Winsett, Thompson honored for support of student leaders, advocacy for student councils

Winsett, Thompson honored for support of student leaders, advocacy for student councils

As part of Charles County Public Schools focus on academic achievement and career readiness, students can participate in student council and student government activities. These activities include promoting leadership and teamwork, serving the community and are often overseen by teachers who are committed to nurturing future leaders.

Two of these committed Charles County Public Schools teachers – Gary Winsett of Thomas Stone High School and April Thompson from Milton M. Somers Middle School – were recently honored by the Maryland Association of Student Councils (MASC) for their support of student leadership.

Winsett, a social studies teacher at Stone and advisor to the Charles County Association of Student Councils (CCASC), was honored with the 2016 Nora Murray Unsung Hero Award. The award honors an individual selected by the MASC executive board who has gone above and beyond to promote student leadership and civic engagement. Winsett is a longtime teacher at Stone and is the CCASC regional advisor. As the CCASC advisor for the past six school years, Winsett oversees the middle and high school student leaders, student liaisons to the Board of Education and also works with student government advisors at the middle and high school levels.

Winsett was surprised with the honor April 7 during an awards banquet at the annual MASC convention. “It is a very prestigious award as it goes to someone who does a lot for the Maryland Association of Student Councils. That’s why I was so honored to get it. It is a tremendous honor and was a total surprise,” he said. The award was established in 2012 after Catherine Nora Murray, a former regional student council advisor and executive director of the MASC. Murray now oversees student council programs and works in parent and community engagement for Baltimore County Public Schools.

At the awards banquet, Thompson was named the MASC 2015-16 Maryland Middle School Advisor of the Year. She is a social studies teacher at Somers and serves as the student government association co-advisor at the school. She was recognized for her commitment to promote student involvement at school, as well as at regional and state levels, and for helping to inspire young leaders to become involved in student leadership activities.

Winsett wrote a letter on behalf of Thompson’s nomination and referred to her enthusiasm as infectious. “Her guidance and support are key ingredients to the success of the student leaders at Somers. She is a dedicated advisor who gives all of her energy, enthusiasm, and guidance to help shape her students into effective young leaders,” Winsett wrote.

Under Thompson’s guidance, Somers student leaders are active at the county level. The Somers delegation is one of the most active middle school student leader groups in CCASC activities. Thompson encourages her students to be active leaders at school, in their communities and in statewide activities. Additionally, she is well respected among her colleagues for her role as a student government advisor and excellence in the classroom.

This is the third consecutive year that a middle school student government advisor from Charles County Public Schools has received the state award. Winsett and Thompson were presented with their awards April 7 at the MASC Convention held in Ocean City. More than 100 Charles County Public Schools students attended the convention. For more information about MASC, visit

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.

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