The Board of Education of Charles County at its Jan. 11 meeting honored four Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) staff members for their commitment to the school system and student success. Each month, the Board honors staff members chosen by their school principals for recognition who demonstrate their dedication to teaching and learning.

Honored by the Board at its January meeting were Jordan Combs of William A. Diggs Elementary School; Joyce Dorsey of Thomas Stone High School; Michelle Garcia of J.P. Ryon Elementary School; and Valerie Morris of General Smallwood Middle School.

Jordan Combs of William A. Diggs Elementary School

Combs, a special education teacher at Diggs for the past six years, works with students in kindergarten to fifth grade. Combs brings a variety of skills to the position including organizational skills, thorough documentation and time management. She also connects with students and their families. “She builds relationships with students and families and communicates regularly with them to update progress and celebrate successes,” Principal Debra Calvert said. As a teacher, Combs provides instructional and behavioral supports that are outlined in students’ individualized education programs (IEP). As the special education teacher leader, Combs leads by example and provides team members with information and coordinates monthly meetings, case management day and other activities. She is also the school’s equity and diversity representative and attends county-level meetings. Combs has been honored by the Special Education Citizen’s Advisory Council (SECAC) and recently received the Think, Inspire, Grow Award from the CCPS special education department.

Joyce Dorsey of Thomas Stone High School

Dorsey can be counted on at Thomas Stone High School. A member of the day crew on the building service team, Dorsey is an integral member of the school staff. “Ms. Dorsey is part of the permanent foundation at Thomas Stone High School,” Principal Shanif Pearl said. “[She] is a professional who takes great pride in her work and possesses a work ethic one can only hope for in an employee.” Among the tasks Dorsey takes on are the daily routine of trash pickup and assisting staff with building preparation. She cuts grass, trims and prunes bushes and trees, gives a weathered spot a coat of paint and pitches in when an extra pair of hands is needed. Since the pandemic, Dorsey has taken extra care to ensure safety protocols are followed and that classrooms are cleaned and sanitized. Pearl describes Dorsey as “precise” and a detail-oriented person. “In addition to Ms. Dorsey’s outstanding work ethic, her attitude and positive disposition makes her a pleasure to work with,” Pearl said.

Michelle Garcia of J.P. Ryon Elementary School

As a bus checker during arrival and dismissal, pre-kindergarten instructional assistant (IA) Garcia can be heard reminding J.P. Ryon Elementary School students of the school’s Big Three — Be Safe! Be Respectful! Be Responsible! At the start of the day, she greets students with a smile and goes out of her way to address a student’s specific social and emotional needs. Garcia, who has worked as an IA for six years, is a reliable and strong partner, working with teacher Jaimee Parks in the classroom. “Mrs. Parks asserts that Mrs. Garcia rises to the occasion to come early and stay after school hours to assist with classroom projects and planning,” Principal Melinda Tyler, Ed.D., said. The classroom of Parks and Garcia was selected as a model classroom for other CCPS prekindergarten teachers to observe best practices. Garcia is bilingual and is a vital part of the Ryon community, particularly to Spanish-speaking families. “Mrs. Garcia always takes pride in her duties and work,” Tyler said. “She is a joy to work with daily. She is always willing to help and be there for anyone who needs it.”

Valerie Morris of General Smallwood Middle School

Morris is in her eighth year at General Smallwood Middle School. As the counseling secretary, she is the face of the counseling department. She not only helps students who stop by the office, she assists parents with registration and other tasks. Morris goes above and beyond at Smallwood and is willing to work past her workday if it ensures a job will be done. “When she completes our honor roll, she checks and rechecks to ensure all students’ names are spelled correctly,” Principal Brenda Tillotson said. “This is just one example of the pride she takes in her work.” Morris looks out for the needs of Smallwood students. The school usually has the largest middle school population of Free and Reduced Meal (FARM) students, Tillotson said. Morris works with the school’s community outreach program to make sure students are being taken care of. “She coordinates with our counselors and pupil personnel workers to determine what students may need this extra assistance,” Tillotson said. “It is hard for students to focus on academics when they’re hungry, without proper clothing and school supplies. Mrs. Morris works with organizations to help so many students and their families.”

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