Westover Elementary Teacher Wins Agnes Meyer Award
Mary Hawkins-Jones, a fifth grade teacher at Westover Elementary School, is this year’s winner of the Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Award, presented annually to one exceptional teacher from each Washington, D.C., metropolitan area school district by The Washington Post.
Hawkins-Jones began her teaching career with Westover in 2006. For the past seven years, she’s been the Grade 5 team leader and recently won the Most Hopeful Teacher in America award from Gallup, the polling giant.
Westover Principal Patricia Kelly, who hired Hawkins-Jones in 1990, called her “the standard that I use when comparing and evaluating all others on my staff. … She sets high expectations for her students and works tirelessly with each child in attaining them.”
Colleagues describe her as a caring, innovative and exceptional teacher. She determines each child’s individual needs and strengths and designs differentiated plans for instruction. She provides clear expectations and encouragement, and connects learning to her students’ interests and daily life experiences, and challenges them to think critically. She fosters self-esteem and success by giving students confidence to persevere when faced with obstacles.
Her actions in the classroom have yielded powerful results. For the past four years, she has eliminated the number of students reading below grade level while increasing the number of students reading above grade level. Her students also continually achieve outstanding results on the Maryland School Assessment (MSA). Over the years, she has also mentored 36 new teachers and served as a facilitator for the New Educator Orientation.
As the Agnes Meyer Award winner, Hawkins-Jones will receive a $3,000 cash award and will be honored at a ceremony at The Washington Post on May 13, along with other winners.
Argyle MS Principal Honored with Educational Leadership Award
Robert W. Dodd, principal at Argyle Middle School since 2009, has won this year’s Washington Post Distinguished Educational Leadership Award.
Dodd began his teaching career as a fourth-grade teacher at Sequoyah Elementary School in 1995. He served as assistant principal at Highland and Piney Branch elementary schools, before moving to Takoma Park Elementary as acting principal and later to Strathmore Elementary as principal. He’s been at Argyle since 2009.
His leadership style is described as creative, with a strong focus on student needs.
Kelli Phillips, staff development teacher at Argyle, wrote of him: “Mr. Dodd leads our school with one goal in mind: student achievement. … He wanted to develop a culture that was based on high-quality proscriptive teaching for students to help them become empowered active learners, problem solvers and successful members of the community and of society.”
With Argyle a magnet school for digital design and development, he secured funding and helped design two classes unique to MCPS—Innovative Minds and Innovative Minds 2. Both use project-based learning environments to focus on incorporating technology and other disciplines to create solutions to real-world problems.
Dodd also maintains a continuing dialogue with students, parents and staff. Each Sunday, he emails parents with listings of school events and important reminders for the week. He also makes weekly phonecalls to parents—in English and Spanish. PTSA enrollment has increased each year under his tenure.
Dodd and his family have participated in Park Clean Up Day at Rock Creek Park, as well as at Argyle dances, fairs, picnics and other celebrations. He organized two “painting parties” to help spruce up the school’s interior. He arranged for the entire staff to spend time on team-building activities at the Lathrop E. Smith Center.
The Distinguished Educational Leadership Award is given annually by The Washington Post to principals in Washington-area school districts who go beyond the day-to-day demands of their position to create an exceptional educational environment. Along with other winners, Dodd will be invited to attend an all-expenses paid four-day leadership seminar. Winners will also be honored at a Post ceremony on May 6.
People On the Move
The Board of Education made 11 administrative appointments at its business meeting on April 29. They are:
- Debra A. Berner, director, Department of Student Services, Office of Special Education and Student Services
- Warren Wade Coplen, director, Skillful Teaching and Learning
- Lynne Zarate, director, Division of Maintenance
- Matthew A. Devan, director of School Support and Improvement of Elementary Schools, Office of School Support and Improvement
- Audra M. Fladung, director of School Support and Improvement of Elementary Schools, Office of School Support and Improvement
- Kurshanna L. Johnson, supervisor, Division of Accelerated and Enriched Instruction, Office of Curriculum and Instructional Programs
- Debra K. Mugge, principal, Wheaton High School
- Joe L. Rubens, Jr., principal, John F. Kennedy High School
- Stacy A. Ashton, principal, Burnt Mills Elementary School
- Cynthia A. Houston, principal, Pine Crest Elementary School
- Matthew F. Kerwin, magnet coordinator, Eastern Middle School
Retirement celebrations are being held for—
Charlotte Boucher, principal at John Poole Middle School, who is retiring after 29 years with MCPS. Her celebration will be held at 5 p.m. on Friday, May 30, at the Golden Bull Grand Café, 7 Dalamar St. in Gaithersburg. The cost is $40 for dinner buffet and gift. Dinner begins at 6 p.m.; the program begins at 7. Send payment to Mary Phillips at Poole MS, 17014 Tom Fox Road, Poolesville, MD, 20837. Make checks payable to John Poole Middle School. RSVP by May 16 to Darlene Umberger at 301-972-7979.
Nancy Craig, second grade teacher at Sherwood Elementary School, who is retiring after 35 years with MCPS. Her celebration will be held at 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 22 at the Inn at Brookeville Farms, 19501 Georgia Ave., Brookeville. The cost is $40, which includes meal and entertainment. Send payment to Carol Walker at Sherwood ES, 1401 Olney-Sandy Spring Road, Silver Spring, MD, 20860. For more information, contact Jenny Ficco at 301-924-3195.
Scott Krichbaum, Family and Consumer Sciences teacher at Julius West Middle School, who is retiring after 30 years with MCPS. His celebration will be held at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 22, at Circle D Farm, 15535 Carrs Mill Road in Woodbine, Md. The cost is $40 for a picnic-style dinner, non-alcoholic beverages and gift. Send payment to Meghan Styles at Julius West, 651 Great Falls Road, Rockville, MD, 20850. RSVP by May 12 to Styles.
Tammy Ripley, instrumental music teacher at Cloverly and Cannon Road elementary schools, who is retiring after 30 years of service with MCPS. Her celebration will be held at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, May 28 at the Inn at Brookeville Farms, 19501 Georgia Ave., Brookeville. The cost is $42 for dinner, tax and gratuity. Send payment to Jenn Harrill-Taylor at Cloverly, 800 Briggs Chaney Road, Silver Spring, MD, 20905. RSVP by May 14 to Harrill-Taylor.
Congratulations to Charles Lyles for 40 years of service. A talented building service manager and kind person, Mr. Lyles makes Shady Grove the best! Thank you!
—Edward Owusu, principal, Shady Grove Middle School
Shout out to Flower Valley ES Principal Gay Melnick for her superb performance at the staff/parent basketball game. Her dedication to engaging the community was evident from the moment she stepped onto the court.
—Amy Gensemer, supervisor, Prek–12 Science, Technology and Engineering
Kudos to my building service manager Cheryl Thompson. She is dedicated not only to her team, but also to Argyle and to MCPS. We appreciate you.
—Walter Railey, plant equipment operator, Argyle Middle School
Cassandra E. Kovacs, academic intervention teacher at Albert Einstein High School, died on April 11. She had been with MCPS for more than 11 years.
Beth V. Vige, teacher at Wood Acres Elementary School, died on March 29. She had been with MCPS for more than 25 years.