Charles Co. Public Schools News Briefs

Charles County Public Schools winter break schedule

All Charles County public schools are closed Monday, Dec. 24 through Tuesday, Jan. 1 for winter break. Schools reopen for students and teachers on Wednesday, Jan. 2. Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) administrative offices are closed Dec. 24-25, and Jan. 1. The Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. during winter break.

The following is the indoor pool schedule for Henry E. Lackey and North Point high schools, and the Donald M. Wade Aquatic Center at St. Charles High School.

· Closed Dec. 24-25;

· Pools open 1 to 8 p.m., Dec. 26-28;

· Pools open 12 to 6 p.m. Dec. 29-30; and

· Closed Dec. 31-Jan. 1.

CCPS posts calendar information on the school system website, . Select the About menu from the home page to access calendar information including additional holiday closures for the 2018-19 school year.

Legislators, Board of Education discuss issues

Southern Maryland legislators expressed their support for education at the Board of Education's recent legislative breakfast while learning a little more about Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) and two of its challenges—teacher recruitment and retention, and student discipline.

The annual breakfast is a time for the Board of Education and Charles County's legislative delegation to share information, concerns and educational issues before the Maryland General Assembly convenes in January.

Superintendent Kimberly Hill familiarized members of the Southern Maryland delegation, which includes state senators and delegates from Districts 27 and 28, with CCPS statistics including its economic impact as the largest employer in the county. She provided a breakdown of student and staff demographics as well as academic achievements.

Deputy Superintendent Amy Hollstein shared challenges the system has with student discipline and how laws impact the school system's responses to disciplinary infractions. Using two incidents—one where a student overturned desks and emptied shelves, and another where a student scratched a teacher—Hollstein illustrated the frustrations in handling discipline problems, especially with early childhood students. She stressed the main goal of discipline is to change or modify student behavior and to ensure the safety of staff and students.

Hollstein provided examples of the supports CCPS uses in addressing student behavior, including therapeutic implementation, mental health services, restorative practices, expansion of evening high school to include opportunities for special education students and planning for elementary alternative programs. Hollstein also highlighted some of the laws and rules that limit the discipline school administrators can impose.

Nikial Majors, executive director of human resources, presented information about the 282 new teachers hired this school year. Majors said staff attended 39 job fairs and teacher recruitment initiatives included focusing on diversity, expanding utilization of technology and social media, creating an internal talent pipeline, forging relationships with new colleges, extending offers at job fairs and hosting CCPS job fairs. Majors told legislators and the Charles County Commissioners that their support with affordable housing, affordable benefits and adequate funding are the areas where they can have the most impact on the school system's ability to attract and keep quality teachers.

Hill told legislators that Board members and staff are available for consultation on any education issue that might surface in the coming legislative session. Del. C.T. Wilson requested information on the school system's priorities and areas of focus within the Kirwan Commission report. Del. Edith Patterson asked to meet with staff more often.

Members of the Charles County legislative delegation, including Senator-elect Arthur Ellis, Patterson, Del. Susie Proctor and Wilson, along with Charles County Commissioners' President Reuben Collins, Thomasina Coates and Gilbert Bowling, attended the meeting with the Board of Education, Board of Education-elect members and staff.

Board of Education XVII officially takes office

Members of the Board of Education of Charles County XVII took the oath of office Dec. 17 during a swearing-in ceremony held at North Point High School. Four new Board Members—Tajala Battle-Lockhart, Elizabeth Brown, David Hancock and Latina Wilson—were elected in November to their first term in office and join incumbents Jennifer Abell, Michael Lukas and Virginia McGraw, who were re-elected.

Board members serve a four-year term and elect officers annually at the January meeting. Krisha Patel, student member of the Board of Education and Westlake High School senior, officiated the ceremony. North Point students in the Air Force JROTC Color Guard, string quartet and Eagles in Harmony set the stage for the ceremony, providing the presentation of colors prelude and national anthem. Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kimberly Hill welcomed the new Board and ceremony guests.

In her welcoming remarks, Hill shared her excitement to begin working with a new Board. "The seven people who will take their oath of office today will provide vision and direction for Charles County Public Schools for the next four years. You have been entrusted with providing leadership for the academic success of more than 27,000 students. Together, our students are counting on us, and I know that we won't let them down," Hill said.

Sharon Hancock, clerk of the Circuit Court for Charles County, administered the oath of office to each member. Taking the oath of office first was Abell, followed by Battle-Lockhart, Brown, Hancock, Lukas, McGraw and Wilson. Each elected member of the Board of Education XVII then took a moment to provide remarks.

Abell, who is a fourth-term Board member, said she is excited to continue a pledge she made 14 years ago to support the children of Charles County. "Fourteen years ago I made a pledge to serve the children in Charles County. I keep that pledge in mind with every effort on behalf of Charles County Public Schools. This Board through collaborative efforts will work diligently to provide young people the best education possible," Abell said.

Abell is the Senior Development Manager for the March of Dimes Greater Washington, D.C., Market and a longtime resident of Charles County. She was first appointed to the Board in 2004.

This is the first term for Battle-Lockhart, who is the chief executive officer of Simply Consulting, LLC and a certified hospitality educator. She is also the executive director of Phenomenal Young Women, a board member for Arnold House and a member of Real Women of Charles County. She asked her daughter, Chelsey, to help her take the oath of office and credits their bond as a reason for seeking to join the Board.

"She is my reason. If I can get it right for her, I hope to get it right for the rest of our children. I am so excited to be a part of this awesome team. Today, I am proud to be before you and thank those who voted for me," Battle-Lockhart said.

Brown is a retired Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) pupil personnel worker and former classroom teacher. Brown also served as president of the Education Association of Charles County (EACC) for five years and is the current president of the CCPS Retired School Personnel Association. She is newly elected to the Board and is excited for her new role.

"I am excited and looking forward to working with our students, parents and educational leaders. I look forward to working with these great people and have our school system be great," Brown said.

This is the first term for Hancock, who is a small business owner and manages Hancock Family Farms in La Plata. He is a past president and current board member of the Charles County Farm Bureau, and serves as a board member of both the Eastern Virginia Feeder Calf Association and University of Maryland Extension Advisory Board.

In his remarks, Hancock expressed his commitment to bringing the Board together. "I ran on a platform of unity and believe in bringing everyone together. We are all on the same team. I hope we can all work together to put what matters first before us. I can't wait to get started," Hancock said.

Lukas is returning for his third term as a Board member and is an engineer and branch manager for the Department of the Navy. He is a longtime Charles County resident and active volunteer in the community. Lukas, who previously served as both Board chairman and vice chairman, said he looks forward to working with the new Board.

"We need to build bridges and not walls so our children can succeed. We all have talents that we bring to help create the school system our kids need and deserve," Lukas said.

McGraw was re-elected to her second term this year and previously served as chairman. She is a retired elementary school principal who also served as a vice principal and teacher during her 25-year career with CCPS. She was honored as the 2009 CCPS Principal of the Year and is an active member of the CCPS Retired School Personnel Association, EACC and Maryland State Education Association.

McGraw said although she knows the Board will face challenges over the next four years, she will strive to put the best interests of students first. "Through my experience on the Board, I learned about the importance of collaboration and teamwork. I also learned that the most sincere form of respect is to listen to someone. I will strive to make decisions that best support every child in Charles County," McGraw said.

Wilson is a Gulf War veteran who retired from the U.S. Army after serving for 20 years. She is active in the Charles County community and serves as president of the Port Tobacco River Conservancy, and president of the Southern Maryland Alumni Chapter for the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore. Wilson also served as the education liaison for the Charles County Branch of the NACCP.

Wilson is newly elected to the Board and said she is honored to work on behalf of the children in Charles County. "I am so excited and delighted to be entrusted with this responsibility. It is a source of pride for me. I have attended several Board meetings and it has been an eye opening experience to see the complexity of education. I am confident that we will be successful … we are united by our passion," Wilson said.

The new Board has its first meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 8. During the meeting, the Board will elect a chairman and vice chairman to serve a one-year term. To learn more about the Board of Education XVII, visit . The swearing-in ceremony is online at .

North Point It's Academic team wins regional competition

North Point High School's It's Academic team earned the top spot in the annual Charles County Public Schools competition held Dec. 5 at the school. The three-member team of Captain Adam Cullen, Andrew Fan and Amara Gammon won in the championship round with a score of 310 points against La Plata and St. Charles high schools.

The team from St. Charles High School earned second place with a score of 290, followed by La Plata High School in third place with a score of 250.

The North Point team also includes students Amber Wachowski (alternate), Sophia Carpentier, Landon Garrity, Liliana Gordon, Sydney Lewis, Graciella Ndjampa and Kelsey Njembu. Coaches of the team are North Point Spanish teachers Deen Stewart and Moriah Rochlinski.

Each year, the county regional winner goes on to compete in a regional match. The North Point team will compete against Bethesda-Chevy Chase and Centreville high schools in a regional match set to air April 7 on NBC4.

As the second-place regional winner, the team from St. Charles also earned a chance to compete in a regional match that will air next fall. St. Charles students Stephen Duranske, team captain, Renee Deminne and Pierre Dela Cruz competed at the event.

Completing the St. Charles team are student members Darius Dantzler (alternate), Amara Kazim, Maximilian "Max" Kegley-Oyola, Lausanne Oliver, Kate O'Meara, George Southworth and Jahari Williams. St. Charles social studies teacher Matthew Howard and Meghan Potter, an English teacher, coach the team.

Representatives from the Greater Waldorf Jaycees presented the North Point team with a $500 scholarship for its first-place win. As second-place winners, the St. Charles team received a $250 scholarship from the Jaycees.

For participation in the competition, all other high school teams received a $250 scholarship from the Jaycees. Schools compete in the event by selecting three members of their team to participate in the rounds. The other three-member teams who competed at the event, as well as students who complete their school's team, were:

Henry E. Lackey High School—Captain Annie Landgraf, Sterling Jakob Moorehead and Peter Stewart. Completing this team are Brynna Bode (alternate), Garrett Batchelor, Raymond (RG) Bolton, Samuel Guzzone and Sahara Venkatesh. Lackey social studies teacher James Hojnowski coaches the team.

La Plata High School—Captain Michael Gill, Jasmine Washington and Samantha Yorio. Completing the La Plata team are students Elizaveta Gievaya (alternate), Margaret Stine (alternate), Liliana Adamo, Michelle Ameyaw, Daniel Berthiaume, Jenna Burtch, Michelle Candela, Alexandra Elford, Ashton Gordon, Jordan Harris, Bethany Holder, Madelyn Nicholl, Aashka Patel, Aastha Patel, Natalie Patrick, Gillian Pendergist, Kasey Scroggins, Eric Valentine and Emma Vanden Berg. The coaches for the La Plata team are science teacher Michelle Schoenbauer and John Holmes, a retired La Plata testing coordinator.

Maurice J. McDonough High School—Captain Camdin Edge, Daniel Hines and Nicholas Long. Also on the team are Peyton Carney (alternate), Samuel Chernoff, Rachel Cox, Grayson Deeb, Jason Haley, Matthew Jozwik, Omar Manning, Daniel Mears, Maria Molina, Lewis Salada and Olivia Whorl. Joanna Hobbs, library media specialist at McDonough, coaches the team.

Thomas Stone High School—Captain Lyndsay Rivers, Clayton Groves and Alexandria Spencer. Other students on the team include Dosias Cassamajor, John "Tony" Gaskins, Markela Porter, Marlon Rodriguez-Menjivar and Erica Tolson. Nancy Jeffrey, a German teacher at Stone, coaches the team.

Westlake High School—Captain Migue Darcera, Megan Carr and Hanna Schaffner. Westlake students Gillian Gibson (alternate), Deidre Gilliard, Marco Moore, Madison Parrish, Abdullah Shahzad, Kaya Shepherd and Alicia Walker are also on the team. Westlake social studies teacher Natalie Finch-Howard and Amanda D'Onofrio, a Latin teacher, coach the team.

Maryland releases new report card, rating system

Maryland has changed its school report card using a new format that shows how schools across the state are doing. Today, the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) released the new report card, which grades schools on academic performance and growth as well as school quality.

Every Maryland public school receives a final score measuring its performance on the state's new accountability system. Scores show how a school is doing in comparison to others in the state. Each Maryland public school also received a star rating, based on a 1 to 5 scale. All Charles County schools earned three or more stars. Three schools received five stars, 24 schools earned four stars and 10 schools received three stars. Each school's score measures specific indicators, such as success and growth on state tests in English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics, progress in achieving English language proficiency for English learners, chronic absenteeism, preparation for postsecondary success, access to a well-rounded curriculum and graduation rate.

Elementary schools could earn a maximum of 85 percent on the 2017-18 report card. The combined Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) elementary score is 67 percent with no school earning less than three stars. Elementary accountability results are based on academic achievement in English Language Arts (ELA) and math, student growth in ELA and math, completion of a well-rounded curriculum and progress in achieving English language (EL) proficiency. Additionally, the report card includes chronic absenteeism, measured by the percent of students not chronically absent, and access to a well-rounded curriculum.

Middle school scores are based on a maximum of 83 points. CCPS middle schools combined score is 58 percent. Indicators for middle school include achievement in ELA and math, growth in ELA and math, completion of a well-rounded curriculum, progress in achieving EL proficiency, chronic absenteeism and access to a well-rounded curriculum.

CCPS high schools scored 66 points out of a possible 90 points. High school indicators include academic achievement in ELA and math, high school graduation rate, progress in achieving EL proficiency, percentage of ninth graders on track to graduate, chronic absenteeism and access to a well-rounded curriculum.

"We will use this information to target areas of growth for each school so that schools continue to improve every year. The new report card makes the information easier for parents to understand and sets clear accountability measures. Every school in our district has strengths and areas that need improvement," Superintendent Kimberly A. Hill said.

School reports may be found on MSDE's Report Card website at and additional information is posted on the CCPS website at

Charles County Public Schools Star Ratings

Five Stars

· Dr. James Craik Elementary School, T.C. Martin Elementary School and North Point High School

Four Stars

· C. Paul Barnhart Elementary School, Berry Elementary School, William A. Diggs Elementary School, Gale-Bailey Elementary School, Dr. Thomas L. Higdon Elementary School, Indian Head Elementary School, Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer Elementary School, Malcolm Elementary School, Mary H. Matula Elementary School, Arthur Middleton Elementary School, Walter J. Mitchell Elementary School, Dr. Samuel A. Mudd Elementary School, Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy Elementary School, Mary B. Neal Elementary School, J.C. Parks Elementary School, William B. Wade Elementary School, Theodore G. Davis Middle School, Mattawoman Middle School, Piccowaxen Middle School, Henry E. Lackey High School, La Plata High School. Maurice J. McDonough High School, St. Charles High School and Westlake High School

Three Stars

· Dr. Gustavus Brown Elementary School, J.P. Ryon Elementary School, Eva Turner Elementary School, John Hanson Middle School, Matthew Henson Middle School, General Smallwood Middle School, Milton M. Somers Middle School, Benjamin Stoddert Middle School, Thomas Stone High School and Robert D. Stethem Educational Center

Two Stars

· None

One Star

· None

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