The Board of Education at its Dec. 8 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 their dedication to teaching and learning. The recognition ceremony was held in a virtual format and featured pre-recorded introductions and recognitions from school principals.
Honored at the meeting were Trevor Gillum, Luciano Morales, Kim Powell Burks, Donna Rzechula and Wanda Woodland.
Gillum is the computer analyst at General Smallwood Middle School. Since the school closures in March, Gillum has overseen the laptop distribution process for both Smallwood students and staff. Not only has Gillum had to prepare laptops for students, but also for teachers who are virtually teaching from home. He makes himself available to members of the school community for any technology-related needs. Gillum is well organized and manages the Smallwood technology help desk efficiently so all requests are addressed in a timely manner. He has a quick turnaround in responding to tickets and works extra hours to ensure students and staff have the necessary equipment to participate in virtual learning. According to Smallwood Principal Brenda Tillotson, Gillum is a valuable asset to the Smallwood staff. “Mr. Gillum has always done an outstanding job as the computer analyst at Smallwood, but since COVID-19, he has had to do so much more. He does a great job assisting staff and communicates with the school leadership on the progress of any issues that need to be resolved,” Tillotson wrote in a nomination statement.
Morales is an instructional assistant in the Secondary Academy of International Languages (SAIL) program at Thomas Stone High School. He has worked with students in the program for the past four years and is a retired detective with the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C. He brings a wealth of knowledge about youth outreach to the SAIL program. Through his demonstrated commitment to his students, Morales has earned the respect and trust of SAIL students and their families. He also serves as a translator, helps to conduct home visits with pupil personnel workers, mentors students in need of a positive role model and addresses attendance and grade concerns. Enrollment in the Stone SAIL program is growing, and Morales is an integral part in helping students and families thrive. Stone Principal Shanif Pearl said Morales has helped the administrative team build important relationships with students. “Our SAIL population is from Mexico, Central and South America, just to name a few. The cultural differences were often completely unknown to us. Mr. Morales has been exemplary, teaching our staff to be sensitive to certain topics and involves our SAIL students in teaching us about their culture to make everyone feel at home,” Pearl wrote in a nomination statement.
Powell Burks is a kindergarten instructional assistant at William A. Diggs Elementary School. She is well known among Diggs staff as someone who is willing to step up whenever and wherever she is needed. She comes in early, stays late in the evening, helps hand out virtual instructional materials to parents and creates fun activities for students. Powell Burks goes out of her way to help others in the school building. Powell Burks has taken on the role of team leader for the instructional assistants. Diggs Principal Debra Calvert said when Powell Burks sees a need, she jumps right in without being asked to help. “She has an eye for getting it done and getting it done right. Mrs. Burks is always willing to go above and beyond. She goes out of her way to help with many jobs and activities in the building,” Calvert wrote in a nomination statement.
Rzechula is an instructional assistant in the three-year-old program at J.P. Ryon Elementary School. She has held this position for 14 years and demonstrates a positive energy in all that she does. Throughout virtual learning, Rzechula has helped to organize and distribute materials for her students. Her work ethic is admirable, and she is well known by Ryon staff for being reliable, efficient and punctual. Rzechula is resourceful, creative and a team player. She helped the lead teacher create several hands-on projects for students, such as using items like cereal boxes and paper towel rolls to support learning. She puts in countless hours and serves as an after-school tutor when necessary. Rzechula is active in the school Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) and supports school math and reading nights. Rzechula also takes advantage of professional development so she learns the latest on learning trends and topics. She is well known among her colleagues as a staff member who is committed to the success of children. “Mrs. Rzechula is an asset to the community. Our smiling three-year-olds are a testament to her dedication and commitment to education,” Ryon Principal Melinda Johnson wrote in a nomination statement.
Woodland is an instructional assistant at the F.B. Gwynn Educational Center. She began her career with CCPS in 1998 as a substitute teacher and was hired as a full-time employee in 2005. In 2011, she transitioned from the Terrific Threes program to the STAY program at the Gwynn Center. Students enrolled in the STAY program need additional behavioral supports. Woodland works closely with students and is patient, kind and supportive. Her calm demeanor helps her interact and build relationships with her students. When a teacher is absent, Woodland easily steps in and covers a class, ensuring students stay on task with their instructional routines. She is working on a degree in social work and is eager to learn new interventions and programs. Woodland also works with her colleagues to collect data and offer intervention strategies. Gwynn Center Principal Daphne Burns said Woodland is an invaluable asset to her students. “Mrs. Woodland maintains high expectations for herself and her students. She maintains and reviews data to ensure her students are making sufficient progress. She finds joy in helping others,” Burns wrote in a nomination statement.
The Board each month honors CCPS students and staff selected by their principal for recognition.
Charles County Public Schools provides 27,000 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).