Teach­ers, staff hon­ored as ex­em­plary em­ploy­ees

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The Board of Ed­u­ca­tion hon­ored six Charles County Pub­lic Schools (CCPS) em­ploy­ees dur­ing its Fe­bru­ary meet­ing for their ded­i­ca­tion and com­mit­ment to teach­ing and learn­ing, and for mak­ing a dif­fer­ence in the lives of stu­dents, ac­cord­ing to a re­lease.

Among those hon­ored were Jen­nifer Brown, an art teacher at Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer Ele­men­tar y School; Joy Fisher, an in­struc­tional as­sis­tant at Wil­liam B. Wade El­e­men­tary School; Robin Rid­dick, a first-grade teacher at Arthur Mid­dle­ton Ele­men­tar y School; Diane Smith, a me­dia in­struc­tional as­sis­tant at Dr. Sa­muel A. Mudd Ele­men­tar y School; Heather Ton­nessen, a lan­guage arts teacher at Matthew Hen­son Mid­dle School; and Tiffany VanDyke, the co­or­di­na­tor of al­ter­na­tive pro­grams at the Robert D. Stethem Ed­u­ca­tional Cen­ter.

Brown, a team leader at Jenifer for many years, en­hances the learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment by dis­play­ing stu­dent art work around the school. “Each sea­son of each year, Mrs. Brown cre­ates an elab­o­rate dis­play on a wall within the school,” Mike Hoff­man, vice prin­ci­pal, wrote in a nom­i­na­tion let­ter. “This sea­sonal dis­play of art is enor­mous, three di­men­sional and ex­tremely cre­ative. Her work is highly de­tailed and imag­i­na­tive.” Brown is the trea­surer for Jenifer’s Par­ent Teacher Or­ga­ni­za­tion (PTO) and is the Paint Nite spon­sor. Out­side of school, she vol­un­teers at Our Lady’s Lit­tle Chris­tian preschool at Our Lady Help of Chris­tian Catholic Church and at bingo nights. “Mrs. Brown makes Jenifer Ele­men­tar y shine with color and art projects through­out the hall­ways,” Hoff­man wrote, adding that she and Jenifer were rec­og­nized at a County First Bank hol­i­day art show. “Mrs. Brown also strives to meet the needs of stu­dents with spe­cial needs. She en­cour­ages stu­dents to come into her class­room to work on projects or ex­plore their own cre­ative tal­ents.”

Fisher makes sure Wade stays green, the re­lease states. She is the Go Green club’s co­or­di­na­tor, leads the Go Green Team, man­ages the Go Green Ed­line web­site, leads school­wide re­cy­cling ef­forts, co­or­di­nates Earth Week ac­tiv­i­ties and sev­eral other en­vi­ron­men­tally-friendly events. She is a vol­un­teer and trea­surer for Wade’s so­cial com­mit­tee and is a vol­un­teer on the tal­ent show com­mit­tee. She vol­un­teers for Re­lay for Life, the Wade dance team and for the bas­ket­ball team. “Mrs. Joy Fisher has demon­strated a high de­gree of pride and ex­cel­lence in her po­si­tion as an in­struc­tional as­sis­tant,” Wade Prin­ci­pal Kevin Jack­son wrote in a nom­i­na­tion let­ter. “She has gone above and be­yond in her sup­port of Wade hav­ing a healthy en­vi­ron­ment. She has per­formed in an ex­em­plar y man­ner demon­strat­ing Wade’s Team Ex­cel­lence spirit.” Fisher en­cour­aged the school’s staff and stu­dents to par­tic­i­pate in pa­per­less chal­lenges. “She has mo­ti­vated nu­mer­ous stu­dents to re­duce, re­use and re­cy­cle for the good of our en­vi­ron­ment,” Jack­son wrote. “Wade has been rec­og­nized by a num­ber of out­side or­ga­ni­za­tions due to sig­nif­i­cant work in con­tests and chal­lenges sup­port­ing the Green School ini­tia­tive.” Fisher pro­vides cov­er­age for var­i­ous grade lev­els and pro­vides in­struc­tion for a sec­ond-grade group, gets re­source books for first and sec­ond graders and sup­ports class­room ac­tiv­i­ties. Fisher also helps with the morn­ing car rid­ers traf­fic line, af­ter­noon day­care du­ties and the morn­ing an­nounce­ments.

Rid­dick teaches a first-grade in­clu­sion class at Mid­dle­ton. Dur­ing the 2015-16 school year, her stu­dents achieved the high­est growth in­creases on CCPS’s stu­dent learn­ing ob­jec­tives test­ing in both read­ing and math in the school, Louis D’Am­bro­sio, prin­ci­pal of Mid­dle­ton, wrote in the nom­i­na­tion let­ter. “She works with staff and stu­dents to achieve im­pres­sive in­struc­tional gains,” he wrote. This year, Rid­dick is a the first-grade team leader, a po­si­tion she has held in the past. She also is a mem­ber of the Pos­i­tive Be­hav­ioral In­ter­ven­tions and Sup­port (PBIS) com­mit­tee which meets dur­ing the sum­mer. She reaches out for sup­port when work­ing with stu­dents who need a bit more help. “Mrs. Rid­dick seeks out as­sis­tance when work­ing with chal­leng­ing stu­dents to en­sure the stu­dents are re­ceiv­ing high qual­ity in­struc­tion,” D’Am­bro­sio wrote. “Mrs. Rid­dick has worked with the school psy­chol­o­gist and coun­sel­ing ser vices,” to bet­ter serve her stu­dents. Out­side of school, Rid­dick teaches Wed­nes­day night Bi­ble class for el­e­men­tary school-aged chil­dren at her church and co-teaches teens on Sun­day morn­ings.

Smith has been at Dr. Mudd since 1997 and has served as a read­ing in­struc­tional as­sis­tant, spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion in­struc­tional as­sis­tant and is cur­rently the me­dia in­struc­tional as­sis­tant. She be­gan spon­sor­ing the school’s His­tory Club in 2002. The club meets at 7:45 a.m. Wed­nes­days to dis­cuss his­tor y. There are guest speak­ers and field trips. “The amaz­ing part is they go on these trips on Satur­day morn­ings through­out the year,” Mudd Prin­ci­pal Kim­berly Hairston wrote in a nom­i­na­tion let­ter. “She even gets six to 10 staff mem­bers to at­tend and help chap­er­one the stu­dents. They travel to Jamestown, Va., Williamsburg, Va., Wash­ing­ton, D.C., Get­tys­burg, Pa., Mount Ver­non in Vir­ginia and many des­ti­na­tions.” The trips are planned by Smith who makes them fun, en­gag­ing and in­clu­sive, fifth-grade teacher Martha Peer wrote. “At the start of the year, fifth graders walk taller and feel priv­i­leged to join the his­tor y club,” Re­becca Van Brunt, Mudd’s mu­sic teacher wrote. “They learn so much from her and then they see and ex­pe­ri­ence his­tor y first­hand on field trips.”

A lan­guage arts teacher at Hen­son, Ton­nessen in­spires her stu­dents to be life­long learn­ers, the re­lease states. She pre­pares stu­dents for col­lege and ca­reers through her work with Ad­vance­ment Via In­di­vid­ual De­ter­mi­na­tion (AVID) and mo­ti­vates Hen­son kids to learn chess and help the com­mu­nity. A 20-year teach­ing vet­eran, Ton­nessen shares her love of learn­ing with her stu­dents. “She reg­u­larly at­tends pro­fes­sional devel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties with the de­sire to im­prove her teach­ing by al­ways be­ing open to learn­ing,” Christina Ca­ballero, Hen­son’s prin­ci­pal, wrote in a nom­i­na­tion let­ter. Ton­nessen gives her time and tal­ents by lead­ing in many school op­por­tu­ni­ties and coaches the school’s chess club, which has more than 40 stu­dent mem­bers. She co-spon­sors Hen­son’s stu­dent gov­ern­ment as­so­ci­a­tion, a group that has raised money for the Make-a-Wish Foun­da­tion, Fairy God­moth­ers and the South­ern Mary­land Food Bank. Ton­nessen, who cre­ates aware­ness of jour­nal­ism and broad­cast­ing through her work with the school’s CNN club, gives stu­dents the op­por­tu­nity to an­a­lyze news broad­casts in or­der to ex­plore the struc­ture and news­wor­thi­ness of events. They go on to in­ves­ti­gate, write and broad­cast re­ports on Hen­son’s weekly news show. Ton­nessen is open to new ways to im­prove her teach­ing, in­clud­ing us­ing tech­nol­ogy in the class­room. “She be­lieves that as ed­u­ca­tors we must never stop learn­ing,” Ca­ballero wrote. “She be­lieves it is pos­si­ble to find a way to con­nect to ever y stu­dent.”

VanDyke is a life­long learner who is the co­or­di­na­tor of al­ter­na­tive pro­grams at the Stethem Cen­ter. Over­see­ing the day-to­day op­er­a­tions of evening high school and the Vir­tual Academy, VanDyke works with stu­dents, par­ents and staff through­out the county to pro­vide al­ter­na­tive ed­u­ca­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties for stu­dents, Stethem’s Prin­ci­pal Eve­lyn Arnold wrote in a nom­i­na­tion let­ter. “Her re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in­clude — but are not lim­ited to — keep­ing par­ents in­formed of stu­dent progress and at­ten­dance, train­ing staff and stu­dents on the use of APEX soft­ware, and be­ing an in­te­gral part of the team that re­views ap­pli­ca­tions for stu­dents ap­ply­ing to these pro­grams,” Arnold wrote.

Each month, the Board hon­ors sev­eral out­stand­ing staff mem­bers.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO The Board of Ed­u­ca­tion hon­ored six Charles County Pub­lic Schools em­ploy­ees dur­ing its Fe­bru­ary meet­ing for their ded­i­ca­tion and com­mit­ment to teach­ing and learn­ing, and for mak­ing a dif­fer­ence in the lives of stu­dents. Pic­tured from left are Joy Fisher, an in­struc­tional as­sis­tant at Wil­liam B. Wade El­e­men­tary School; Tiffany VanDyke, the co­or­di­na­tor of al­ter­na­tive pro­grams at the Robert D. Stethem Ed­u­ca­tional Cen­ter; Heather Ton­nessen, a lan­guage arts teacher at Matthew Hen­son Mid­dle School; Diane Smith, a me­dia in­struc­tional as­sis­tant at Dr. Sa­muel A. Mudd El­e­men­tary School; Jen­nifer Brown, an art teacher at Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer El­e­men­tary School; and Robin Rid­dick, a first-grade teacher at Arthur Mid­dle­ton El­e­men­tary School.

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