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Board Honors Exemplary CCPS Staff at its February meeting

LA PLATA, Md. - The Board of Education at its Feb. 9 meeting honored five Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) staff members for their commitment to the school system and student success. Each month, the Board honors staff members chosen by their school principals who demonstrate their dedication to teaching and learning. The recognition ceremony was held in a virtual format and featured pre-recorded introductions and recognitions from school principals.

Honored were Cheryl Birmingham, Juan Gilmer, Kimberly McCloskey, LisaSue Smiroldo and Adele Youngborg.

Birmingham is the pupil personnel worker at La Plata High School. In her role, Birmingham serves as an advocate for students, families and staff. She works with the La Plata administrative team to explore ways to best support students. During this year’s virtual instruction, Birmingham has connected with families and students to ensure they had the technology resources for online learning. She helps to support families with attendance and grade issues, behavior concerns and provides resources to students in need. Birmingham keeps her certifications up to date and participates in professional development to learn additional strategies to support students. Each year during the holidays, she coordinates family Thanksgiving baskets and Christmas gift donations. She is well known among her colleagues as a leader among her peers and someone who always has a smile on her face. La Plata Principal Douglass Dolan said Birmingham leads by example. “Mrs. Birmingham always goes the extra mile to support students. She does an excellent job and leads by example. She is always willing to put in the time to get things done right,” Dolan wrote in a nomination statement. 

Gilmer is the computer analyst at Berry Elementary School. He regularly supports technology needs at Berry, and also supports technology needs at Mattawoman Middle School. Due to virtual learning, technology needs increased, and Gilmer stepped up and took the lead to ensure students and staff had access to computers and internet. He manages computer, laptops and devices for more than 700 students and helps to support more than 1,000 devices at Mattawoman.  Gilmer has trained, mentored and assisted other CCPS computer analysts to support professional development and growth. He exudes commitment and service. His nomination for recognition by the Board was unanimous among Berry staff. Gilmer has worked on-site throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure computers are organized, programmed and documented for students who need technology access. He also takes the time to mentor students when possible and is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran. Berry Principal Lou D’Ambrosio said Gilmer is an example of professionalism. “Juan continues to be an exemplary employee in so many ways at work and in the community. He donates his time and talents to his church and the homeless. He works with the youth as often as he can to promote healthy living and exercise as a way of life. He is truly a stand-up guy,” D’Ambrosio wrote in a nomination letter. 

McCloskey is a special education teacher at Dr. Thomas L. Higdon Elementary School. She works with students in the ACHIEVE program, which stands for Academics, Communication, and Heightened Independence for Education, Vocation and Engagement. The ACHIEVE program is designed to meet the needs of students with cognitive disabilities. McCloskey is passionate about teaching and exudes a love of making learning special. She provides supports for students to use with virtual learning and inspires her students to always do their best. To help her students during online instruction, McCloskey has created adaptive workbooks, task boxes and other fine motor activities. She advocates to help her students achieve success. McCloskey partners with parents to ensure students are meeting learning goals and objectives, as well as developing important social skills. Her students are engaged and enjoy seeing their teacher each day. Outside of virtual learning, McCloskey helps with a Café Skills shop in which students sell snacks to staff. The shop ran last school year during in-person learning. The shop provides students with customer service and communication skills. She also helped to launch a Best Buddies Club at Higdon called Husky Buddies. Higdon Principal Kathleen Morgan said McCloskey is an asset to the school instructional team. “Ms. McCloskey has a remarkable talent of inspiring her students to always try their best and to persevere through tasks they feel may be challenging. Ms. Mac, as the children call her, keeps the students engaged with her creativity, humor and enthusiasm,” Morgan wrote in a nomination letter. 

Smiroldo is the media specialist at Piccowaxen Middle School. Smiroldo has worked for CCPS for nearly 20 years. She has led the media center at Piccowaxen for the past 12 years and is a go-to resource for students and staff. Smiroldo is kind and welcoming, and supports students and staff with any media center needs. She strives to maintain an updated, inclusive and diverse library collection and works with language arts teachers to ensure materials are up to date and support instruction. Smiroldo also coordinates school book fairs, supports the drama club and is the eighth grade Project Lit co-leader. Project Lit is a national literacy movement of educators and students committed to increasing access to diverse books and promoting a love of reading. Smiroldo also oversees the school website and launched both a virtual open house and college week presentation for students. She regularly attends professional development sessions and is a member of the American Library Association and the American Association of School Librarians. Piccowaxen Principal Wendell Martin said Smiroldo is an asset to the school community. “She opens the media center during lunchtime. Students feel safe and comfortable in the library. She supports the Book Dash curbside program and assists at orientations, open houses and with the Spelling Bee. She helps to sponsor several clubs that support our students,” Martin wrote in a nomination letter. 

Youngborg is the food service manager at Eva Turner Elementary School. Throughout the COVID-19 school closures, Youngborg has supported students and families each day. She ensures daily that children and their families have access to meals. She is known among Turner staff as “Ms. Adele” and students smile when they see her. Youngborg leads by example and exudes passion for her job. During virtual instruction, she collaborated with school staff to ensure all Turner students had daily meal access. During in-person learning, Youngborg would deliver breakfast to classrooms for students. Students were always excited to see Ms. Adele and listen to her positive praise. Her work ethic is apparent in all that she does to support Turner families, and other Charles County children. Youngborg has worked hard during this past year to serve meals and ensure students are taken care of and fed. Turner Principal Gary Lesko said Youngborg helps to make the school a better place for children. “She leads by example. She certainly makes Turner a stronger building with her work ethic and passion for her job. She has played a major role in ensuring that students have meals for the day,” Lesko wrote in a nomination statement. 

The Board each month honors CCPS students and staff selected by their principal for recognition.

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