Charles Co. Public Schools News Briefs - Southern Maryland Headline News

Charles Co. Public Schools News Briefs

Henson counselor named State Counselor of the Year

Sonya Ford, a school counselor at Matthew Henson Middle School, was recently named the 2014 Maryland Middle School Counselor of the Year by the Maryland School Counselor Association (MSCA). The award recognizes school counselors for outstanding achievement and service to students, and for providing leadership in the development of existing and future counseling services.

Ford began her school counseling career with Charles County Public Schools in 2008 as a counselor at North Point High School, and transitioned to Henson in 2012. During the past six years as a CCPS middle and high school level counselor, Ford has worked with students on academic, personal and social goals, and career development. She also focuses on implementing and supporting programs that build positive relationships and school climate. She was nominated for the award by Alicia Jones, supervising school counselor for Charles County Public Schools, and Robbie Wilson, counseling secretary at Henson.

As part of the middle school redistricting implemented at the start of the 2012-13 school year, Henson gained more than 180 new students. To support a positive school climate and encourage student and parent involvement, Ford launched a program called Lunch and Learn/Dine and Discover. As part of the program, parents are invited to visit Henson for one hour, either during lunch or after school hours, to meet with the counseling department to learn about various topics. Ford also works with the counseling department to send monthly newsletters to parents, manage a girls mentoring and peer mediation program and coordinate schoolwide events such as College Day and Career Day.

Ford said she is proud to represent Henson and is humbled by the recognition. “I am humbled and honored to receive this award. However, I consider this award an award for all the school counselors in CCPS. We are the mental health educators in the building and the heart of each school. Together, we make a difference in the lives of the students we serve. I share this award with all of my school counseling colleagues,” Ford said.

Additionally, Ford serves as a positive leader among her peers and role model for students. She is often found greeting students in the hallways, passing along positive messages. She primarily works with eighth graders and works hard to instill in them a sense of pride, spirit and commitment. Ford also serves as a liaison between teachers and parents and uses a hands-on approach to reach and support her students.

“My hands-on approach has garnered a level of mutual respect and admiration. I believe my students know my heart and know that I ‘have their backs,’ therefore, they try their best not to disappoint me and to live up to the expectations I set forth for them,” Ford wrote in her award nomination information.

This award is not the first recognition Ford has received for her work in school counseling. In 2011, she was nominated as a candidate for the American School Counselor Association’s (ASCA) School Counselor of the Year award. In 2004, she was named the Maryland Elementary School Counselor of the Year by the MSCA. Prior to beginning her counseling career with CCPS, Ford held school counseling positions in both Howard and Prince George’s counties.

Additionally, Ford is an adjunct faculty member at Walden University and has also taught classes at American Public University. She is the co-host of a weekly syndicated national radio talk show called “Family Affair” and has a private therapy practice in Charles County.

Nominees must have at least five years of school counseling experience, a master’s degree in guidance and counseling, and must be certified as a school counselor by the State of Maryland. Nominees must also have been responsible for providing leadership in counseling services and outstanding service to the school community, as well as are members of the Maryland School Counselor Association and the American School Counselor Association.

Ford received a bachelor’s degree from Old Dominion University in psychology and a master’s degree in school counseling from The Johns Hopkins University. She also holds advanced certificates in teaching and counseling from Hopkins, and received her doctorate degree in counseling psychology in 2009 from Argosy University. She is a member of the Charles County Commission for Women and is the social media chair for the MSCA. Additionally, she holds national school counselor certification and served as an advisory team member for three years with the College Board’s National Office of School Counselor Advocacy.

She will be honored by the MSCA at their annual conference on March 28. For more information on the MSCA, visit their website at

Career and technology students advance to state competition

Forty-eight Charles County Public Schools students advance to the state Skills USA competition after placing at the regional event held Saturday, Feb. 1 at North Point High School. The state event is scheduled for April 5 at the Center of Applied Technology North, located in Anne Arundel County.

The Skills USA regional competition is a showcase event for career and technology students in the tri-county area. The students compete locally and continue through the state and national levels. First-, second- and third-place winners at the regional level advance to the state event. The philosophy of the competition is to reward students for excellence, to involve industry in directly evaluating student performance and to train students for employer needs.

The students who placed at the regional event and advance to the state level are:

-- Rayna Wallace, senior, first place, advertising design, North Point;

-- Brandon Powell, senior, first place, architectural drafting, North Point;

-- Miguel Racho, junior, second place, architectural drafting, North Point;

-- Avonne Lancaster, junior, first place, automotive technology, North Point;

-- Jamie Blades, senior, second place, automotive technology, North Point;

-- Matthew Atkinson, senior, second place, carpentry, North Point;

-- N’Dea George, senior, first place, cosmetology, North Point;

-- Emily Foreman, senior, second place, cosmetology, North Point;

-- Stephanie McCarter-Dadzie, junior; Dylan McCabe, sophomore; and Kelsey Sweeney, sophomore; second place, crime scene investigation, North Point;

-- William Sieger, sophomore; Miriam Requeno, junior; and Brittany Jenkins, junior; third place, crime scene investigation, North Point;

-- John Radtke, senior, first place, criminal justice, North Point;

-- Gill-Jan Eleazar, senior, second place, criminal justice, North Point;

-- Justin Golba, senior, third place, criminal justice, North Point;

-- Morgan Smith, senior, first place, culinary arts, North Point;

-- Kaitlin Luck, senior, second place, culinary arts, North Point;

-- Joseph Spoltore, senior, third place, culinary arts, North Point;

-- Joseph Ambort, senior; and Tristan Sams, senior; second place, digital cinema, Robert D. Stethem Educational Center;

-- Gemini Abella, senior; and Derek Adams, senior; third place, digital cinema, Stethem;

-- Jessica Green, junior, first place, early childhood studies, North Point;

-- Maria Estevez, senior, second place, early childhood studies, North Point;

-- Alyssa Gonnella, junior, third place, early childhood studies, North Point;

-- Nick Wiegand, junior, first place, electrical wiring, North Point;

-- Deja Butler, junior, second place, first aid/CPR, North Point;

-- Cheyenne Eller, senior, third place, nurse assisting, North Point;

-- Madelyn Donaldson, junior, first place, photography, Stethem;

-- Nicholas Greaves, junior, third place, photography, Stethem;

-- Andre Bagwell, senior; Austin Barnhart, senior; Jason White, senior; and Brandon Cundiff, sophomore; first place, teamworks category, North Point;

-- Kelley Ingram, senior; Kelsey Bovard, senior; Erica Canales, junior; and Samantha Lane, junior; third place, teamworks category, North Point;

-- Miguel Reyes, junior, second place, welding, North Point;

-- KD Hester, senior, third place, welding, North Point;

-- Garrett Fuller, senior; Samuel Joyner, senior; and Jonathan Perry, senior; first place, welding fabrication, North Point;

-- Trenton Fox, sophomore; Dakota Fowler, sophomore; and Jeremiah Hart, sophomore; third place, welding fabrication, North Point; and

-- Miguel Reyes, junior, first place, welding sculpture, North Point.

In addition to these students, North Point and Stethem also have several students who advance directly to the state level to compete. During the regional competition, not all Skills USA categories are featured for entry. These categories range from quiz bowl, job skills and collision repair technology to prepared speech, cabinet making and broadcast news.

Students who earn first place at the state level are eligible to compete in the Skills USA National Championships scheduled for June 23-27 in Kansas City. Skills USA is a national partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure a skilled work force. The organization serves more than 300,000 high school and college students, as well as professional members, nationwide.

Skills USA provides experiences for students in leadership, teamwork, citizenship and character development. The organization focuses on quality at work, high ethical standards, superior work skills, lifelong education and pride in the dignity of work. For more information, visit the Skills USA Maryland website at

Murphy named Executive Director of Human Resources

Pamela Murphy has accepted the position of Executive Director of Human Resources for Charles County Public Schools (CCPS). Murphy has more than 16 years of senior management experience in public education human resources. She has held the positions of Senior Manager of Human Resources for Harford County Public Schools and Director of Human Capital for Baltimore City Public Schools.

The Board of Education approved her appointment on Feb. 11. She starts in her new position with CCPS on Monday, March 3.

Murphy said she is looking forward to working with staff and students in her new position. “I am excited about the opportunity to work with Charles County Public Schools and look forward to working with not only human resources staff, but with teachers and other employees to provide outstanding customer service and make a difference with students,” Murphy said.

She has a Master of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Science in financial management. She has an Advanced Professional Certificate (APC) certificate from the Maryland Department of Education and a Senior Professional in Human Resources Certificate (SPHR) from HR Certification Institute. Murphy also has experience in all facets of human resources including recruitment, benefits administration, classification, compensation, collective bargaining (as a chief negotiator), staffing, compliance, employee relations, payroll and budget.

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