Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) annually honors outstanding support services personnel in the areas of information technology, central office support, instructional assistant, food service, maintenance, secretary and building services. The awards program was established to recognize the roles support personnel have in maintaining the effective and efficient operations of the school system.
Honorees for 2021 include Juan Gilmer, a computer analyst at Berry Elementary School and Mattawoman Middle School; Kyle Graves, video production specialist, Annex II; Stephanie Jackson, reading intervention instructional assistant at William A. Diggs Elementary School; Victoria Langley, food and nutrition service manager at J.C. Parks Elementary School; Christopher Lombardi, security alarm technician III at the Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building; Marlana Spurr, principal’s secretary at Henry E. Lackey High School; and Victor Woodland, building service manager at North Point High School.
Gilmer has been with CCPS for three years. At first, he was assigned as a computer analyst (CA) at Mattawoman Middle School, and Berry and Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer elementary schools. As more CAs were brought on, Gilmer stayed with Berry and Mattawoman — the schools provide one of the largest workloads for a CA in the school system, Jill Warring, systems analyst II, said. “… And [he] handles it with ease,” she said. When schools went virtual due to the COVID-19 guidelines, Gilmer worked to prepare laptops for students. “Mr. Gilmer has helped the Berry community by ensuring that every student who needed technology received a laptop or hotspot,” Erin Loredo and Somer Crout, Berry attendance secretary and registration secretary, respectively, wrote in a nomination letter. He also helps teachers and parents feel more comfortable with technology. “[We] have witnessed Mr. Gilmer helping many parents who were feeling frustrated with the virtual learning process learn and leave feeling so relieved that they could help their children,” Loredo and Crout wrote. The staff at Mattawoman see Gilmer’s dedication firsthand, as well. “Teachers and staff depend on Mr. Gilmer to “fix” their technological concerns,” Mattawoman Principal Sonia Blue wrote. “He takes pride in his work and he never leaves a job undone.” Gilmer has a way of breaking down technology requests showcasing his knowledge and passion for his job. “He has continued to be the backbone of the technology department for Mattawoman during these unforeseen times,” Portia Parker, Mattawoman vice principal, wrote.
The story of CCPS is made more dynamic through the work Graves produces. As the school system’s video production specialist, he not only oversees the broadcast of Board meetings, he films and edits videos on student and staff accomplishments, graduations, programs, contests and events. When the school system was forced to close buildings due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Graves didn’t miss a beat and developed ways to continue telling the CCPS story in a virtual world. “Mr. Graves’ schedule was full before the pandemic, but he stepped up to do even more as CCPS navigated the limitations COVID-19 imposed,” Katie O’Malley-Simpson, director of communications, said. “He came to work every day to provide visuals of CCPS’s efforts to serve students.” He devised ways to create virtual graduations and Board recognitions of outstanding students and staff. His ability to pivot and change course have served the school system. “Mr. Graves is knowledgeable and resourceful in his craft for sure, but his collaborative spirit and flexible nature are also traits that bode well for him, both personally and professionally,” Marvin L. Jones, executive director of schools, wrote in a nomination letter. Graves works with students who are interested in video production and broadcasting. Whether they are behind or in front of the camera, Graves ensures students are confident and informed. “He makes the students feel relaxed when he is taping and makes sure to take the time to talk with as many as possible,” Ann Taylor, content specialist for Gifted and Differentiated Services, wrote in a nomination letter. His keen eye is obvious in the final product he produces. “Kyle produces top-notch videos because he pays attention to every detail,” Susan Cox, web content design specialist, wrote. “His expertise and knowledge are evident in his work … Kyle puts his heart and soul into everything he produces.”
At the beginning of the year, CCPS created a new position of Reading Intervention IA. At William A. Diggs Elementary School, Jackson’s main responsibility is to meet with small groups of students who are struggling with reading. “The students do benefit from their time with Ms. Jackson, not only by growing as a reader but also by building a relationship with a caring adult,” Jane Pilkerton, reading resource teacher at Diggs, wrote in a nomination letter. Jackson is known for building relationships with students and their parents. “She regularly assists with school activities and events such as monthly material pickups, and often engages in conversations with parents and students,” Principal Debra Calvert wrote. “She truly enjoys making personal connections.” Teachers can see the confidence building in students who work with Jackson. “My students start in her program as timid, apprehensive readers below grade level and flourish into self-assured, fluent readers,” Danielle Lessner, a first-grade teacher wrote. “We meet with Ms. Jackson so that we can become better readers,” second graders Delarae Gettis, Jacob Wilder and Justin Bolden wrote in a nomination letter. “Ms. Jackson is funny. She makes us laugh and we are happy when we get to meet with her. Best of all, she makes us feel confident when we read.” The students are up for the challenge. According to third graders Addisyn Reaves, Aleena Durr, Darrelle Jones and Savannah Henslee-Dobbs, Jackson’s help is making them stronger readers. “Ms. Jackson helps us with our reading so that we can get better and better,” the students wrote. “Once we get better at reading, Ms. Jackson gives us harder books. We love getting harder books because they are more challenging.”
Langley began her career with CCPS in 1986 as a satellite driver. Back then, school lunches were prepared at middle schools and delivered to elementary schools. She has worked in food service at C. Paul Barnhart Elementary School, La Plata High School, Milton M. Somers Middle School, Maurice J. McDonough High School and the F.B. Gwynn Educational Center. She moved to North Carolina for a while, and when she came back to Charles County in 2016, Langley took a job as the assistant cafeteria manager at J.C. Parks Elementary School where the following year she became the manager. “She does everything out of the love in her heart for fellow human beings,” Greg Miller, principal of Parks, wrote in a nomination letter. When COVID-19 closed school buildings, food service teams geared up to serve curbside meals to ensure children were fed. Langley and her staff make meal pickup fun. Almost every day has a theme, an effort that was lauded by the No Kid Hungry organization. The creative flair is nothing new for Langley and the FNS staff at Parks. Langley is known to decorate the cafeteria for every holiday or just for fun. She holds contests with “lucky tickets” found under lunch trays and invites guests to activities like Farm to Food Week. She also mentors staff members. “She motivates me to do better for our school, the community and myself,” Shannel Proctor, a food service worker at Parks, wrote. “I respect her hard work, leadership and dedication every single day. She turns work into more than just serving meals to students.” Students appreciate her sense of humor as much as the food she serves. “Thank you for everything,” Kayshawn Washington, a Parks fifth grader wrote. “You are cool, nice, funny and awesome. If it wasn’t for you, we would not have food to eat.”
Lombardi’s job as a security alarm technician III requires him to work on various aspects of security cameras, access control, fire alarms, clocks and PA systems. No matter what he’s working on to support the operation of life safety systems around the school system, he is diligent and thorough. Carl Rye, foreman of Life Safety Systems for CCPS, describes Lombardi as resourceful and professional. “Chris is my ‘go-to’ person whenever I need assistance in the security area,” Carol Jewell, secretary to the principal at North Point High School, wrote in a nomination letter. “He is always there to make sure that each request and concern is addressed — even afterhours and on weekends.” School leaders echo Jewell’s opinion. When the camera system at Matthew Henson Middle School needed attention, Lombardi became the point person Principal Christina Caballero relied on. “He responds to emails and concerns quickly, and I never have to worry if he will respond to my emails. He takes his job very seriously and wants to make certain that we have the resources we need,” Caballero wrote. Lombardi can be counted on to help staff in other trades and departments, and easily adapts to different situations. “His ability to plan, prioritize and juggle the different requests that develop throughout the day is a gift to those who know and work with him,” Shane Beauvais, electronics technician III, wrote. “He is a leader, a great employee, a role model for all and a friend.”
Spurr brings a positive pervasive energy to Lackey and its community. “Mrs. Spurr is my right hand and my right arm who is always dependable and proactive,” Lackey Principal Kathy Perriello wrote in a nomination letter. “She not only takes care of me; she takes care of everyone else.” In addition to serving as the principal’s secretary and office manager, Spurr is responsible for producing the Lackey Lookout, the school’s online newsletter. She doesn’t hesitate to pitch in where needed. When the counseling department was without a secretary, Spurr was there to help. “As busy as she was as the principal’s secretary, she was always there to lend a helping hand,” Mark Caputi, school counselor, wrote. “Mrs. Spurr helped us several times with our awards certificates, letters, phone calls, you name it. She never felt burdened. She was just happy to help. That’s the kind of person she is.” Parents appreciate Spurr’s knowledge and know-how, as well as her devotion to the success of their children. “I see her as the glue that makes it all stick,” wrote Monica Cherry, mother of MacKenzie, MacKaiya and Marvin Cherry. “I always felt enlightened and enriched when in her presence.” In addition to helping staff and parents, Spurr can be counted on to work with students too, especially with Key Club, a community service organization. “She would work with the students and help guide them in the right direction,” Annie Landgraf, a 2020 Lackey graduate and class valedictorian, wrote. Cheyenne Barbour, a rising senior at Lackey, worked with Spurr in Key Club and appreciates her willingness to help students. “I believe Mrs. Spurr has a key role in keeping Lackey High School functioning and she is one of the reasons why Lackey High School is great,” Barbour wrote.
There are 125 classrooms, offices and a cafeteria at North Point. Also housed at the school are multiple industry-equivalent laboratories, a licensed culinary kitchen, a licensed day care center, automotive technology service center, collision repair shop, operating salon and four trade shops. It also serves as a convocation center for CCPS high school graduations and other events, like a mass COVID-19 vaccination center. The school’s building service team — led by building service manager Woodland — oversees the cleaning and sanitation of it all. “His eyes constantly look for the next project or improvement to our building and grounds,” Principal Daniel Kaple wrote in a nomination letter. “His pride in our building is contagious among our entire school staff.” Woodland collaborates with the administration and informs school leaders on projects that may impact the school day. “He does not rely on the administrative team to come up with solutions,” Cheryl Davis, vice principal, wrote. “He brings solutions to the table.” Robert Poore, automotive technology teacher, credits Woodland with fixing problems that crop up in his lab. From replacing classroom lights to pushing vehicles around, Woodland and his team can be counted on to help and fix problems. “Finally, after many years of North Point being open, he got the heat working in my lab,” Poore wrote. “He is an asset to my program and North Point.” In the midst of COVID-19, building service teams have ramped up their work, including those at North Point. When North Point hosted a vaccination site, it meant additional cleaning for building service. Woodland wasn’t fazed. “We can handle it,” he said. “It’s what we do.” He has the support and admiration of his staff. “Mr. Woodland allows you to make your own decisions and supports you,” Robert Small, assistant building service manager at North Point, wrote. “This is a better and quicker way for staff to learn.”
All 2021 support staff award recipients were recognized by the Board of Education at its June 8 meeting.