Charles Co. Public Schools News Briefs

Milton Somers honored for gifted education program

The Maryland State Advisory Council for Gifted and Talented Education and the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) recently named Milton M. Somers Middle School as one of nine Maryland schools selected for a 2013 Excellence in Gifted and Talented Education (EGATE) school award. The recognition program honors elementary, middle and high schools that offer gifted and talented programs that model excellence and focus on improving levels of student achievement.

The awards program was launched in 2010 by MSDE and the State Advisory Council on Gifted and Talented Education. To be considered for the program, schools submit a comprehensive application that includes documentation that demonstrates their program is aligned with criteria outlined in the Maryland Criteria for Excellence: Gifted and Talented Program Guidelines. All public elementary, middle and high schools in Maryland are eligible to apply.

Criteria are focused on each of the four Maryland EGATE objectives and corresponding criteria, which include: student identification; curriculum and instruction, including a focus on content, instructional strategies, products and the learning environment; professional qualified teachers and professional development; and program management and evaluation.

Somers is Charles County’s fourth school to receive the award recognition and will be honored at a state reception Feb. 27. As an EGATE recipient, Somers will also receive a Governor’s citation, EGATE school banner and plaque. Additionally, Somers will serve as a model EGATE school and must reapply every five years in order to maintain their EGATE status.

Other Charles County EGATE schools are Dr. James Craik, T.C. Martin and William B. Wade elementary schools. Details on the program and supporting criteria, as well as the application to apply for the 2014 awards program, are located on MSDE’s website at

Students to be honored for gifted education accomplishments

Seven Charles County Public Schools students were recently selected for state recognition for their accomplishments in gifted education by the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) and the Maryland State Advisory Council on Gifted and Talented Education. They are Ryann Brown, fifth grade, T.C. Martin Elementary School; Stephen Duranske, seventh grade, John Hanson Middle School; Abigail Gerstman, eighth grade, Theodore G. Davis Middle School; Evangeline Gilmer, fifth grade, Mary B. Neal Elementary School; Reines Maliksi, eighth grade, General Smallwood Middle School; Hannah McMillen, eighth grade, Davis; and Andrew Wright, eighth grade, Smallwood.

They were nominated for recognition by the gifted education resource teachers at their schools, and are seven of only 10 Maryland students selected for the honor this year. All students will be recognized as recipients of the student accomplishment in gifted and talented education award at a Feb. 27 state reception. Criteria for recognition of selected award winners include: student performs at a high level; is a current recipient of a school system, state or national award or competition winner; and participates in a gifted and talented program.

Brown is an honor roll student and has received gifted services in reading and mathematics for the past three school years. She is an exceptional student who excels in language arts, math, music and art. Her artwork is often selected for art shows and the Charles County Fair. Brown also launched a drink pouch recycling program at Martin and plays the trombone in the school band. She was recently honored by the Charles County Board of Education for her high achievements in the classroom.

Duranske consistently scores in the top five percent of students on both the reading and mathematics Maryland School Assessments (MSA). He is the only seventh grader at Hanson who is enrolled in Algebra II this year, and also takes gifted language arts and enrichment social studies and science classes. Duranske also participates in All-County Band, archery and is a member of the spelling bee team. He is also an active member of the Hanson Mathematics, Engineering and Science Achievement (MESA) team, and contributed to their advancement to the 2013 MESA National Challenge. The team won a third place national award and was the 2013 first place Maryland MESA winner in the Prosthetic Arm challenge.

Gerstman scores among the top five percent of students on the mathematics portion of the MSA. She is currently enrolled in Algebra II and is a gifted education language arts student. She participates in Destination Imagination and is in her third year of a robotics program with her Girl Scout troop. This past year, Gerstman was part of a team that entered the International Submarine Races. Her team designed, built and raced a human-powered, non-propeller submarine that competed against international teams. For the past two summers, Gerstman was also selected to attend the Maryland Summer Center for Gifted and Talented Students.

Gilmer is an honor roll student and was identified for grade acceleration as a first grader. She is the top math student in the fifth-grade accelerated math class and also participates in gifted curriculum in reading. She is a top performer on the school math team and an accomplished musician, playing both the violin and piano at Levine School of Music in Washington, D.C. Gilmer has received national writing awards from the Daughters of the American Revolution essay contest and serves as an ambassador for Neal.

Maliksi is a member of the National Junior Honor Society and maintains a 4.0 grade-point-average. She has been named to the principal’s honor roll since she was a third grader and consistently scores among the top five percent of students on the math MSA. She also passed the Algebra I High School Assessment (HSA) exam as a seventh grader. Maliksi is a member of the Smallwood Principal’s Advisory Committee, the VEX Robotics team, Future Educators of America, builders and environmental clubs, Destination Imagination and MESA.

McMillen is an accelerated math student and takes an honors geometry course at North Point High School. She is also enrolled in advanced language arts, social studies and science courses, and consistently scores among the top 10 percent of students on the math MSA. McMillen is active with Destination Imagination and has attended the global competition with her team three times since the fourth grade.

Wright has been participating in the gifted and talented program for the past six years and maintains a 3.8 grade-point-average. He is consistently on the principal’s honor roll and was inducted in to the National Junior Honor Society as a seventh grader. Wright is involved in several school-related clubs and activities including MESA, VEX Robotics, the Gateway to Technology program, the builders and environmental clubs, SeaPerch and the Principal’s Advisory Committee. He also participates in archery, volleyball, golf, and track and field, and has been recognized multiple times in the County First Art Show.

Along with these students, Milton M. Somers Middle School will be honored with the Excellence in Gifted and Talented Education (EGATE) award at the state reception, and two school system staff members – T.C. Martin Elementary School Principal Greg Miller and Aparna Joshi, a gifted education resource teacher at Somers – will be honored for their work in gifted education.

For more information on the EGATE program and gifted and talented education programs, visit the MSDE website at

Board recognizes outstanding students

The Board of Education honored six students on Tuesday, Jan. 14, for excellence in academic achievement, personal responsibility and career readiness, focus areas of the system’s master plan. The students honored were Ajani Witherspoon, fifth grade, Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer Elementary School; Ryann Brown, fifth grade, T.C. Martin Elementary School; Alexandria Barrow, fifth grade, Dr. Samuel A. Mudd Elementary School; Erik Wells, fifth grade, William B. Wade Elementary School; Jeniece Bailey, eighth grade, Matthew Henson Middle School; and Michael Fraley, eleventh grade, Robert D. Stethem Educational Center.

Witherspoon was recognized in the area of career readiness. He has attended Jenifer since kindergarten and has been on the honor roll every marking period since the first quarter of third grade. Witherspoon scored advanced on the Maryland State Assessment (MSA) for both reading and math. He is involved in school activities including math team and Just Say No Club. Witherspoon participates in extracurricular activities including a traveling soccer team and wants to be a professional soccer player when he grows up.

Brown was recognized in the area of academic achievement. She has represented Martin on the math team, Lego Robotics and MESA. Brown works to develop leadership skills by serving as a safety patrol officer, Student Host and a Girl Scout. According to Martin Principal Gregory Miller, “[Her] inquisitive interests in all school subjects, her career goals to become a journalist or the first female baseball player along with her responsible self-discipline set and exemplary example for her peers.”

Barrow was recognized in the area of academic achievement. She is involved in school activities including history club, chorus, band, math team and Destination Imagination (DI). According to Dr. Mudd Principal Kimberly Hairston, “Alexis, as she is fondly called, is a dedicated, hardworking student who has earned straight A’s since third grade. She pays great attention to detail and always tries her best.”

Wells was recognized in the area of academic achievement. He is a member of the chess club, safety patrol, K-Kids and plays the saxophone. Wells consistently makes the honor roll at Wade. According to Wade Principal Virginia McGraw, Wells is “hard working, self-motivated and consistently tries his best. Extremely responsible, attentive and courteous, he shows incredible initiative in all he does. Erik exemplifies what it means to be a Wade Elementary I-Care student; he is smart, special and valuable student who respects others and respects himself.”

Bailey was recognized in the area of personal responsibility. She has been on the principal’s honor roll and the outstanding citizenship honor roll every quarter since she became a Henson student. Bailey is a member of the Student Government Association (SGA), Spanish Club and National Junior Honor Society (NJHS). “Jeniece has shown great personal responsibility over the past two years and as a result has performed exemplary both in and outside of the classroom,” Henson Principal Sonia Jones wrote in a nomination letter.

Fraley was recognized in the area of academic achievement. He is the president of the Stethem SkillsUSA chapter and a member of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. Fraley has earned several “Student of the Month” awards and he was selected to assume a leadership role as a member of the Stethem Student Ambassador Team. He was also accepted into the Interactive Media Production program, a two-year Career and Technology Education program. According to Stethem Principal Wayne Freeman, “Michael should be honored for his superior academics while displaying creative design skills working with industry-standard programs. He demonstrates a strong work ethic, persistence and integrity."

Each month the Board of Education honors students for their success in academic achievement, career readiness and personal responsibility.

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