Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot visited Dr. James Craik Elementary School on Thursday, Oct. 15 to tour one of Charles County Public Schools’ open-space learning facilities and talked with school system leaders about design aspects of the school and programs available for students.
Craik Principal Debbie Calvert guided Franchot on the tour and was accompanied by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kimberly Hill. Franchot talked with Calvert about her school’s successes and asked her what she thought contributed to them. “We have great leadership here in Charles County under Dr. Hill. She promotes a vision we align to about school pride. Tiger pride is the motto here at Craik,” Calvert said.
The tour included stops to a first-grade and fifth-grade classroom, where Franchot talked with students about what they were learning. In Michelle Simone’s first-grade class, Franchot talked with students about the activity they were doing and listened along as Simone instructed her students to participate in an activity she had just recently learned at an elementary teacher in-service training. Franchot also gave Simone one of his coveted Comptroller gold coins he hands out to “Marylanders who make a difference.” In presenting the coin to Simone, Franchot thanked her for her efforts and told her class to give her a round of applause.
During a stop to the school’s computer lab, Franchot commented on how well the building was maintained and praised Calvert for the efforts of her staff to keep small learning spaces open, inviting and welcoming. Joining Franchot on the tour were Keith Hettel, CCPS assistant superintendent of supporting services, and David Clements, supervisor of planning and construction for CCPS. Hettel and Clements talked with Franchot about the roof replacement project that took place at the school in 2008 and future plans for a 9-acre solar field for an area located behind the school. Clements also talked about design aspects of Craik, components of the energy efficiency program featured and the recent kindergarten addition.
Maj. Dave Saunders from the Charles County Sheriff’s Office participated in the tour as Sheriff Troy Berry’s representative and talked with Franchot about the school resource officer program. Through the school resource officer program, a police officer is assigned to each middle and high school. These officers also serve the elementary schools. The program was piloted at Thomas Stone High School in 1999 as part of a partnership between CCPS and the Sheriff’s Office. The program expanded to all Charles County high schools by 2002 and into all middle schools in 2007. Franchot commented that the program is an invaluable resource.
Before the tour concluded, Franchot visited Ashley Bendert’s fifth-grade classroom and commented on how well her students handled the distraction of visitors coming in to her room. Franchot talked with her students about where they would be attending middle school and the importance of being focused learners.
During the tour, Dr. Hill spoke to Franchot about the partnership with Code.org and the school system’s focus on infusing computer science into curriculum for all students, from grades kindergarten through 12. CCPS staff were recently invited by Code.org to attend a national conference and model computer science practices in place in Charles County schools. Franchot was impressed with the school system’s efforts to advance learning opportunities for all students. He also talked with Hill about teacher and staff retention and discussed areas where CCPS recruits teachers from.
Also attending the tour were Charles County Commissioner Ken Robinson and Loraine Hennessy, Charles County Register of Wills. Prior to the tour, Franchot presented Calvert with a Comptroller gold coin and recognized an achievement she received earlier in her career, the Milken Educator Award, which she was honored with in 1999 while teaching language arts at John Hanson Middle School.
Charles County Public Schools provides 26,300 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 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 Dr. Patricia Vaira, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Pamela K. Murphy, 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.