The Board of Education of Charles County, at its Nov. 15 meeting, honored six 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 were Letia Ballard of John Hanson Middle School, Dana Clark of St. Charles High School, Devonni Farrar of C. Paul Barnhart Elementary School; Kevin Gibson of Henry E. Lackey High School; Laura Liverman of T.C. Martin Elementary School; and Tina Thomas of Dr. Gustavus Brown Elementary School.

Pictured from left are Tina Thomas of Dr. Gustavus Brown Elementary School, Laura Liverman of T.C. Martin Elementary School, Devonni Farrar of C. Paul Barnhart Elementary School, Letia Ballard of John Hanson Middle School, Dana Clark of St. Charles High School and Kevin Gibson of Henry E. Lackey High School. Credit: Charles County Public Schools

Ballard is a Hanson social studies teacher who teaches seventh and eighth-grade students. It is not surprising that Principal Ben Kohlhorst named Ballard as an outstanding employee with her colleagues’ support. “Mrs. Ballard is exemplary in everything she does,” Didi Schenck, a math teacher at Hanson, said. “[She] is always insightful and shares much of what she does to improve our students’ learning.” Ballard creates a classroom culture that makes history relevant to students while being a hands-on teacher who finds many ways for students to access materials and demonstrate their understanding of what they are learning. “Truly a historian at heart, she gives content with context,” Schenck said. She is a mentor for newer teachers and an instrumental member of Hanson’s eighth-grade team. Ballard sets high standards for her students and can be counted on to pitch in where she is needed. “You can lean on her for just about anything,” Schenck said. 

Staff and students at St. Charles know they can count on Clark for support and guidance. As an instructional assistant (IA), Clark is dedicated to her students and a forward thinker. “She has proposed three activities this school year as outreach for ESOL students,” St. Charles Principal Tammika Little said. “Ms. Clark has stressed the importance and need of ensuring that all students feel like they are part of the school community.” Clark extends the welcome beyond St. Charles staff and students. As a Spirit Leader, she decorates the concession stand open for afterschool events and athletics. “Our concession stand is painstakingly decorated for every game and is a pleasant sight for home and away teams,” Little said. “It is a welcoming place where everyone comes together as one community.” As a co-sponsor of a girl empowerment group at the school, Clark works with female students to build the life skills and confidence that will serve them after graduation. In addition to sponsoring the school’s Relay for Life team, Clark was tapped to be a leader in the countywide Relay for Life event.

Second-grade teacher Farrar is in her fifth year of teaching — first hired on a conditional contract before earning her certification. With her work ethic, she has stayed committed to the certification process impressing Principal Brian King, Ed.D.. “She impressively balances the required coursework with the demands of classroom teaching,” King said. Growing into a highly effective teacher in a few short years, Farrar instills determination and perseverance into her students. “She holds her students to high expectations for effort and participation,” King said.

At Lackey, Principal Kathy Perriello said that Gibson is a teacher leader. He teaches local, state, and national (LSN) government classes, psychology/sociology, and Advanced Placement (AP) psychology and is the yearbook advisor. Gibson and his students in AP psychology and yearbook can be found in the school hallways during class, observing and capturing human behavior. “His psychology and yearbook classes are intently designed to be authentic and personalized,” Perriello said. While deployed with the U.S. military, Gibson continued to check in on his students during the school day through Zoom. As the yearbook sponsor, Gibson and his students are responsible for documenting highlights and everyday happenings at the school. “Mr. Gibson has spent countless hours capturing the highlights of our Charger family,” Perriello said. “He is attentive and proactive.” Gibson is the school’s representative to the Education Association of Charles County (EACC), and he recently completed his master’s degree in administration from Towson University.

Liverman is not just a member of the T.C. Martin school community; she lives in the area too. She often runs into students — past and present — and their families. When one young man — a former student — stopped her in the grocery store to introduce her to his grandmother, he mentioned he was now a teacher, and Liverman inspired him to go into the field. Liverman started her career as a classroom teacher at Eva Turner Elementary School before becoming the technology facilitator at Martin, a role she’s held for 19 years. At Martin, Liverman has been the bus coordinator, team leader, fifth-grade safety patrol coordinator, and public relations representative. As the PR rep, Liverman keeps the school’s social media accounts and website up to date. “This has been especially important during virtual learning and the return of in-person learning,” Principal Todd Wonderling said. “If you see our Twitter feed, you would be impressed with how she posts the awesome moments that happen daily at Martin.”

As the registration secretary at Dr. Brown, Thomas wears many hats. She ensures any staff member or student who drops by the office is helped and makes it a point to learn as much about Dr. Brown’s family as possible. Thomas makes it a practice to know how each student leaves the school in the afternoon and is safely on their way. “She knows addresses and how each student will get home daily,” Principal Karen Lewis said. She ensures student data is properly documented and prints all certificates for the school, from promotion certificates to awards handed out at assemblies. Thomas is the school’s Synergy coordinator and helps teachers and staff with any issues with the program. She takes classes to keep her knowledge of office practices current. “She is willing to grow in every area that will improve her performance,” Lewis said. “Ms. Thomas confronts all challenges head-on.”


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