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Sanchez, Jones, earn Calvert’s top awards, cars

Left to right, Calvert County 2018 Teacher of the Year Melaney Sanchez, Bayside Auto Group President Geoff Wanamaker, Dr. Victoria Karol and Calvert County 2018 Educational Support Person of the Year Dean Jones.

Chesapeake Beach, MD – A media specialist who aggressively lobbied administrators for a job and a retired cop found themselves in the spotlight Thursday evening, April 12 as Calvert County Public Schools (CCPS) hosted its annual Teacher of the Year and Educational Support Person of the Year Celebration. The event was held at Chesapeake Beach Resort and Spa.

A seven-member committee selected Dr. Melaney Sanchez of Mount Harmony Elementary School (MHES) from a lineup of 24 outstanding educators, each nominated by their schools, as CCPS’ 2018 Teacher of the Year. “Every day I get to work with amazing people,” said Sanchez, who moved to Calvert County from Michigan in hopes of getting a job with the local school system.

“She is passionate about teaching children and she can always be heard encouraging someone to have a wonderful day,” the MHES staff wrote in their nominee presentation. “Earlier this year, she provided valuable input that supported the successful revision of the school’s Student Services Team student referral process.” Sanchez stated that the best part of her job is that as the school’s media specialist, the school library is her classroom and she is able to interact with everyone.

Another seven-person committee selected the 2018 Educational Support Person of the Year. With the recent focus on the school system’s safety advocates, it seemed quite coincidental that Patuxent High School’s (PHS) Dean M. Jones earned the honor. Jones is a retired Prince George’s County Police Department lieutenant. His 26-year career preceded his current stint as a PHS safety advocate.

“Mr. Jones is always compassionate and patient with staff and students alike without compromising his integrity or the enforcement of school rules,” PHS administrators stated in Jones’ nominee presentation. “He is always calm in a rough situation.”
“What a talented group of people,” said Jones of his fellow nominees. The former police officer is a 1980 graduate of Northern High School.

The county’s top teacher goes on to compete at the state level with the possibility of representing Maryland on the national level. Calvert remains one of the few jurisdictions in the state that honors support staff—teaching assistants, secretaries, nurses, custodians, safety advocates and other staffers. For the past several years, Bayside Auto Group has provided Calvert’s Teacher of the Year with a vehicle for two years. At this year’s ceremony, Bayside President Geoff Wanamaker announced a modification. For the first time ever, Calvert’s Educational Support Person of the Year will also get a vehicle to use for two years. Wanamaker’s announcement prompted Calvert County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Daniel Curry to leap out his chair and lead the applause. Soon everyone in the room was standing and applauding. For Sanchez Wanamaker presented the keys to a Toyota RAV 4 while Jones received the keys to a Chevrolet Elantra.

Prior to the suspense that occurred before the 2018 winners were announced, the 49 nominees enjoyed a buffet dinner and dessert. They were also entertained by a trio of musically talented students. The students—vocalist Angelique Almuete of Calvert High School (CHS), keyboard player Wyatt Garrett of Huntingtown High School (HHS) and flutist Jonay Boylan of CHS—performed the familiar “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” The three are students of CHS chorus teacher Kelly Combs, CHS band teacher Demetri Bedel and HHS band teacher Don Naumann and the group was prepared for the performance by retired principal Dr. Ramona Crowley-Goldberg.

There were also congratulations delivered by elected officials and their representatives. “This has been a great year for education,” declared Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., who said the General Assembly is setting aside a $200 million windfall for education. He pledged to help Calvert County regain its status as the jurisdiction with Maryland’s highest paid teachers.

“We are working to help our educators,” said Delegate Michael Jackson. “We have much work to do.”

Delegate Mark Fisher noted that members of the General Assembly worked in a truly bipartisan fashion to pass a bill that establishes the Richard W. Collins III Leadership with Honor scholarship program. The measure honors Owings resident Collins, who was murdered just a few days before he was due to graduate from Bowie State University. The program will award $1 million each year to deserving Reserve Officer Training Corps students at each of the state’s four historically black universities, including Bowie State.

Calvert County Public Schools’ Strategic Partnerships and Community Engagement Director Dr. Victoria Karol called the work done by the system’s educators “a tremendous responsibility.” Karol, who is the lead organizer of the annual event, read the Paula J. Fox poem “Heart of a Teacher” during her opening remarks. Later, Karol acknowledged all the local businesses and organizations providing gifts for the honorees.

The nominees also received words of encouragement from last year’s winners.
“You are all magnificent representatives of our county,” declared CCPS 2017 Teacher of the Year Kelly Raby.

“Step out of your comfort zone,” said 2017 Educational Support Person of the Year Terri Franklin. “Continue to be inspirations.”

Contact Marty Madden at marty.madden@thebaynet.com

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