Benjamin Stoddert Middle School seventh grader Alyssa Gerhart was recently selected as the 2016 top Maryland middle school youth volunteer in The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program. The nationwide program honors young people for outstanding volunteerism and community service. Only two students in Maryland are selected annually for this recognition—one middle school student and one high school student.
Gerhart, as well as the Maryland high school youth volunteer selected from Wicomico County, is now in the running for one of five national top volunteer awards. National honorees are chosen from state level award recipients and will be announced May 2 at The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards gala ceremony. Five middle school national honorees will be selected, and five high school national honorees will be chosen.
Gerhart was nominated for the award by Stoddert Principal Kenneth Schroeck for her efforts in organizing food drives and donations for a community organization called Our Place. Gerhart works alongside family members at Our Place Waldorf, a local soup kitchen. Her mother was a co-founder of Our Place three years ago and Gerhart got involved from the start.
During initial meetings to launch Our Place, Gerhart volunteered to hand out information and sign in community members who attended the meetings. She assisted during interviews with potential Board members. Since Our Place opened three years ago, Gerhart has volunteered to help collect food, raise money and also works at the soup kitchen doing things such as cooking, serving food, setting up and cleaning tables. Gerhart has also recruited several of her peers to volunteer at Our Place and coordinates food drives for donated items so guests of Our Place can take items with them after their visit.
Our Place operates out of Good Shepherd United Methodist Church and hosts a Thursday night dinner program for the public. Gerhart's goal is to help raise funding to support a permanent location for Our Place. "As we know, people aren't hungry only one day a week," Gerhart said. In April, Our Place will add a Monday night dinner program to its community offerings.
In addition to her commitment to serving the community, Gerhart also is an excellent role model student. She earns honor roll grades, participates in the chess and builders clubs, and is the co-vice president of the student government association and history fair winner. She is also a member of Mathematics, Engineering and Science Achievement (MESA), VEX Robotics, SeaPerch and the Rising Educators program.
Additionally, Gerhart is a Carson Scholar. The Carson Scholars Fund awards college scholarships to a select group of high achieving students in grades four through 11 who demonstrate outstanding academic achievement and humanitarian qualities. She also has received recognition through the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution essay contests.
As a state honoree, Gerhart receives $1,000 and a silver medallion. She will travel to Washington, D.C., in May and participate in program events that include a visit to Capitol Hill and the awards gala at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. Students selected at the national level receive additional $5,000 awards, gold medallions, a crystal trophy and $5,000 from The Prudential Foundation for a nonprofit charitable organization of their choice.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program was created by the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) and Prudential Financial in 1995 to honor both middle and high school students for outstanding acts of community service. The program is the largest youth recognition program based solely on volunteer service. Visit www.nassp.org/spirit for additional program information.
Mitchell teacher recognized for work in gifted education
The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) and the Maryland Advisory Council on Gifted and Talented Education recently honored Connie Mattingly, a learning resource teacher at Walter J. Mitchell Elementary School, for her work in gifted education. She was named a recipient of a 2016 Teacher as Leader in Gifted and Talented Education Award.
The Maryland State Advisory Council on Gifted and Talented Education annually honors educators and community organizations for their contributions in developing the talents of Maryland students from all populations in gifted education. Mattingly, along with several Charles County Public Schools students, will be honored at a Feb. 24 reception held to honor exemplary students and teachers for their accomplishments in gifted education.
As the learning resource teacher at Mitchell for the past three years, Mattingly coordinates both the testing and gifted education programs for students. One of her goals as a teacher is to provide students with a rigorous curriculum that meets above grade-level standards and incorporates gifted education best practices. She often can be found co-teaching with a gifted education teacher or working with a small group of advanced students. Mattingly plans weekly with all teachers and launched a second grade advanced math program for students. She also works regularly with third through fifth graders in advanced math programs.
Mattingly was nominated for recognition of her work in gifted education by Joyce Campbell, a gifted education resource teacher at the Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building who works with learning resource teachers at the elementary-school level to assist them in providing a quality gifted programs. In her nomination, Campbell describes Mattingly as a teacher with a strong work ethic and a dedicated professional.
"Ms. Mattingly has spent many hours helping develop, rewriting and reviewing the gifted reading curriculum in our county. She also has led numerous professional development sessions for teachers of advanced students and students identified for gifted services," Campbell wrote. Campbell also notes Mattingly's pursuit in professional development opportunities in the area of gifted education. In 2014 she attended the National Association for Gifted Education conference and participates in gifted conferences at the state level.
A career accomplishment of importance to Mattingly is helping five of her former students receive recognition as Carson Scholars. The Carson Scholars Fund awards $1,000 college scholarships to a select group of high achieving students in grades four through 11 who demonstrate outstanding academic achievement and humanitarian qualities. These students must have a minimum 3.75 grade-point average to be considered. The scholarships are invested for the students' college education.
Mattingly began her career with Charles County Public Schools in 1993 as a special education teacher at Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer Elementary School. She has also taught enrichment language arts at the middle-school level and transitioned to gifted education in 2002. Prior to joining the teaching staff at Mitchell, Mattingly was a gifted education teacher at William B. Wade Elementary School. In 2011 Wade was honored by MSDE for their excellence in gifted education.
For more information, visit the MSDE website at marylandpublicschools.org/MSDE/programs/giftedtalented/ .
Hanson eighth grader is top speller at Spelling Bee
Nicholas Gallegos, a John Hanson Middle School eighth grader, earned the title of top speller at this year's Charles County Public Schools Spelling Bee held Feb. 19 at Benjamin Stoddert Middle School. Gallegos was named the overall winner at the event after spelling the word "azimuth" correctly during the final round. The Merriam-Webster definition of an azimuth is an arc of the horizon measured between a fixed point and the vertical circle passing through the center of an object usually in astronomy and navigation clockwise from the north point through 360 degrees.
As the overall winner, Gallegos advances to the 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee scheduled for May 22-27 in Washington, D.C. He received a trophy and other prizes donated from participating sponsors of the event. In 2015, Gallegos earned second place overall at the county level. The Spelling Bee coaches at Hanson are Natalie Gearhart, an English teacher, and Patricia Hodson, Hanson's library media specialist.
The second place overall winner was Holli Kobialka, an eighth grader from Southern Maryland Christian Academy.
Teams from each participating school are awarded points based on student performance during each round. The team from Piccowaxen Middle School earned first place for their performance. Members of the team include seventh graders Danielle Auth, Collin Hicks, Courtney Kimble and Jaelyn Sciascia-Penny, and eighth grader Jake Burgess. Coach of the team is Nancy Buter, a language arts teacher at Piccowaxen. As the first-place team, Piccowaxen's team earned a special plaque to display in the school.
More than 60 students competed in the event. Video footage from the Spelling Bee is posted on the Charles County Public Schools website at beta.ccboe.com/ccboetv/?videos=2016-charles-county-spelling-bee.
Students from all Charles County public middle schools and county private schools are invited annually to participate in the event. The Spelling Bee is sponsored by Charles County Public Schools, the College of Southern Maryland, the Maryland Independent, Chaney Enterprises, Educational Systems Federal Credit Union and Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative, Inc.
Charles County Public Schools held its 38th annual Spelling Bee Feb. 19 at Benjamin Stoddert Middle School. John Hanson Middle School eighth grader Nicholas Gallegos, right, was named the overall top speller and advances to the national level in May. Holli Kobialka, an eighth grader at Southern Maryland Christian Academy, left, earned second place overall. Gallegos spelled the word "azimuth" correctly to win the top spot.