SMECO honors teachers for excellence in math, science and STEM

SMECO honors teachers for excellence in math, science and STEM

Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative, known as SMECO, recently named six Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) teachers 2020 Outstanding Teacher Honorees. The annual awards program recognizes teachers for outstanding achievements in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Honored for accomplishments in math are Laura Buzzell of Henry E. Lackey High School, Donna Day of Theodore G. Davis Middle School and Nicole Joly-O’Brien of J.C. Parks Elementary School. SMECO recognized them as 2020 Outstanding Mathematics Teachers of the Year.

SMECO honored Lolita Kiorpes of North Point High School and Victoria Farrell of Piccowaxen Middle School as 2020 Outstanding Science Teachers of the Year.

Deanna Wheeler, science teacher at Parks, was recognized by SMECO as a 2020 Outstanding Teacher in the area of STEM integration.

Each teacher was nominated for the SMECO Teacher of the Year awards program by staff, students and parents. Each earned honors for demonstrating outstanding performance with creativity, rapport with students and staff, enthusiasm for teaching, professionalism and technology use in the classroom. SMECO announced the award honorees earlier this month.

Buzzell has been a teacher with CCPS for 13 years. She has taught math at Lackey since starting her career in 2007. Her course load features Advanced Placement (AP) calculus, algebra with trigonometry and statistics, and Project Lead the Way (PLTW) engineering design and development. She is the math department chair at Lackey and achieved National Board Certification in the area of mathematics/adolescence and young adulthood.

Day is in her eleventh year of teaching with CCPS. Her classes include sixth-grade compacted and accelerated math, and she serves as the math department chair and is the sixth grade co-team leader at Davis. Day coordinates professional development sessions for her colleagues and participates in FAME courses with CCPS and the Maryland State Department of Education.

Joly-O’Brien began her teaching career with CCPS in 2008. She has taught at Parks for the past 11 years and teaches kindergarten. She is the kindergarten team leader and serves as the PLTW program lead launch teacher. Additionally, Joly-O’Brien is part of the kindergarten math curriculum team.

Kiorpes has been a teacher with CCPS for 13 years. She teaches biology and introduction to biotechnology at North Point. She has also taught introduction to environmental science, serves as the North Point envirothon coach and helped North Point achieve its Green School certification and Ocean Guardian School status. Kiorpes also oversees both a trout in the classroom and terrapin in the classroom program for students. In 2016, she received the Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators.

Farrell is in her twelfth year of teaching with CCPS. She teaches eighth grade physical science at Piccowaxen. Farrell has taught at Piccowaxen for the past six years and serves as the math department chair. She also oversees the Green School program and is the Mathematics, Engineering and Science Achievement (MESA) team advisor.

Wheeler is a longtime CCPS teacher and has been teaching at Parks since 2001. She works with students in Grades 3-5 and helped the school achieve Ocean Guardian School status. Wheeler took two research trips through the PolarTREC program aboard an icebreaker in the Arctic. She oversees the Parks Green Team and helped her students present at an international science conference. Wheeler has been recognized at the state level as an environmental educator and participated in two White House roundtables about climate change in education. 

About CCPS

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 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. 

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