LA PLATA, Md. (March 9, 2016)—The Board of Education honored four Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) employees at its March 8 meeting for their commitment to the school system and the students they teach. Tara Cardano, Ruby Duehring, Patricia Stokes and Kelly Suter were recognized for their outstanding work.
Cardano is a language arts teacher at General Smallwood Middle School who makes teaching and learning her priority in life, wrote Smallwood Principal Kathy Kiessling in a nomination letter. Described as a "quiet leader," Cardano leads by example and is willing to go the extra mile to assist students or staff members. "Ms. Cardano builds positive relationships with her students that support their success," Kiessling wrote. "She believes in the students and their abilities and empowers them to feel confident. She maintains the belief that all students can grow academically and sets high expectations." Cardano recently completed a master's degree in general studies with a concentration in differentiation. The Charles County Commissioners honored Cardano's work with struggling readers and she was nominated for a Crystal Apple Award for growth in moving struggling readers to reach grade-level skills. "If a struggling student needs extra assistance, she is always willing to go the extra mile to figure out how to differentiate her instruction to meet the student's needs," Kiessling wrote. The president of the Maryland State Association of Quality Assurance Professionals, Cardano testified in front of the House Committee on Capitol Hill on oversite utilization review regulations. Cardano, a member of Smallwood's Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support (PBIS) team, seeks ways to reward positive behavior exhibited by her students. In addition to caring for her parents, she works evenings and Saturdays at times, devotes time to afterschool tutoring sessions and mentors Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) students.
Duehring is a drama and theater arts teacher at Thomas Stone High School. As the leader of the theater department, she was recognized last year for her accomplishments and efforts in drama by the International Thespian Society. "Ruby has worked to build a successful drama program at Thomas Stone High School, and has also recently taken our AP Literature classes to a new level of excellence," Thomas Stone Principal Michael Meiser wrote in a nomination letter. Duehring began her career with CCPS in 1990 as an English teacher at La Plata High School. She taught language arts at John Hanson and Milton M. Somers middle schools and has been at Thomas Stone since 1995. "Her students love her and she is amazingly dedicated to her school and students," Meiser wrote. "She's a sweetheart and unbelievably helpful," said Thomas Stone senior and AVID student Shantel King. "She is different from any other teacher I've ever had. She combines her love of theater and how she teaches us literature to make the content come alive. Most importantly, she cares about us as people and wants to make sure we are successful." "Ruby was such a kind, beautiful soul," said Susan Hedrick, a Thomas Stone teacher. "Just by talking to her you get a sense of calm, which is I'm sure one of the many reasons she is so beloved by the students and staff."
Stokes, a special education teacher and team leader at William A. Diggs Elementary School, started her teaching career with CCPS in 1991 as a special education teacher at Indian Head Elementary School, where she was a member of the school improvement team. After eight years at Indian Head, Stokes moved to the F.B. Gwynn Educational Center where she started the Multiple Intensity Teaching (MIT) preschool program. She taught at Berry Elementary School and was a teacher in the summer reading academy for seven years. She has been at Diggs for 11 years where she provides "outstanding instruction" to students and provides leadership to staff members on co-teaching. "Patricia displays great pride in her work and readily goes above and beyond what is required of her," wrote the Diggs nomination committee. "If there is a need, Pat is willing to pitch in and serve the greater good." As the special education team leader, Stokes works with other special education teachers, sharing her knowledge and expertise in best instructional practices, Individual Education Program (IEP) goals, data collection and analysis. Stokes has volunteered at the Oxon Hill Food Pantry for 18 years and has been a member of the Chesapeake Choral Arts Society for 12 years. She has served on the America Education Week Committee which plans and implements the school's Veteran's Day luncheon and Pastries with Parents events.
Suter is a prekindergarten teacher at J.P. Ryon Elementary School where she has been the school coordinator for the Raising a Reader program for the past three years. She is the contact person, organizes events and attends programs designed to encourage parents to read to children and discuss the stories. Suter is in the early stages of her career in education, but she has already established herself as an outstanding teacher, wrote Ryon Principal Robert Opiekun in a nomination letter. "Through her caring and consistent approach toward students, she has been able to foster excellence in many children," Opiekun wrote. "Mrs. Suter has created a better learning environment for all children and has done much to enhance the reputation of J.P. Ryon as an excellent child-centered school." Suter stays current on best practices for teaching prekindergarten students and is participating in the Maryland State Department of Education's validation process for the early childhood programs at Ryon, which are part of the Judy Center network. "She works well with administration, colleagues, parents and especially her students," Opiekun wrote. "Mrs. Suter routinely has a class of nearly 30 or more 4-year-old students. She is able to run a safe and orderly room that is student-centered and focuses on curriculum even with this tremendous challenge." Suter has a strong work ethic and acts as an advisor to her students' parents while helping them understand behaviors and developmental levels so she can ease parents' anxieties. "She is a clear asset to J.P. Ryon and thus for Charles County Public Schools as well," Opiekun wrote.