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

Charles Co. Public Schools News Briefs

School resource officer program recognized for building trust

Cpl. Bill Welch, the school resource officer at John Hanson Middle School, teaches a DARE class to students during an April 25 school system visit by officials from the Department of Justice.
Cpl. Bill Welch, the school resource officer at John Hanson Middle School, teaches a DARE class to students during an April 25 school system visit by officials from the Department of Justice.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) spotlighted Charles County’s School Resource Officers (SRO) last month, providing attention to a program DOJ officials called a model for the nation. DOJ officials visited Charles County Public Schools on April 25 to research how Charles County’s successful School Resource Officer program works, and officers shared policies and methods and classroom visits to provide a broad overview.

Visitors first arrived at John Hanson Middle School where the health class teacher of the day was Cpl. Bill Welch, a SRO who is certified in and teaches Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE). Welch is as comfortable as a teacher as he is patrolling the hallways of Hanson, a place he calls his beat. Students are also comfortable with Welch and engage in easy conversation with their SRO who knows them by name and is teaching how the media influences the use of drugs like cigarettes and alcohol.

“You are building a culture of trust because of your SROs,” said Karol Mason, an assistant U.S. attorney general, following a presentation that included a video about the SRO program and testimony from parents and students. Student Chris Johnson talked about PFC P.J. Mann, the SRO at Matthew Henson Middle School, who made a difference in his life by mentoring and including him in a group called the “Distinguished Dozen.” Now a junior at North Point High School, Johnson said Mann helped him through tough times and taught him, “It’s okay to do the right thing.”

Thomas Stone High School was the next stop, and DOJ officials joined Cpl. Jared Cooney as he taught a Truth and Consequences class about the effects of marijuana. Using Telepresence, officials joined PFC Sheilagh Cook at T.C. Martin Elementary School as she worked with a fifth-grade DARE class. SRO Supervisor Sgt. Carl Rye and other officers explained the multitude of programs they offer students including sports and summer programs, Crime Solvers, gang awareness, bullying and training.

“You are role models for what success looks like and a model of how this should work nationwide,” Mason said. The visit was arranged as a result of a joint letter and invitation to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder from Sheriff Rex Coffey and former Superintendent James Richmond. Coffey and Richmond invited Holder to visit Charles County Public Schools following the tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2013. President Obama has directed the DOJ to study how School Resource Officers are best utilized in schools. “Our program is massively successful. We believe in a balanced approach that increases security at the schools while also fostering positive police-student relationships and providing outreach programs that encourage good decision making,” Coffey wrote in the letter.

“It’s wonderful to see this in practice. We want to know how we can service you. When Sheriff Coffey wrote to the Attorney General about what you are doing here he didn’t oversell it, he undersold it,” Mason said.

County students, teacher earn state History Day awards

Four Charles County Public Schools students received special awards, and a Westlake High School teacher was named the Maryland High School History Day Teacher of the Year, at the Maryland History Day competition held May 3 at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

Two students received the Senator Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr. Award for Excellence in Government History. Aidan Fleming, a sixth grader at John Hanson Middle School, received the award for his project titled, “Northern Ireland: The Troubles.” La Plata High School junior Ryan Burton also received the award for his project titled, “The Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission: Covert Operations Against Civil Rights.”

Cheyenne Scott, a sophomore at North Point High School, received The George Washington Leadership Prize sponsored by George Washington’s Mount Vernon for her project titled, “The Culper Ring: Not Just and Engagement Between Men and Women, But Against the Common Enemy.”

Craig Storm, a sixth grader at Mattawoman Middle School, received the Special Prize in Democracy award for his project titled, “The Evolution of Two Democracies: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizens in Classical Athens and Modern America.”

Additionally, Mark Howell, a social studies teacher at Westlake and History Day coordinator, was chosen to represent Maryland at the National History Day event as the Patricia Behring Maryland High School History Day Teacher of the Year. The national event is scheduled for June 15-19 at the University of Maryland College Park.

More than 30 other CCPS students competed in the state event after receiving a first- or second-place award at the county level. For more information on History Day activities, visit

School system celebrates National Board Certified Teachers

Charles County Public Schools honored 31 teachers on April 28 in a ceremony held at the Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building to recognize their work to attain National Board Certification. At the start of the ceremony, Superintendent Kimberly Hill thanked the National Board Certified Teachers (NBCT) for their dedication to excellence in teaching and learning.

“You are at the heart of what we do,” Hill said before inviting each teacher to the front of the room to be recognized, congratulated and receive a NBCT pin. “To be able to honor those in our profession who have chosen to pursue National Board Certification is a treat for all of us. The rigorous process that these teachers have engaged in not only improves their practice, it has the potential to improve the practice of others as they share the insights they have gained,” Hill said.

Charles County Public Schools has 31 National Board Certified Teachers. The process is open annually to any Charles County Public Schools teacher or specialist who holds a Standard Professional or Advanced Professional Certificate and has a minimum of three years of successful teaching experience. “National Board Certification is a prestigious designation that is earned through hard work and self-reflection. Reflecting on our work is something that we should all do. Reflection helps to inform improvements in teaching and learning. I hope that more of our teachers will consider taking on the challenge of becoming a National Board Certified Teacher,” Hill said.

The National Board Certification process was launched in 1993 and developed by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). It was designed to develop, retain and recognize accomplished teachers and to generate ongoing improvement in schools nationwide. Completion of National Board Certification signifies that teachers have developed and demonstrated the advanced knowledge, skills and practices required of an outstanding educator. The process is performance-based, peer-reviewed and built on high standards.

There are 25 certification areas that span grades prekindergarten through 12. Standards for each content area and developmental level are created by teachers and represent a consensus among educators about what accomplished, effective teachers should know and be able to do to improve student learning and achievement. The certification process consists of four components: written assessment of content knowledge, reflection on student work samples, video and analysis of teaching practice, and documented impact and accomplishments as a teaching professional.

The Charles County Public Schools staff newsletter, School News, will highlight one of the 31 CCPS National Board Certified Teachers in each edition starting May 23. School News editions are posted on the school system website at By receiving National Board Certification, Charles County teachers are eligible for a possible stipend added to their annual salary as long as they maintain their National Board Certification status. For more information on the National Board Certification process, visit

The following teachers were honored during the ceremony for completing the National Board Certification process:

-- Melody Chazon, science teacher, North Point High School;

-- Denise Childers, English teacher, La Plata High School;

-- John Childers, social studies teacher, La Plata;

-- Christina Cockerham, special education teacher, Theodore G. Davis Middle School;

-- Monica Derencin, language arts teacher, Milton M. Somers Middle School;

-- Erin Gartland, science teacher, Somers;

-- Tracie Gregan, third-grade teacher, Dr. Samuel A. Mudd Elementary School;

-- Marcie Jett, special education teacher, Piccowaxen Middle School;

-- Aparna Joshi, gifted education teacher, Somers;

-- Michele King, gifted education teacher, Matthew Henson Middle School;

-- Kristen Lednum, fourth-grade teacher, Dr. Thomas L. Higdon Elementary School;

-- Gary Lesko, social studies teacher, North Point;

-- Mary Beth Long, second-grade teacher, William B. Wade Elementary School;

-- Pamela Mengel, third-grade teacher, Walter J. Mitchell Elementary School;

-- Janis Milman, science teacher, Thomas Stone High School;

-- Karen Moore, English teacher, Robert D. Stethem Educational Center;

-- Lauren Mudd, Spanish teacher, La Plata;

-- Lynn Nathan, gifted education teacher, General Smallwood Middle School;

-- Heather Neely, special education coordinator, Jesse. L. Starkey Administration Building;

-- Wendie Newcamp, gifted education teacher, Davis;

-- Shelly Posey, foreign language teacher, La Plata;

-- Jessica Pratta, social studies teacher, North Point;

-- James Ressler, English teacher, Westlake High School;

-- Mary Lee Sadler, content specialist for middle school mathematics, Starkey;

-- Jo Anne Shelak, science teacher, Davis;

-- Cary Smith, English teacher, North Point;

-- Beth Sorsby, reading resource teacher, Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer Elementary;

-- Melissa Veneracion, English teacher, Stone;

-- Julie Verras, kindergarten teacher, Mary B. Neal Elementary School;

-- Lisa Wehausen, instructional specialist, William A. Diggs Elementary School; and

-- Melinda Wright, third-grade teacher, Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy Elementary School.

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