The Board of Education of Charles County at its Jan. 10 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 were Ellen Dunn of North Point High School; Ellen Escanilla of Walter J. Mitchell Elementary School; Jamie Heath of Mary B. Neal Elementary School; and Tania Saguid of Mattawoman Middle School.
Dunn is a math teacher at North Point who can be counted on to reach many of the school’s struggling learners, Principal Daniel Kaple said. “Special education teachers and instructional assistants enjoy co-teaching with Mrs. Dunn, often asking year-to-year to remain in her classroom,” Kaple said. Students enjoy being in Dunn’s classroom because she fosters engaging learning, compassion and collaboration. While academic achievement is important, Dunn knows that academic success only occurs when a student feels they are seen, heard and respected. “It is these three characteristics that students respond to when interacting with Mrs. Dunn,” Kaple said. Dunn is well known and liked by students and staff of North Point with students dropping by her classroom to say “Hi,” check in and ask for advice. Throughout her six years at the school, Dunn has founded and sponsored its Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Club, co-organized Black History Month activities, has been a class sponsor, coached the dance team, been a senior mentor and professional development trainer for CCPS teachers.
At Mitchell, Escanilla wears many hats — she leads leveled literacy intervention (LLI) groups, fills in when the school needs a substitute, helps in the library — “You just never know where you might see her,” Principal Nicholas Adam said. Escanilla is an administrative instructional assistant (IA) which allows her to interact and work with all staff members and students in all grades. “She always brightens everyone’s day and is diligent at her job,” Adam said. “She has helped me to have more confidence in my position with her constant check ins and supportive advice.” Escanilla has a strong relationship with the school’s Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) and Parent Advisory Committee members and can be spotted in the community attending students’ games and events to offer support. “Ellen genuinely cares about the staff and students,” Adam said. “She is selfless and celebrates the successes of everyone around her.”
Heath is a role model for staff and students at Neal who jumps into any situation where she is needed. “Ms. Heath provides a warm, inviting, caring and nurturing environment for students,” Principal Anthony Carroll said. Heath has spent 30 years in CCPS, first as a student, then as a staff member. Her mother was a teacher with CCPS and Heath’s husband is a math teacher at St. Charles High School. “Mrs. Heath is a pillar of strength and dedication at Neal,” Carroll said. “Whether it’s helping a student in crisis, a parent with questions about their child’s academic or a principal who needs a listening ear — Mrs. Heath is always there.” Heath is on the school’s Positive Behavioral Inventions and Supports (PBIS) committee and ensures students are recognized for exhibiting positive behavior. Heath also coordinates dismissal for the school’s car riders. “That’s no small feat if you have ever been at an elementary school at dismissal,” Carroll said. Heath coordinates lessons for students that are thoughtful and engaging, he added. “She leaves an indelible mark on everyone she meets,” Carroll said.
As an ESOL teacher at Mattawoman, Saguid works to ensure ESOL students have a successful academic experience and social transition to school. Saguid also builds relationships with her coworkers and started Modification in the Brew, a program to assist teachers once a week before school with instructional strategies. An educator for 22 years, Saguid has been assigned to Mattawoman and Milton M. Somers middle schools for the past three. She holds a bilingual and elementary education certification in Rhode Island and has certifications in Maryland to teach ESOL students in kindergarten through 12th grade and to teach Spanish to students in third through 12th grade. Saguid has written curriculum for CCPS, including that for the Summer Boost program. “Ms. Saguid is a consummate professional,” Mattawoman Principal Sonia Blue said. “Her room is print rich and inviting, filled with learning opportunities everywhere. Ms. Saguid is passionate and compassionate about all things children.”