth-grade teacher at Craik in 2009. She transitioned to fourth grade in 2014 and loves what she does each day. Her passion for education is evident in her interactions with students. Eaton is committed to ensuring her students leave her class with a love for learning. Craik Vice Principal Jason Deihl said Eaton is an exemplary teacher. “She is an educator who values hard work, ensuring all students learn at high levels while also placing a priority on building relationships with both students and staff,” Deihl wrote in a nomination letter.

Victoria Farrell, science teacher, Piccowaxen Middle School. Farrell has been teaching at Piccowaxen since 2015 and teaches eighth-grade science. She began her career with CCPS in 2008 as a science teacher at Benjamin Stoddert Middle School. Farrell also has experience teaching at the high-school level. At Piccowaxen, Farrell is the science department chair, environmental and Mathematics, Engineering and Science Achievement (MESA) clubs sponsor and coordinator of the student service-learning program. Piccowaxen Vice Principal Shayna Gold said Farrell is a role-model educator for students. “She has proven herself to be a natural leader, thoughtful professional and sensational classroom teacher,” Gold wrote in a nomination letter.

Brian Kuhn, vocal music teacher/choral director, St. Charles High School. Kuhn started his career with CCPS in 2010 as the choral director at Henry E. Lackey High School. He joined the teaching staff at St. Charles in 2014 and is well known for his passion for the arts. Kuhn inspires students to explore performing arts programs. He celebrates the hard work and passions of students, and always encourages students to have fun while pursuing their goals. Kuhn launched the show choir program at St. Charles and successfully helped to create a performing arts booster group. St. Charles Principal Richard Conley said Kuhn recognizes the importance of an arts-inclusive education. “He is a fierce advocate for any chance to expose his students or our programs to opportunities that will expand their horizons and offer new experiences,” Conley wrote in a nomination letter.

Anna James, business education teacher, Thomas Stone High School. James has been teaching business education classes at Stone since 2006. She is the career and technical education (CTE) department chair, Synergy coordinator and helped to create the business management program completer for students. James currently teaches business management and accounting classes. She is well known among her colleagues as a master teacher who can easily adapt her teaching strategies to reach all levels of learners. Students leave James’ class with a desire to learn and achieve success. Gretchen Salopek, a school counselor at Stone, said James is a teacher who values each of her students and is committed to their success. “The instruction she provides encourages students to think differently, designing products that would be desirable to all teens or recognizing how buying an expensive car can affect the rest of their financial life,” Salopek wrote in a supporting nomination letter.

Jessica McCoy, academic mentor/language arts teacher, Benjamin Stoddert Middle School. McCoy started her teaching career with CCPS in 2006. She has worked with students in developmental, grade-level and enrichment classes, as well as those enrolled in gifted courses. Her background is in language arts but McCoy took on the role of academic mentor in 2018. In this role, she works with and supports teachers with planning, classroom management, assessments, professional practice and relationship building with students. McCoy models instructional strategies and co-teaches when her colleagues need additional classroom support. Stoddert Principal Erica Williams said McCoy is a catalyst for growth and development. “At every leg of our journey, individuals who demonstrate unwavering commitment to our school community strengthen Benjamin Stoddert. Mrs. McCoy is one of those individuals. Her proactive approach to meeting the needs of students and staff has helped to redefine our approach to professional development and differentiation,” Williams wrote in a nomination letter.

Other nominees honored in this year’s Teacher of the Year awards programs include the following teachers.

Nominees from CCPS Centers

Marilin Musser, Spanish teacher, Robert D. Stethem Educational Center. Musser has been teaching with CCPS since 2008. She has held several positions with the school system, from a Spanish instructor with the home and hospital program, to working with students in the evening high school and Virtual Academy programs. Musser designs and implements dynamic lessons to reach different levels of learners. She teaches with high expectations and compassion. Her goal is to ensure students are learning listening, speaking, reading and writing skills through Spanish. Musser was instrumental in helping more than 90 students in the grade-recovery process last summer during the 2020 Summer School program. Her instructional methods were used to guide teachers in virtual learning this school year. Stethem Principal Curry Werkheiser said Musser is a leader in alternative education. “She is compassionate and always concerned about her students’ well-being. Her efforts during the summer of 2020 kicked off an era of true virtual instruction in our school system,” Werkheiser wrote in a nomination letter.

Elementary School Nominees

Ayesha Williams, reading resource teacher, C. Paul Barnhart Elementary School. Williams has been teaching with CCPS since 2009. She began her career as a fourth-grade teacher at Barnhart. She has served as a team leader and is the Formative Assessment for Maryland Education Facilitator (FAME) for Barnhart. In her FAME role, Williams helps teachers develop assessments and hosts professional development on instructional strategies. Williams took on the role of reading resource teacher in 2014 and helps to support all students with reading. She shares best practices to increase student literacy skills and is a member of the School Improvement Committee. Barnhart Principal Brian King said Williams is an invaluable asset to the teaching team at the school. “She positively impacts teaching and learning by supporting teachers and working directly with small groups of students. She accomplishes all tasks with high expectations for herself and her students,” King wrote in a nomination letter.

David Cusack, vocal music teacher, Billingsley Elementary School. Cusack has more than 20 years of music education teacher and first joined CCPS in 2008. He taught at Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer Elementary School for 11 years and moved to Billingsley in 2019 when the school opened. In his role, Cusack teaches general music to students in kindergarten through Grade 4. He also leads the fifth-grade chorus. Students love his class. Cusack has the ability to show students the world of music that makes them love the content. He is the special areas team leader and collaborates with instrumental music teachers to plan concerts and music events. Cusack also planned a schoolwide virtual holiday sing-along this past winter. Billingsley Principal Sabrina Robinson-Taylor refers to Cusack as the “child whisperer.” “He presents with such a quiet calmness that it is hard for anyone to be upset in his presence. He is very intuitive about what students need. He works with students where they are and helps them feel more successful about themselves in no time,” Robinson-Taylor wrote in a nomination letter.

Alyssa Wheeler, physical education teacher, William A. Diggs Elementary School. Wheeler began her career with CCPS in 2011 at William B. Wade Elementary School. Since joining CCPS, Wheeler has also taught at Mattawoman Middle School and Mary H. Matula Elementary School. Her lessons are exciting and engaging for students. Students see her passion for teaching and work hard to put forth their best effort in her class. She aspires to be a role model for both students and staff in promoting physical fitness. Wheeler is well known among her colleagues for her ability to build strong relationships with students. She maintains a positive and welcoming tone and takes the time to get to know each of her students. Wheeler has served in department chair roles and is the Synergy gradebook trainer at Diggs. She has also presented at state physical education conferences. Diggs Principal Debra Calvert said Wheeler is an outstanding educator. “Students in her class are always interested and engaged in the task at-hand. She understands the active nature of student learning and expertly weaves information and movement into her lessons to achieve desired outcomes,” Calvert wrote in a nomination letter.

Stephanie Mooneyham, fourth-grade teacher, Gale-Bailey Elementary School. Mooneyham has been teaching with CCPS since 2006. She first began her career at William A. Diggs Elementary School where she taught students in Grades 3-5. Mooneyham moved to Gale-Bailey in 2018. She is the fourth-grade team leader and exemplifies a love for teaching in the classroom. Her lessons are meaningful, engaging and fun for students. She holds her students to high standards and strives to bring out their best. Mooneyham’s colleagues refer to her as a talented and dedicated teacher. Mooneyham strives to model hard work, dedication and problem solving so her students learn skills necessary for academic and personal success. Gale-Bailey Principal Tangie Scales said Mooneyham is a dedicated educator. “Ms. Mooneyham is a natural leader. She has a take charge attitude. She wants to get it right for her students, her colleagues and herself. She is always willing to collaborate and problem solve for families and staff. She is without a doubt the kind of educator that will continue to lead staff and motivate children,” Scales wrote in a nomination letter.

Linda Bieber, kindergarten teacher, Malcolm Elementary School. Bieber is a veteran CCPS teacher. The 2020-21 school year is her 40th year in education and year 35 at Malcolm. She began her career with CCPS at Malcolm in 1986. She has taught both kindergarten and first grade and thrives off student success. Bieber is kind, caring and passionate in her interactions with students. Her priority in the classroom is her students’ desire to learn and achieve. Bieber is known among her colleagues as a teacher who encourages the individual talents of students and fosters each child’s self-esteem. She has held roles as the grade-level team leader and mentored high school students enrolled in the Teacher Academy of Maryland (TAM) program. Bieber is also an active member of the Malcolm Parent-Teacher-Organization (PTO) and the school interview panel for new hires. Malcolm Principal Mary Finneran said Bieber is an outstanding educator. “Mrs. Bieber can see our children’s child-eye view of life and she makes learning for them fun and exciting but also consistent and comfortable. You can see the peace in their spirits as they strive to achieve success,” Finneran wrote in a nomination letter.

Kimberly DiNatale, third-grade teacher, Mary H. Matula Elementary School. DiNatale began her career with CCPS in 2011 as an instructional assistant and later worked as a teacher intern. She joined Matula staff as a fifth-grade teacher in 2017 and then moved to third grade. She is the co-team leader and provides strong leadership for her peers. DiNatale has experience teaching both gifted and inclusion classes and with students in Grades 3-5. She demonstrates a commitment to students, a positive work ethic and desire for student growth. DiNatale volunteers for leadership roles and incorporates instructional technology to enhance learning. She also collaborates with her colleagues and parents to ensure her students are reaching their full potential. Her colleagues know her as a committed teacher who advocates for all students. Her lessons are engaging, and students work hard to meet her expectations. Matula Principal Carrie Richardson said DiNatale is an exemplary teacher. “Kim has the unique ability to build a rapport with all of her students. This connection helps her to teach even the most advanced concepts to her students easily, and she is truly marvelous to observe. Kim’s students feel safe in her classroom and they are willing to take risks because they know that she will support them on their path to success,” Richardson wrote in a nomination letter.

Erin Locke, special education teacher, Arthur Middleton Elementary School. Locke was hired by CCPS to teach at Middleton in 2015. She works with students in the ACHIEVE program, which stands for Academics, Communication, and Heightened Independence for Education, Vocation and Engagement. The program supports students with cognitive disabilities and Locke is a master ACHIEVE teacher. Her energy and passion for education is modeled in her lessons and interactions with students. She has served as the special education team leader and is the Middleton Buddies Program coordinator. The program bridges the gap between students with cognitive or physical disabilities and their peers. Her colleagues describe her as a teacher that exemplifies what it means to improve and grow. Middleton Principal Benjamin Harrington said Locke is an incredible role model and mentor. “She demonstrates an unmatched self-motivation which, in turn, motivates her team to be positive and supportive of students,” Harrington wrote in a nomination letter.

Keah Mason, fourth-grade teacher, Walter J. Mitchell Elementary School. Mason has been teaching with CCPS since 2010 and has worked with students in Grades 2-4. In addition to teaching at Mitchell, Mason has also taught at Indian Head Elementary School. Mason has served in leadership roles such as team leader and helps to write reading curriculum. She strives to build relationships with her students and treats both her colleagues and students with kindness and respect. Mason is well known among her colleagues as an organized, structured and committed teacher who shares best practices and successful instructional strategies with her peers. Mason has an internal drive to reflect on her teaching daily and strives to improve where she can. Her learning environment for students is positive and exciting; her students take an active lead role in their learning. Mitchell Principal Nicholas Adam said Mason is a true asset to the Mitchell school community. “Her content knowledge is as excellent as her work ethic. She possesses the energy and initiative to support others. Her tireless dedication and care for the school, staff, and students is remarkable,” Adam wrote in a nomination letter.

Diane Sumler, third-grade teacher, Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy Elementary School. Sumler has been teaching with CCPS for the past 16 years. She has worked with students in Grades 2-4 and is passionate about student success. She teaches with passion and models the idea that every child can be successful and grow in their learning. Sumler challenges her students to set and achieve goals and helps to support their self-esteem. She encourages her students to do their best and is committed to advocating for children. Each school year, Sumler forms bonds with her students and their families to support the home-to-school partnership. With a solid foundation, Sumler builds positive student relationships. She leads by example, is driven by an enormous heart and makes a difference in the lives of each student in her class. Her colleagues refer to Sumler as an exceptional teacher who strives for perfection. Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy Principal Nancy Seifert said Sumler is a passionate leader among her peers. “Mrs. Sumler works tirelessly to foster cooperative relationships with her colleagues and school community. Mrs. Sumler makes learning fun and engaging for her students. They love the challenges and the opportunities that are provided to learn new skills and apply them,” Seifert wrote in a nomination letter.

Rizpah Forbes, fourth-grade teacher, Dr. Samuel A. Mudd Elementary School. Forbes has been teaching with CCPS since 2006 and has taught Grades 2-4. She is a strong leader among her peers and serves as the grade-level team leader. Forbes challenges her students to achieve high levels of achievement and rewards them with positive praise for their hard work. She is known among her colleagues as a master of relationship building with students. Forbes’ goal for her students is for them to aspire to be better than the day before and make the most of each day.  Forbes also oversees Synergy as the program coordinator at Dr. Mudd. Her belief that all students can achieve high levels of success is evident in her daily interactions with both students and staff. Dr. Mudd Vice Principal Shellia Soderstrom said Forbes is an asset to the school community. “Mrs. Forbes’ passion for teaching is demonstrated through her lessons and relationships she builds with students and other members of the school community. Her students feel safe and excited to learn,” Soderstrom wrote in a nomination letter.

Kelsey Jones, fourth-grade teacher, J.C. Parks Elementary School. Jones has been teaching with CCPS since 2015 and has taught Grades 3-4. She is known among her colleagues as a master teacher and someone who goes out of her way to support students. Whether she is working with students during her planning time or talking about her favorite books during lunch bunch meetings, Jones is consistently surrounded by students. Two years ago, Jones took the initiative to regroup the Destination Imagination (DI) program at Parks. In a short time, 25 students were teamed up to compete in DI events. Jones gave up time during the evening and weekends to support the DI program and ultimately helped a team reach the state-level DI challenge. Jones is also well known for her relationship-building skills. Students who come to school with more challenges than others seek Jones for support because they trust her and know she is supportive. Parks Principal Greg Miller said Jones is an example of a standout teacher. “To enter into Kelsey’s classroom is to enter a world where students are dignified, learning is fun, and is a place of high expectations. Kelsey is quite the creative teacher; she loves learning and she shows it to the students. She’ll say, ‘I love this book we are about to read, it is one of my favorites,’ or some other phrase that lets the students know she is enthused about her teaching, and we should be enthused about our learning. And learn they do,” Miller wrote in a nomination letter.

Alicia Williams, kindergarten teacher, J.P. Ryon Elementary School. Williams has been teaching with CCPS since 2015 and has taught students in prekindergarten through first grade. Williams displays a love of teaching each day with her students. Her lessons are exciting, engaging and fun, and her students put forth their best effort in her class. Williams differentiates her lessons to ensure she is reaching all levels of young learners. She embraces struggling students and provides the necessary supports so they can achieve success. Williams also ensures her students learn what it means to be in a classroom community and about personal responsibility. Williams is the team leader at Ryon and is well known among her colleagues as a go-to resource for ideas on instructional strategies, best practices and working with inclusion students. Ryon Vice Principal Diedra Barnett said Williams exemplifies the school motto. “She has exemplified the true meaning of our school motto of Flying H.I.G.H (Honor, Integrity, Great and Hope). Ms. Williams demonstrates an exceptional level of teaching ability and teacher support,” Barnett wrote in a nomination letter.

Shelaine Beaver, first-grade teacher, Eva Turner Elementary School. Beaver has been teaching with CCPS since 2015 and was originally hired to teach fifth grade. She moved to a first-grade position the following school year and works tirelessly for her students. Beaver has a positive rapport with all students. They trust her and are eager to reach classroom goals because Beaver is kind and caring. Her students know their success is important and celebrated. Each day, she greets her students with a smile on her face. Beaver follows the concept of educating the “whole child” and focuses on academics, but also a strong social and emotional education. Her classroom is inviting and engaging. Beaver is also the first-grade team leader and school yearbook sponsor. She is sought out by her colleagues for support and advice. Beaver strives to build strong and supportive relationships with parents to emphasize the importance of the home-to-school connection. Turner Vice Principal Jason Peer said Beaver’s passion for teaching is infectious. “Whether it is a student, parent, or staff member, Mrs. Beaver loves helping others. She is caring and kind to those around her. She takes her charge as an educator seriously as she works tirelessly to hone her craft,” Peer wrote in a nomination letter.

Middle School Nominees

Yvette Motley, academic mentor/mathematics teacher, Theodore G. Davis Middle School. Motley started her career with CCPS in 2000 as an instructional specialist. Prior to joining CCPS, Motley taught at the elementary school level with Prince George’s County Public Schools. As an academic mentor at Davis, Motley works with new teachers and leads weekly and monthly instructional meetings. She shares instructional best practices and strategies and supports teachers in the classroom. She collaborates with school administrators to develop teaching plans and facilitates professional development on student data and school needs. Motley also teaches Algebra I to gifted enrichment students. Motley has served as a department chair and helped increase assessment achievements for students in math. She also oversees the formative assessment process at Davis as the FAME program coordinator. Motley is known among her colleagues as a skilled problem solver, role model leader and excellent communicator. Davis Principal Robert Griffiths said Motley is an example of an outstanding educational leader. “Mrs. Motley wears many hats here at Davis Middle School. Her teaching is top-notch. She serves as an academic mentor for new teachers. She is part of the Davis AVID team and FAME cohort. She leads professional learning communities, works directly with the school improvement team, and uses her free time to work with struggling students. She represents everything that Davis Middle School stands for,” Griffiths wrote in a nomination letter.

Teonna Scott, reading interventionist, John Hanson Middle School. Scott has been teaching with CCPS since 2012. She started her career in education as a third-grade teacher at J.C. Parks Elementary School and transitioned to Hanson in 2015. Scott taught seventh-grade language arts at Hanson for three years before moving into her current position as a reading interventionist. She primarily works with sixth and seventh graders to help build their reading and comprehension skills. Scott strives to help her students develop a love of learning and literacy. She is encouraging and kind in her interactions with students and their families. Scott works closely with language arts teachers and case managers to provide individualized lessons that not only meet the needs of individual students but challenges them as well. She seeks leadership opportunities; she has been a team leader, sponsor of the school newspaper club and participant in both the World Culture Night and Black History Month committees. She is also the school’s FAME program facilitator and helps to write curriculum for the Maryland Comprehensive Assessment Program. Hanson language arts teacher Taiya Parham said Scott helped her transition to teaching. “Three years ago when I first began teaching, Ms. Scott was one of the few who came to help with any and everything. Her reason for helping was because she knew how it felt to be a new teacher. During hard, stressful moments, she was always there. Teonna is not only a teacher in our school. She is an educator, friend, advisor, mentor and hard worker,” Parham wrote in a nomination letter.

Erin Lewis, science teacher, Matthew Henson Middle School. Lewis has been teaching at Henson since 2017 and teaches eighth-grade science. She is a co-team leader and AVID certified teacher. Prior to joining CCPS, Lewis spent several years as a teacher with Florence Unified School District in Arizona and Pinal County Education Service Agency. Lewis strives to ensure all her students are engaged in course content. Her lessons are exciting and help students connect what they are learning to real-world scenarios. Lewis wants her students to leave her class with a new appreciation for science and how it affects the world around them. She encourages her students to become lifelong learners and inspires them to investigate, research and experiment. Lewis is known among her colleagues for her ability to help her students love and appreciate science. Lewis has served as sponsor to the National Junior Honor Society and helps to write science and STEM curriculum. Henson Principal Christina Caballero said Lewis’ passion for science helps to engage students. “Mrs. Lewis puts in maximum effort both during and after school hours to ensure her students find success. During our time in distance learning, she is still in the building on a daily basis and creating labs for students to participate in from a far. She provides students with an opportunity to develop their talents while finding success in a supportive, yet challenging environment,” Caballero wrote in a nomination letter.

Melissa James, social studies teacher, Mattawoman Middle School. James has been teaching with CCPS since 2009. She began teaching language arts at General Smallwood Middle School and moved to Mattawoman in 2013. She taught language arts at Mattawoman for one year before moving to a social studies position. Prior to joining CCPS, James taught with school districts in Arizona and Michigan. As an experienced language arts teacher, James combines reading and writing elements into her lessons and assignments. Her goal is to strengthen the reading skills of her students. James said she moved from a language arts to social studies position because she has a love of history. Her love of history is evident in her lessons, assignments and the passion she has when teaching different historical units and events. She is known among her colleagues as a master teacher who is dedicated to her students. James takes the time to ensure her students are mastering concepts in the classroom. She has high expectations for students. She treats them with kindness and respect but is firm and consistent in her classroom management. History is alive in her classroom as James strives to teach in a way that will gain and keep the attention of her students. James also strives to be a leader among her peers. She has served in leadership roles such as department chair, team leader and PBIS committee chairperson. Mattawoman Principal Sonia Blue said James is an exemplary teacher. “Melissa sets high expectations for her students then works tirelessly to help them rise to her expectations. Melissa keeps a classroom environment that is both engaging and conducive for learning,” Blue wrote in a nomination letter.

Carla Joyner, language arts teacher, General Smallwood Middle School. Joyner first joined CCPS in 1999 as a substitute teacher. She transitioned from the role of instructional assistant and student teacher before taking a language arts position at Smallwood in 2012. She currently teaches eighth-grade language arts. Teaching is a second career for Joyner after discovering teaching was her passion. Joyner is known among students as a fun teacher who is patient and flexible. She leads by example and is regarded by her colleagues as a gentle leader. Her commitment to student success is evident in her efforts in the classroom. Parents of students in Joyner’s class know she is committed to their child’s success. She sets high expectations for her students but supports them along the way. She is the AVID coordinator at Smallwood and co-sponsors the National Junior Honor Society. Joyner has also served in the role of team leader and Spelling Bee coach. She has led professional development sessions on teaching in a hybrid classroom, and completed the AVID, Restorative Practices and FAME program certification.  Smallwood Principal Brenda Tillotson said Joyner was meant to be a teacher. “I believe the path that Mrs. Joyner has taken has made her truly love teaching. It is like she has found the road that she was always meant to travel. Because of her, General Smallwood is a better place and our students are better served,” Tillotson wrote in a nomination letter.

High School Nominees

Jonathon Liston, mathematics/engineering teacher, Henry E. Lackey High School. Liston is a graduate of CCPS and started his teaching career with the school system in 2002. During his tenure at Lackey, Liston has taught a variety of classes including Algebra 1 and Algebra II, as well as engineering. He is certified to teach the Project Lead the Way (PLTW) engineering curriculum. The courses range from introduction to engineering design and digital electronics, to computer integrated manufacturing and engineering design and development. Liston works to motivate students and instill in them a desire to learn and achieve. He helps his students target their strengths and weaknesses and meets with them outside of class time for study groups and support sessions. His students see his passion for teaching and strive to meet his expectations. Liston is well respected among not only his students but his colleagues for his commitment to ensuring students leave Lackey with a love for learning. He builds and maintains positive relationships with both students and his colleagues. Liston also excels in leadership roles. He is the engineering department chair and has served as class sponsor, MESA coach and supports VEX Robotics. Lackey Principal Kathy Perriello said Liston is an exemplary teacher. “As the former principal of the primary feeder school to Lackey, I had always heard about the all-star favorite engineering teacher – Jonathon Liston. The reputation of the engineering department at Lackey has and continues to be in a league of its own,” Perriello wrote in a nomination letter.

Kevin Barry, social studies teacher, La Plata High School. Barry has been teaching at La Plata since 2006. His course load has featured classes such as Advanced Placement (AP) Human Geography, Local, State, and National Government (LSN), U.S. History, computer science and multimedia productions. Barry strives to infuse technology into his lessons, both as an instructional tool and to help students develop technology skills essential within the workforce. He engages students with enriched discussions, innovative technology to investigate real-world scenarios and problem solving through collaborative learning. Barry is passionate about technology, which led him to explore computer science and sponsoring a Girls Who Code club. Barry is well respected by his students. In each of his classes, Barry finds ways to make the material relevant to students not only to engage them in discussion and classroom activities but also to help them see how it can benefit them outside the classroom. Barry has led the girls’ varsity soccer team as its coach for the past 14 years. He instills in his student athletes a desire to perform, but also an understanding of teamwork and sportsmanship. He has received the National Team Ethics and Sportsmanship Platinum Award from the United Soccer Coaches Association twice. La Plata Principal Douglass Dolan said Barry stepped up to lead virtual classroom training at the start of the school year. “I received an email from Mr. Barry at the end of July letting me know that he would love to be a part of the team that helped train teachers for the virtual platforms and learning management system at the start of the year. On his own time, he attended planning meetings and led back-to-school sessions with teachers to set their minds at ease. I have seen Mr. Barry working with teachers to help them be their best for students,” Dolan wrote in a nomination letter.

Bethany Berkowitz, business education teacher, Maurice J. McDonough High School. Berkowitz has been teaching with CCPS for the past 14 years. Her course load includes classes in financial literacy, accounting, designing technology solutions, finance, advanced computer applications and keyboarding. Berkowitz strives to connect with and create relationships with each of her students. Her skill set in developing strong relationships with students allows her to help them develop a desire to learn and achieve. Berkowitz refers to her classroom as the “Class of Life” and her students agree. Her former students share their experiences in Berkowitz’s classroom with others and detail how her passion and energy helped influence their lives. She is the department chair for business and technology and Synergy coordinator. Berkowitz is committed to shaping the next generation of business leaders and consumers how to manage their personal finances. McDonough Parent Melissa Revell wrote a letter in support of Berkowitz’s nomination. Her son transferred to McDonough as a new student for his senior year. Revell was concerned about how he would adapt to a new setting, but said Berkowitz made her son feel at home. “He didn’t know anyone at the school. He had so many odds against him due to being new as a senior and being virtual. Mrs. Berkowitz helped make him feel like he had been a part of the Ram family for years. She allows her teaching to be relatable,” Revell wrote in a nomination letter.

Michael Serpone, social studies teacher, North Point High School. Serpone has been teaching with CCPS at North Point since the school opened in 2005. His classes include geography, U.S. History, AP World History and the cultural history of sports. Serpone created and piloted the cultural history of sports course for CCPS. He is certified by the College Board in AP World History and is currently pursuing National Board Certification. In the classroom, Serpone makes learning relevant and accessible. He holds high expectations for students but supports them as they strive for success. Serpone encourages students to set realistic goals and explore their highest potential. His students know they are respected and supported. Serpone does not simply lecture about history. He uses history education to help students discover and explore who they are and where they fit in the world. Serpone is also a supporter of student athletes. He is the head women’s basketball coach and has led his players to state championship events. His passion for teaching and love for athletics is evident in his work ethic and commitment to students. North Point Principal Daniel Kaple said Serpone is a role model for young adults. “His classroom instruction centers on active learning, where students initiate inquiry and exploration of content. Michael Serpone is an excellent teacher. Over the past several years he has successfully worked to make North Point a place where both students and teachers thrive,” Kaple wrote in a nomination letter.     

Jackson Long, drama/theatre arts teacher, Westlake High School. Long began his teaching career with CCPS in 2012. He has taught several performing arts classes, such as multimedia, theatre arts, film study and advanced acting. Long has also overseen yearbook publication and now works with the school’s AVID team. Long believes every student is capable of success and focuses on relationship building to earn the trust and respect of his students. He is known among his colleagues as a technology master and go-to resource of support. Long was sought out by several staff when starting the school year in a virtual platform. He has become the expert at Westlake in Zoom, Nearpod and other online learning applications. Long’s passion for teaching and helping students achieve goals is evident in all that he does. Long is also a leader among his peers. He co-directs the Westlake Theatre Company and oversees the school’s multimedia outreach program. Students in the multimedia outreach program facilitate the morning announcements and create videos for the school community. Long has also served as the yearbook sponsor, DI sponsor, PBIS coordinator, Class of 2020 sponsor and performing arts department chair. Westlake Principal Diane Roberts said Long is a dynamic leader. “It is not every day that a principal has the opportunity to work with such a dynamic teacher leader who exhibits excellence in the classroom. Not only is Mr. Long strong in instruction he is also a positive influence for both students and staff. It is an honor to work with him and learn from him,” Roberts wrote in a nomination letter.

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