The Board of Education at its Oct. 13 meeting honored five 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 who demonstrate a commitment to teaching and learning.
Safety guidelines currently in place to slow the spread of COVID-19 have altered the in-person format of Board meetings. Recognitions for October are pre-taped with principals offering recorded remarks that were shown during the livestream of the meeting.
Honored were Traci Blakeley, Ronald Douglas II, Alexandra Eichel, Renee Hamilton and Stephanie Lloyd.
Blakeley is a third-grade teacher and team leader at William B. Wade Elementary School. She is willing to take on any challenge, and like any team leader, she won’t quit until it is right, William Miller, Wade principal, wrote in a nomination letter.
“Traci is a true professional, she led a team last year with two brand-new teachers and one teacher who was new to the grade level,” Miller said. “Her leadership and dedication to her students, community and teammates is truly an admirable trait.”
Blakeley has more than 30 years of classroom experience with 24 of those working for CCPS. She strives to learn more. “She is always willing to try a new instructional strategy in her classroom and she continually seeks feedback on how to continue her own practices,” Miller wrote. Her experience not only benefits students, but Blakeley’s peers. “Traci is the definition of an excellent and dedicated teacher,” third-grade teacher, Charlene Woods, wrote. “She goes above and beyond to help and educate not only her students but her colleagues and teammates.”
Douglas, a mathematics teacher at the Robert D. Stethem Educational Center for more than six years, is always available to provide support to fellow teachers — from helping with instruction to evaluations. He motivates students, sharing his interest in math with them. “Mr. Douglas has been a bedrock teacher in our building,” Curry Werkheiser, Stethem’s principal, wrote. “He designs thoughtful lessons and leans heavily on instructional technology to engage students.” Douglas fosters a friendly atmosphere and is available — an important trait, Werkheiser pointed out. “When you round the corner on any given day, physical or virtual, you will see Mr. Douglas actively motivating kids and providing them with gobs of positive reinforcement.”
Since virtual learning launched, Douglas has sharpened his teaching skills and shares his discoveries — like various teaching apps — with his coworkers. “They rely on Mr. Douglas quite often for his knowledge and experience,” Werkheiser said.
The landscape of education changed earlier this year due to health and safety precautions put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Eichel, a school counselor at Matthew Henson Middle School, stepped up to help students and families stay connected to school through virtual learning.
She assists with troubleshooting technical issues, created technology resources for the counseling department, held virtual “lunch bunches” for incoming sixth graders and advocates for student mental health services. With nine years of experience with CCPS, Eichel has been nominated for a Special Education Citizens Advisory Committee (SECAC) Award, is active in the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program, organizes Career Day and Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) events, coordinates anti-bullying and suicide prevention awareness days and oversees the Career and Technical Education (CTE) application process for Henson students.
She is a Nationally Certified Counselor and is working on her master’s in educational administration at George Washington University. “Ms. Eichel plays an essential role in the mental health of our school, she ensures staff and students feel safe, seen and heard,” Henson’s Principal Christina Caballero wrote in a nomination letter. “She is dedicated, fair and compassionate about her students and genuinely cares about their wellbeing.”
Hamilton has worked at Dr. Samuel A. Mudd Elementary School for five years where she is the cafeteria manager. Hamilton has been with CCPS for 17 years, spending 12 years at J.C. Parks Elementary School before starting at Dr. Mudd. “Renee is committed to Dr. Mudd both inside and outside the cafeteria,” Dr. Mudd’s Principal Orlena Whatley wrote in a nomination letter. “Not only has she passed out thousands of meals, but she has also helped to prepare and distribute materials of instruction.”
Hamilton’s positive and upbeat attitude is appreciated, as is her “can-do” spirit. “She leads by example,” Whatley wrote. “You can catch Renee prepping food and serving food. No task is too small or too big for Renee.” When school is out for summer, Hamilton takes part in summer programs throughout the county.
“She believes in servant leadership and that her purpose in life is to serve and assist others,” Whatley said. “She encourages others to volunteer, participate in functions and helps create a school environment that is student-centered because she believes in making a positive impact on everything she does.”
Lloyd, a kindergarten instructional assistant (IA) at Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer Elementary School, started as a substitute for CCPS at Wade in 2011. She later was a temporary IA at Wade, before becoming an extended learning opportunity (ELO) tutor at Jenifer, then an IA at the school.
Lloyd can be counted on to pitch in wherever she is needed. “Ms. Lloyd was invaluable in the spring and now organizing and implementing successful pick-up events for parents,” Jenifer’s Principal Kevin Jackson Sr., wrote in a nomination letter. “This is just one example of how Ms. Lloyd serves our school community. Ms. Lloyd goes out of her way for not only our special education students, but our general education students. She helps them get acclimated to the Jenifer school culture and works tirelessly establishing positive relationships with students.”
Lloyd serves on Jenifer’s PTO Board, organizes and manages “The Polar Express” celebration and volunteers for school events like bingo nights.
“Ms. Lloyd’s greatest asset is who she is to children,” Jackson wrote. When students were redistricted from a nearby school to Jenifer, Lloyd set out to form positive relationships with them. “She played a strong role in recreating a village for many of these students,” Jackson wrote. “Students seek Ms. Lloyd’s approval and assurance. She does whatever it takes to show up and show out for our learners in the way that makes a difference.”
Charles County Public Schools provides 27,521 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 37 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.
The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Kathy Kiessling, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Nikial M. Majors, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.
CCPS provides nondiscriminatory equal access to school facilities in accordance with its Use of Facilities rules to designated youth groups (including, but not limited to, the Boy Scouts).