The Board of Education honored four exemplary Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) employees at its monthly meeting Nov. 10. Honored were Lawrence Gross, Nichole Garner, Shellia Soderstrom and Jessica Gyurscik.
Gross is a building service worker at Malcolm Elementary School. He was nominated for recognition by Malcolm Principal Wilhelmina Pugh for his work ethic, positive attitude and friendly demeanor with students and staff. He has worked for CCPS for the past 12 years and goes above and beyond his daily duties to ensure the school is well prepared and safe for students and staff. Gross is credited with contributing to excellent building inspection ratings and works well with all staff members. He readily assists all staff members and helps with after school events, such as the school mentoring program and Parent-Teacher Association functions. Pugh said Gross readily stepped into the managerial position this past summer when the building service manager left unexpectedly. "Gross assumed additional responsibilities until a replacement was hired and always rises to the occasion when asked to come in early or stay late. He is efficient, and interacts positively with students during lunch shifts with a friendly, soft spoken and calm demeanor," Pugh wrote in a nomination letter.
Garner is a kindergarten teacher at Dr. Thomas L. Higdon Elementary School. She was nominated for recognition by Principal Peggy Mertes for her strong work ethic, her dedication to teaching and her commitment to Higdon staff and students. Garner recently developed a schoolwide writing project that required each student to research, write and develop a book on Maryland history. Garner worked with other teachers to incorporate the project into class curriculum, which received positive comments from the school community. She also assists with yearly Parent-Teacher Association events, such as Breakfast with Santa, and helps parents with special craft projects. Additionally, Garner volunteered to coordinate the production of the school yearbook and spends much of her spare time taking photos of students and staff. "We are so grateful for her effort. Had she not volunteered, it is possible that we would not have a yearbook," Mertes said in an award nomination letter. Garner also serves as the school's communications resource and sends positive school news and event information to local newspapers, as well as the school system's communications department.
Soderstrom is a reading resource teacher at Dr. James Craik Elementary School. She was nominated for recognition by Craik staff for demonstrating dedication and care toward her students, for exhibiting outstanding leadership skills and for demonstrating a calm demeanor and positive attitude. Soderstrom volunteers to help students who need additional reading assistance by coordinating a before-school morning program. She helps administer reading comprehension tests to students and works with fluency and phonics groups. Soderstrom also coordinates the reading partners program at Craik and helped to develop the school improvement plan. She also helps classroom teachers by providing new ideas on reading interventions and student resources. Principal Penny Nye said that Soderstrom is an outstanding leader who is always willing to help others. "She is a wealth of knowledge and is easily approachable, very patient and always demonstrates a positive attitude and calm demeanor. Shellia is a true professional that I have the honor of working with on a daily basis," Nye wrote in a nomination letter.
Gyurscik is a language arts teacher at Benjamin Stoddert Middle School. She was nominated for recognition by Principal Sue DelaCruz for her dedication to students and staff, for serving as the seventh grade team leader, and for participating in professional development opportunities. Gyurscik began teaching at Stoddert during the 2006-07 school year and works with students at the developmental, enrichment and gifted levels. She helps to promote literacy through academic challenges for students and adapts her teaching methods and instructional materials to meet students' varying needs and interests. Gyurscik has also worked with students during an extended day reading program and as part of the Summer Academy programs at Stoddert. She will complete her master's in curriculum and instruction in 2012 through McDaniel College and served as an administrative intern at Theodore G. Davis Middle School in July 2008. "Gyurscik is an asset to both students and staff at Benjamin Stoddert Middle School. She is dedicated to her work and challenges her students to achieve success," DelaCruz wrote in a nomination letter.
The Board honors several employees each month for outstanding contributions to the school system and children of Charles County.
The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Dr. Patricia Vaira, Title IX Coordinator and Section 504 Coordinator (students), or Connie W. Armstead, Section 504 Coordinator (employees/adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, Maryland 20646; (301) 932-6610/870-3814. For special accommodations call (301) 934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.