SONDRA O. CAWTHORNE, English/Reading, Alternative Education Center, 6 years in Harford County –
Nominated by the principal and instructional facilitator of the Alternative Education Center, Sondra
Cawthorne teaches ninth grade and eleventh grade Reading and English at the facility located in the
Aberdeen-based Center for Educational Opportunity where students attend because of economic, social, or
disciplinary reasons rather than their home school. Mrs. Cawthorne is credited with taking students who come
to the center, often with low self-esteem and little self-confidence, and helping young people to begin
believing in themselves again. Mark Buzminsky, her principal, says she never loses focus on helping students
in the classroom and to be successful in life. “Mrs. Cawthorne believes that all children learn best in a
nurturing environment,” said Mr. Buzminsky. “She provides tough love for each of the students and they enjoy
her spirit.” Aberdeen High Principal Tom Szerensits says his longtime friend and colleague “maintains the
same level of enthusiasm, drive, and optimism that is most readily seen in a first year teacher,” adding
that she “has never lost her love for learning and for students.” He calls her a “role model not only for
her students, but the faculty with whom she works.” Joe Mascari, principal at Magnolia Middle School, worked
with Mrs. Cawthorne when she was a faculty member there. “She demanded her students reach higher than they
believed they could reach (but) showed a sincere interest in them as individuals and was consistently fair
in dealing with them.” Steve Cunningham is assistant principal at the Alternative Education Center.
“Sondra’s students know that she will not ‘sell’ them short just because they are at Alternative Education –
she is aware and compassionate about their individual life stories, but does not use that as an excuse for
giving less than her best as an instructor,” he said. “Once they see that she won’t let them flounder, and
that she won’t tolerate mediocrity, students start to get themselves psyched up and slowly start to find
that a ‘real’ student may be hidden in there somewhere.” Amy Onorato is teacher mentor at the Alternative
Education Center. She talks about Mrs. Cawthorne’s “caring attitude and genuine interest in her student’s
lives,” adding that she “sets high, yet attainable standards for every student she teaches.” Alternative
Education Behavioral Specialist Lance Hawkins said the “consistency and structure” Mrs. Cawthorne provides
in every class is “like marrow to the bones for at-risk students,” adding that she takes students “who have
seemingly given up on school” and has them “take responsibility and pride in their assignments.” Aberdeen
High counselor Marquis Dwarte, a former student of Mrs. Cawthorne in a regular school assignment, says his
mentor “willingly exhausts herself to ensure that each student’s maximum potential is fulfilled,” adding,
“It is educators like Mrs. Cawthorne who gave me the drive to pursue a career in education with the ultimate
goal of making a difference in the lives of students by bringing out the best in each of them.” Colleague
Robert Bolth said Mrs. Cawthorne has “motivated me to become a more effective instructor – the creativity
and hard work that she pours into every task that she takes on models for professionalism to which we all
should aspire.” Another colleague, Ann Cymek, said Mrs. Cawthorne “truly enjoys what she does and the
successes her students have are her rewards.” Mrs. Cymek talks about the progress a class Mrs. Cawthorne
volunteered to teach this year composed of students reading well below grade level. “They look forward to
the class and all have discovered the joy of reading,” she said. “Her daily challenges to the students have
made many of them realize they are able to achieve way beyond what they ever had previously – she believes
in them, which, in turn, makes them believe in themselves. School Nurse Deborah Avampato talks about her
colleague’s empathetic spirit, “providing me with concerns regarding not only the medical but social and
emotional concerns of all our students.” Ninth grader Mandy Fox said about her teacher, “She always says to
never give up and she is always helping.” Another freshman at the AEC, Angela Myers, says, “She tells me I
can do it, and, if I don’t understand, she’s always there to help.” Mike O’Brien, instructional facilitator
and co-nominator, said Mrs. Cawthorne is “a model for high quality instruction every day.” Junior Jazmen Gee
says his English teacher “is very dedicated to teaching as well as learning – she wants all of her students
to succeed and learn as much as they can.” Mrs. Cawthorne’s teaching day extends beyond the regular hours
into the evening two days a week. During the summer, she teaches students trying to recover credit. “I have
never met a more dedicated educator than Mrs. Cawthorne,” said Mr. O’Brien. Junior Sharayah Levere said, “I
always come to her if I’m having trouble with another student.” Another junior, Emily Fahnestock said, “You
can talk to her about anything and she doesn’t judge, and that’s hard to find.” Mrs. Cawthorne talks about
her most memorable student whom she taught early in her career. Patty Lee, whose dreams of success as a
13-year-old were sidetracked by drugs, was to be incarcerated. Mrs. Cawthorne wrote a poem for her troubled
student. “Several months later, I received a letter from Patty Lee, telling me that she had shared my poem
with the other girls in her cottage,” Mrs. Cawthorne said. “I was a cocky young teacher then – she opened my
eyes – I’ve grown older and wiser – I realize that all students, even those who seem unreachable, deserve
our best, and unless we at least try to make a difference, then we cannot call ourselves ‘good’ teachers.”
JEANA C. ESSERY, Science, Fallston Middle School, 13 years in Harford County – Imagine being part
of a cold air mass that meets a warm air mass and experience what happens in that situation or talking
to scientists in a submarine – that and much more is what happens in Jeana C. Essery’s Fallston Middle
School sixth grade science class every day. Meteorology, oceanography, extensive use of the internet,
satellite tracking, and other hands-on activities build excitement and enthusiasm in her class.
Nominated by her principal, Kaye Blome, Mrs. Essery is described as providing a risk-free environment
with instructional strategies that allow for student success. From lining up in the hallway to replicate
the solar system, to throwing objects of varying shapes and weights off the balcony to determine the
effects of gravity, to students making their own barometers, Mrs. Essery builds excitement for science
learning. She invites special needs students into her classroom and includes them in activities. She is
described as a person whom “you never see in a bad mood or hear a negative word from her.” Hugs, smiles,
and a listening ear make her a mentor and role model to her colleagues and is known as Fallston Middle’s
“Good Will Ambassador.” Honored by having her class chosen as one of 12 in the country to take part in a
satellite conversation with oceanographers on the floor of the Pacific, Mrs. Essery, nonetheless, cites
“Danny” as her most memorable student. Having a master’s degree in Special Education and Elementary
Education, Mrs. Essery worked with Danny for three years in middle school. “Dan was genuine – when he
was happy, he let you know, and when he was not happy, he let you know, too (and) he expected others to
do the same. “He made me laugh every day and, if he was absent, the classroom felt different, and he was
genuinely missed.” Mrs. Essery said Danny taught her to be patient, adding, “He taught me you should
always give people the benefit of the doubt and treat everyone as a friend, without judgment.” Mrs.
Blome cites Mrs. Essery’s movement from special education to science as contributing her patience and
kindness. “Students seek her out for support when they need someone to listen – she has a calm presence
and is able to analyze situations and determine solutions,” Mrs. Blome said. “She is a quiet, behind the
scenes teacher who pushes students to experience success while she remains in the background so that the
focus is on the student.” Teacher Mentor Ken Horn talks about Mrs. Essery’s student-centered, engaging
lessons that use the latest technology with hands-on activities that lead to real life science
applications. “In addition to her exemplary science lessons, Mrs. Essery is keenly aware of her
student’s individual needs,” he said. HCPS Science Supervisor Dennis Kirkwood says it is Mrs. Essery’s
love of science and willingness to be a learner along with her students that is a major asset to her
instruction. “She models what she wants her students to be – enthusiastic learners and practitioners of
new knowledge and skills,” Dr. Kirkwood said. FMS seventh grader Jade Petrucci remembers his time in
Mrs. Essery’s class last year. “Science class was challenging, but we were successful because Mrs.
Essery made learning fun – when we were learning about volcanoes, we did a very fun experiment where we
took a bottle of Diet Coke and dropped a pack of Mentos inside the bottle – it made quite an explosion,”
said Jade. “Mrs. Essery has made a huge impact on me and I will never forget her class.” Another former
student, Amanda English said Mrs. Essery made every student “fall in love with sixth grade science – she
was the best science teacher I ever had and I will never forget her.” Still another student from a year
ago, Sarah Bittle, talked about the Volvo Ocean Race in which Mrs. Essery involved her class last year,
mentioning a field trip to the Inner Harbor. Winners of the essay contest connected with the activity
enjoyed meeting the ship’s crew, watching their teacher lie in a shaky hammock on the U.S.S.
Constellation, sample the hard, dry, simple food, and help clean decks. “She makes every day better and
more exciting for people,” Sarah said. Mrs. Essery is her team’s service learning coordinator,
sponsoring ‘Cougar Friends,’ an after school group where students associate with children with special
needs. One more former student, Matthew Wang, called Mrs. Essery “patient, fun, kind, understanding –
and she makes the most dumb-sounding experiences special and interesting – she made learning fun, and is
an inspiration to me that will stay with me for a long time to come.” Jennifer Schoensein loved her
sixth grade science experience last year, saying her teacher “took science to the next level, making it
fun and exciting.” Kelly Kundratic, the student who, as a sixth grader, talked to oceanographers on the
floor of the Pacific, was chosen as one of Maryland Pride’s representatives that year. “She adopted a
turtle for us to watch and keep track of – every week we would watch this turtle’s path and that would
be part of our lesson,” said the current eighth grader. “She is a truly amazing teacher –without her
influence, I don’t think I would be as interested in science as I am now.” Eighth grader Matthew Kenner
said he looks up to Mrs. Essery, even though he is taller than his former teacher. “I had no clue how
much fun science would be – her teaching skills surpass all others and her kind, loving, gentle and
down-to-earth attitude is one you can’t seem to get enough of.”
KATHLEEN A. GARAFOLA, Second Grade, North Bend Elementary School, 9 years in Harford County –
“Warm and inviting; caring and nurturing” is the description of the climate in Kathy Garafola’s class.
Consistently asking the question “Why?” – Ms.Garafola employs her conversational style with
“think-alouds” or “hmmm, I’m thinking…” to stimulate thought. Described as “intuitive and energetic,”
her students respond to the gentle challenges she issues with enthusiasm. Nominated by parents of three
students in her class, Ms.Garafola is said to have an “instinctive ability” to find the strengths in her
students, and then highlights those positives to others in the class. As Teacher-in-Charge at North
Bend, she has developed a unique relationship with substitute teachers, acting as staff liaison and
troubleshooter to assure a smooth flow each workday. Last year, she served for a time as acting
assistant principal, transforming discipline situations into learning and healing opportunities for
students. Her nominators say she as a “wonderful rapport” with parents, giving her home phone number to
all parents and encouraging them to use it whenever the need arises. Ms. Garafola began her professional
life has a successful businesswoman, but felt the “call” to teaching, returning to school and earning a
3.9 GPA in education; and then completed her masters with a similar 3.9 GPA all the while raising an
active family. Her principal, Steven Hardy, says Ms. Garafola’s classroom is “hallmarked by excitement
and enthusiasm for teaching and learning.” He talks about her “can do” attitude that is infectious with
her students. Mr. Hardy said Ms. Garafola is “an exemplary role model for her students, parents, and
colleagues” and displays pride in being a professional educator. Assistant Principal Gerri Pendill
mentions Ms. Garafola’s professional ability as an example to other teachers but says her “kindness and
cheerfulness” may be even more important to students and colleagues. One of her graduate professors at
Towson University, Dr. Ronald Thomas says his prize student is an “analytical and reflective thinker.”
Magnolia Elementary Assistant Principal Mark Etzel taught with Ms. Garafola when both were at Church
Creek Elementary. “Top-notch, always trustworthy, consistently professional, supremely dedicated,” is
the way he describes her. “Each pupil benefited from Kathy going above and beyond the call of duty –
looking back, now as a father of three children, I would be thrilled, even gratified, just to be lucky
enough to have one of my own children placed in her classroom,” Mr. Etzel said. North Bend Special
Educator Susan Melefksy said her colleague “touches the hearts” of her students “in a way like no
other,” adding, “Whenever students are in her presence, they instantly feel important.” Para-educator
Annette Kalaczynski has worked with Ms. Garafola on a daily basis for the past five years. “She is a
natural problem solver in the face of adversity – she fosters an inviting learning atmosphere that
engages all children all the time.” Martha McIntyre and her daughter Carly wrote a joint letter in
support of Ms. Garafola’s nomination as Teacher of the Year. Carly re-entered North Bend three years ago
in the third quarter of her second grade year, noting Ms. Garafola’s reaction upon learning she had a
new student so late in the year. “Her face lit up in excitement as if she had just been given a present
she had always wanted – she came right over to us and hugged my daughter,” she said. Carly listed words
like “enthusiastic,” “she listens,” “she understands,” “respect,” “patient,” “loves her job,” “keeps her
promises,” “fun and funny,” “fair,” “kind and cares” in describing her former teacher. “Ms. Garafola
made quite an impact on my daughter, who has decided she would like to be a teacher (and teach) the way
Ms. Garafola teaches.” Current fourth grader, Billy Jump, had Ms. Garafola as his teacher in the second
grade. His mother, Stacey Jump, described issues her son had with separation anxiety and that Ms.
Garafola volunteered to personally call Billy if she ever woke up sick and wasn’t able to come to
school. “One morning at 7:00 a.m. I heard the phone ring (Billy answered it and told me) it was Ms.
Garafola – ‘she called to tell me she can’t come to school today (and) not to worry, she picked out a
very friendly substitute for me’,” related Mrs. Jump. “”His teacher thought so much of him she actually
called to let him know she would be out.” Two of Mary Morris’ children had Ms. Garafola for a teacher.
“The children adore and respect her,” Mrs. Morris said. “As a parent, I could not ask for a better
teacher for my children.” Megan Garafola, a college junior, said her mother is a “model mother, friend,
and community member,” having experienced along with her younger sister being raised by a mother who
balanced gaining her teaching credentials and motherhood. “”I never realized how difficult this time
must have been for my mother – I can’t imagine completing all of my work with a 4.0 GPA with two little
girls at home,” she said. Ms. Garafola talks about her most memorable student, Essra, who came to her
class from Kuwait where she had endured the realities of war. Essra taught Ms. Garafola and her class
that year, as much as she learned from the teacher and class.
BRIAN J. GUNTER, Math, C. Milton Wright High School, 9 years in Harford County – It’s common for
math teachers to seek upper level students with whom they can explore complicated concepts and benefit
from the students’ self motivation. Brian Gunter goes the other direction. “This past year, after being
offered a teaching schedule with higher level math courses, Mr. Gunter approached the administration and
requested to work with students with special needs and students in need of remediation,” said C. Milton
Wright High Acting Principal Chris Battaglia. “Mr. Gunter models all the positive attributes of a master
teacher – his students always perform well.” Mr. Battaglia added that Mr. Gunter is a key member of the
freshman Mustang Transition program that helps ninth graders become assimilated into high school. A C.
Milton Wright High graduate himself and former high school and college athlete, Mr. Gunter coaches the
Mustang soccer team and the “game-playing” extends into his classroom. Fellow math teacher Beverly Dize
says he has “little contests” going all the time, from class rewards for students arriving on time ready
to work, to the sharing of “good news” by students at the start of the class to the applause of
classmates, to having students be able to choose a classmate and provide a “save” when they don’t know
the correct answer. “I have the privilege of teaching Mr. Gunter’s former students – they all love him,
they think he’s ‘cool’,” said Ms. Dize. “He is constantly offering words of encouragement to his
students, complimenting them for a job well done in and outside the classroom – his positive attitude is
contagious.” Another C. Milton Wright High math teacher, Andrea Wolfe, talks about Mr. Gunter’s
“contagious enthusiasm” which not only inspires students, but his colleagues as well. “It was Brian who
convinced our faculty to adopt the ‘Capturing Kids Hearts’ program; it was Brian who inspired our
faculty Relay for Life team to commit to raising $10,000 (for cancer research),” said Mrs. Wolfe. “He
praises students and insists on an atmosphere of respect, humor, and work ethic in the classroom.” This
year, Mr. Gunter volunteered to teach ninth grade math courses to assist struggling students. Still
another math colleague, Leslie Giambalvo says Mr. Gunter greets every student at his classroom door with
a handshake, a smile, and a verbal greeting. “The students matter to him – he is, without exception,
positive about the kids.” From the beginning of his career, Brian Gunter has gone above and beyond for
his students. Having begun as a Social Studies teacher, he realized the subject was not the best fit for
him, so he left teaching for a time to complete his certification in Math. “To this day, I’m impressed
that Mr. Gunter chose to incur the extra cost and take the extra time to become certified in a content
where he knew he could best teach the students of Harford County, said nine-year C. Milton Wright High
English teacher Brian Rhinehardt, who began his career the same year as Mr. Gunter and now teaches
struggling students on the same ninth grade team. “He often stays after school to tutor, and on
occasions, he has stayed after to play chess with one of our more shy and withdrawn students – he is the
perfect teacher to help motivate and instruct such a challenging population of students.” CMWHS Media
Specialist Alyssa King joked that “it’s like a party every day” in Mr. Gunter’s class – but the party is
all about learning. Working collaboratively with Special Educator Chad Richie, the two “high five”
students as the young people enter class, building excitement for the learning that is to follow. Mr.
Gunter often shows short clips from inspirational movies to motivate students. He also uses PowerPoint
presentations, LCD projectors, Cognitive Math Tutor on classroom computers – anything to reach his
students. Writing about his most memorable student, Mr. Gunter reveals his “human” side, noting the
young man he mentored in class and on the athletic field for four years has, after graduation, succumbed
to drug use and been arrested several times. “I feel I have let (him) down in some way – I wonder if
there were other things I could have done as a teacher and a coach to keep him on the right path,” Mr.
Gunter wrote.“Ultimately, I have learned that students have to choose to help themselves, but it doesn’t
stop me from wanting to improve each day.” Holder of a master’s degree in administration from the
University of Delaware, Mr. Gunter captained that university’s soccer team as an undergraduate. In
addition to boys soccer, he has also coached girls lacrosse at the school.
SHARALYN R. HEINLY, Math, North Harford Middle School, 14 years in Harford County – Math and fun
are not always considered synonymous – that is, unless you happen to be talking about Sharalyn Heinly’s
seventh grade math classes at North Harford Middle School. Students learn “mean, median, and mode” by
singing to the tune of “Three Blind Mice.” The “Quadratic Formula” is taught with the song “Jingle
Bells.” Hopscotch is used with a special needs student to “hop” through the steps of a lesson. Mrs.
Heinly has adopted the role of “Princess of Pylesville,” a pizza shop owner, she’s played baseball with
Cal Ripken, gone on secret missions, and performed other “whacky” stunts, all to gain and maintain the
interest of her students. Said one of her students, AnneMarie, “She adds spunk, creativity, and really
cool ways to help us remember hard concepts and help us understand this algebra.” Her nominator,
colleague James O’Leary, said students “feel comfortable making mistakes” in Mrs. Heinly’s classroom
because they know their self worth is not challenged and their successes are consistently applauded.
Sammi, another student, said, “Mrs. Heinly would NEVER make a student, or anyone, feel stupid; and Eric
added, “Mrs. Heinly has a way of making you feel smart.” She makes three to five phone calls a week to
various students’ homes and sends postcards bragging about their success. An accomplished sign language
teacher, she donates her time to groups where deafness is an issue. She is an active Sunday School
teacher, volunteers at summer camps, coordinated her church’s Neighbors in Need campaign, served at soup
kitchens, and sang at a nursing home, among many other charitable ventures. Mrs. Heinly regularly
exercises in North Harford Middle’s fitness lab, inspiring her students to do the same. Upon learning of
a colleague’s two-year-old child’s diabetes diagnosis she has committed to run in the 5K Walk for the
Cure for Juvenile Diabetes; and will take part in the 5K Race for the Cure of Breast Cancer. Mrs. Heinly
has her master’s and 30 credits beyond – all achieved with at least a 3.9 GPA. In addition to teaching
seventh grade math, she has taught preschool/kindergarten for deaf children, second and fifth grade, and
has been an adjunct faculty member of Harford Community College since 1990. Her principal Bruce Kovacs
called Mrs. Heinly “truly outstanding,” having become acquainted with her originally when he was a
student in one of her sign language classes. “She treats all students with a warm, professional demeanor
– her energy and animation makes math come alive, and students find themselves learning a subject that
many often fear,” Dr. Kovacs said. “The joy of teaching is evident is Mrs. Heinly’s work.” Her math
supervisor, Sarah Morris, said Mrs. Heinly is “empathetic to her students, is committed to student
success, and is well respected by her colleagues,” adding that she has served as a cooperating teacher
for student teachers and model teacher for newly hired HCPS middle school math instructors. Supervisor
of Staffing for the Harford County Public Schools, Margaret Goodson, knew ‘Squeak’ Heinly when Mrs.
Heinly taught the hearing impaired and then fifth graders at Emmorton Elementary during the time Mrs.
Goodson was principal there. “She was an excellent advocate not only for her (hearing impaired)
students, but for all students – making sure her students had the richest possible educational
experience,” Mrs. Goodson said. Keith Hodges has worked with Mrs. Heinly at the Camp Manatawny in the
summer, calling her an “invaluable part of our teaching staff,” going beyond expectations to act as
“camp Mom,” unofficial “counselor,” and a role-model for all. John Niblett, mentor teacher at North
Harford Middle, said Mrs. Heinly oversees a “miraculous and rare” feat by convincing students that what
they thought was the daunting, impenetrable, and mysterious subject of mathematics is really a joyful
experience, calling it the “Heinly Principle.” He said he often directs new teachers to Mrs. Heinly’s
class to see how it should be done, from the use of up-to-the-minute technology to the employing of
expert teaching techniques. “The joyful experience of mathematics learning that Mrs. Heinly creates for
her students inspires high levels of math performance at the same time building students’ confidence in
their learning abilities in all areas,” he said. Mr. O’Leary calls Mrs. Heinly “the best with whom I
have taught,” adding that “she fans the fires of the students who already burn with a love of math”
while taking the mystery out of the subject for the less math oriented. “She makes math sing, literally
and figuratively – I watch as students walk into her room with smiles on their faces, not because they
all love math, but because they love Mrs. Heinly.” Susan Brown, coordinator of intervention for the
school system and parent of a student in her class, says “teaching and learning is Mrs. Heinly’s mission
every day.” One of her students, Nicole Kropkowski, says “she never gives up on people (and) she makes
us laugh – not in a joking way – but in her lessons – I go into her room (knowing) the class is going to
be happy and fun.” Another student, Hannah Wise, says the songs Mrs. Heinly makes up to reinforce
lessons have made math make sense. “Mrs. Heinly always makes us feel smart and confident,” she said.
James Greene is an eighth grader at North Harford Middle who first met Mrs. Heinly as a struggling sixth
grade math student when she volunteered to tutor him, sharing her favorite M&M candies with him. “Soon,
I was gaining confidence in math – I was no longer afraid,” he said, adding he was fortunate to have
Mrs. Heinly as his seventh grade math teacher. “She made math fun, enjoyable, and exciting for the whole
class,” James said. “Every day, when we walked into the classroom, Mrs. Heinly’s smile cheered up the
class and lit up the classroom.” Mrs. Heinly’s most memorable student was ‘Vivian,’ a four-year-old
foster child who was visually impaired and profoundly deaf. “I worked with Vivian for three years,
teaching her language and academics as well as life skills (but) she taught me a lot,” said Mrs. Heinly.
“She taught me to always show compassion to others – it’s impossible to know what situations and life
struggles our students are facing.”
ANGELA S. JONES, Vocal Music/Chorus, North Harford Middle School, 10 in Harford County – Her
nominator, colleague Lisa Mullen, says Angie Jones “breathes, eats, and sleeps music,” teaching more
than 390 students a year and spreading her love of music through church and community work. “A ball of
energy, Angie amazes me; she not only inspires her students, she inspires me to be a better teacher,”
Mrs. Mullen said. Kara, one of her students, calls Mrs. Jones’ style of teaching “hip,” adding, I can
assure you, there is never a dull moment in chorus.” Desiree says just walking into Mrs. Jones class,
“you feel happy (because she is always happy and perky.” Another student, Leah, says, “She is an amazing
role model for kids – she teaches us self-confidence, self respect, and respect for others.” Rachel
adds, “She inspires me every day – in my mind, she is the do-it-all woman.” Her supervisor, Jim Boord,
says Mrs. Jones “has created a vocal music program that has high musicianship expectations – students
who complete the choral program at North Harford Middle School are literate musicians.” A student of
hers, Becca, says Mrs. Jones “does not just teach us songs, she teaches us the meaning behind the
lyrics.” Mrs. Jones’ choirs consistently earn “superior” ratings. She hosts North Harford Area Choral
Day when students in elementary, middle, and high school choral programs come together to make beautiful
music. All students compose original songs and perform in a recital. Mentor Teacher John Niblett says he
was “moved” by a recent visit to Mrs. Jones’ classroom where she used music to teach a powerful
character education lesson. One of her students, Heather, said Mrs. Jones made her feel “like part of
her musical family – she will do anything to help you – when I came here, I thought I was the worst
singer ever (but) she helped me know I can sing. She spends her planning, lunch, and after school time
preparing students for All State auditions, solo and ensemble, or tutors those who need a little extra
help. Another student, James, says, “She can make any student sound like a star and feel like a star –
she is the best teacher ever.” Mrs. Jones is the choir director of her church and teaches music to
Sunday school students, plays in the church’s Praise Band, and, each summer, provides music instruction
for Vacation Bible School. She works with church members to sing at nursing homes and soup kitchens. As
Student Service Organization (SSO) advisor for her school, she has helped students care about others,
involving students to visit nursing homes, create care packages, make jewelry, and perform other
services for the elderly and needy. Her choral students serve meals and entertain at a local senior
citizens center and collected non-perishable food items for ‘Harvest for the Hungry,’ as well as adopted
a soldier in Iraq whom they write to every week along with sending twice-a-month care packages. She has
been the North Harford Middle Social Committee Chair for nine years, sending remembrances to faculty
members who have suffered a loss in their family, as well as organizing staff social events, earning the
title of the “heart” of North Harford Middle. At the beginning of each school year, each student
receives a letter from Mrs. Jones describing herself and her hopes for the school year, while
encouraging students to write back and include a picture. She celebrates even small student
accomplishments by sending “good news” postcards to their parents who are invited to recitals. Mrs.
Jones created the Sara Catherine Tyrell Distinguished Choral Award, in honor of a student who died in a
car accident, orchestrating a tree-planting ceremony in the young person’s memory. “Sara was a wonderful
and talented young lady, an honor student, a dedicated athlete, a peer helper, an avid reader/writer, a
flutist, a dancer, and a choral member,” said her mother Margaret Tyrell, who had three other children
taught by Mrs. Jones. “Our biggest fear was that Sara would be forgotten, but, when Angie stands in
front of a packed auditorium after the Spring Concert (and presents the Sara Tyrell Award), she brings
our daughter to ‘life,’ an annual gift of love and remembrance (in which) she reminds us that Sara’s
life on earth was a miracle that changed the world and left it a better place.” Possessor of a master of
music education (4.0 GPA) from the Peabody Conservatory of Music at Johns Hopkins University, she was
also a magna cum laude undergraduate student. She is president-elect of the Maryland Choral Educators
Association and is the ten-year Music Department Chair at North Harford Middle. “Angie’s reputation as a
superior teacher has spread beyond Harford County,” said Maryland Music Educators Association Executive
Director Mary Ellen Cohn. “She is energetic and organized; she gets the job done, done right, and done
on time,” said Mrs. Cohn. One of Mrs. Jones’ students, Molly Shephard, is convinced there is more than
one Mrs. Jones, pointing to all she does as a teacher, choral director, and student advocate. Katrina
Schulz was a student of Mrs. Jones’ from 1997-1999, being named the only middle school student in the
county to be a member of the Maryland All-State Junior Chorus in 1998, an honor she attributes to the
“inspirational and talented” Mrs. Jones. Currently a fourth year pharmacy student at Rutgers University,
Ms. Schulz said she has still “never come across a teacher as dedicated and inspiring as Mrs. Jones.”
Aimee O’Neill’s two sons have experienced the uncanny talent and caring of Mrs. Jones as members of her
class and chorus. “Mrs. Jones has a sincere enthusiasm for music and learning which she shares with her
students in an apparently tireless manner,” Mrs. O’Neill said. Highly respected North Harford High
Choral Director Marty Banghart said Mrs. Jones has “a twinkle in her eye, a spring to her step, and a
melody in her heart,” adding her students follow her “as if she was the Pied Piper,” and noting, “Angie
has been sending me highly motivated and prepared vocal students for the past ten years.” Mrs. Jones
calls “Robert,” a deaf and mentally challenged student, as her most memorable. Her efforts resulted in
his playing ‘Yankee Doodle’ without missing a note on an acoustic guitar at the class recital in front
of parents, students, and teachers; getting a standing ovation when he was finished; and flashing a
“huge smile that I will never forget.” Mrs. Jones added, “I desire that, at the end of the day, all my
students’ lives are enriched because of the experiences in my classroom; I know they have certainly
LISA L. KELLER, Fourth Grade, Fountain Green Elementary School, 5 years in Harford County – In
her second year of teaching, Benjamin S. entered Lisa Keller’s third grade class full of anger and
defiance, his reputation as a belligerent bully well earned. On the first day of school, without a word,
he pushed his way past her where she was greeting students. Walking around the room, Mrs. Keller
complimented Benjamin on the shirt he was wearing, not the reaction he expected from his entrance.
“Behind that gruff exterior was a little boy who desperately wanted and needed to be liked by someone,”
she said, noting that, slowly he learned to control his temper. “I’ll never forget the first time he
smiled (or) the first time he gave me a quick hug rushing out the door during dismissal.” Benjamin is
now 22-years old and attempting to finish college. “Benjamin once told me that he learned something
during his third grade year – that he was someone special and he was in control of his life’s choices –
he has often thanked me for just ‘liking’ him,” said Mrs. Keller. “I learned something that year – when
students know that you really do care, their learning potential is unlimited.” The scenario is typical
of Mrs. Keller’s years in the classroom where her principal, Angela Morton, says she “maintains a
classroom environment in which mutual respect is modeled and a positive ‘can-do’ attitude toward
learning is embraced.” Her former principal at Mountain Christian School, Nadine Wellington, says Mrs.
Keller “epitomizes the standards of excellence we desire in all educators (and) her commitment of time,
energy, and enthusiasm is exceptional.” Peggy Konopka, the Instructional Facilitator at Fountain Green
Elementary, talks about a data binder Mrs. Keller has created in which she tracks the progress of each
of her students, adding that she is a “dedicated and nurturing teacher (who) strives to know her
students personally as well as academically.” Third grade teacher and special educator at Fountain
Green, Amy Glover calls Mrs. Keller “a gifted teacher, especially in writing,” adding that her
management skills are exceptional. Wendy Dail, who is Fountain Green’s Gifted and Talented teacher,
credits the work ethic of Mrs. Keller and her positive attitude. “Her optimistic attitude keeps the
classroom upbeat and personable,” she said. “Mrs. Keller’s students are aware that she truly cares about
each and every one of them.” Marci Ziemski said her son Ian has become an enthusiastic reader in Mrs.
Keller’s class. “When a teacher is able to have such a profound affect and gain such positive,
measurable outcomes in even one student is considered a great accomplishment,” Mrs. Ziemski said.
“However, when the same is true about every student in her class, it would be nearly impossible to be
explained by any other reason than through the efforts of a most effective teacher.” Michael Nolte is in
Mrs. Keller’s class this year and calls her “the best teacher I have ever had” noting how his teacher
“has helped me improve my grades by doing funny poems and silly songs that stick in your brain –
sometimes I even come home at night singing them.” Steven Gray, another of her current students, talks
about the “Mrs. Keller virus” he and his classmates have caught this year. Still another current
student, McKenzie O’Connor, said she has learned a lot about being organized and staying on top of her
studies, saying that being in Mrs. Keller’s class is like “having a mom in school – she gives love and
hugs when I need them (and) makes sure I am doing the right things in my schoolwork.” She said Mrs.
Keller makes her know she is a “special student” and learning is fun because all students take part.
Ethan Bloomfield is another student in Mrs. Keller’s class this year who says his teacher makes him
smile. “She is like the sun coming up on a droopy, rainy day, drying up the sadness with its sunny
warmth.” Ethan says his weakness as a student is writing, but Mrs. Keller has made the difference for
him. Nominated by Ethan’s mother, Jillian Bloomfield, Mrs. Keller is said to be “23 teachers in one”
with her ability to individualize instruction. The nomination points to Mrs. Keller’s “natural
enthusiasm” and “passion and energy” along with her organization as a perfect combination for success.
The nomination says she has “genuine faith” in each child’s capacity to learn, helping students to
believe in themselves. Fountain Green Elementary was named a Maryland Center for Character Education,
thanks, in part, to Mrs. Keller’s having been an active participant in that area. A former mentor
teacher at Harford Community College and in Baltimore County, she continues assisting her colleagues.
She has a master’s with honors; and, as a first year teacher was nominated for the Most Promising
Teacher award. Over the next 17 years teaching in public and private school, she has been nominated for
‘Who’s Who Among American Teachers,’ and for the ‘Excellence in Education’ award while in Baltimore
REBEKAH R. MC CORD, English, Joppatowne High School, 5 years in Harford County – Nominated by one
of her students, Victoria Butt, Rebekah McCord is called an “inspiration to all those around her,”
believing in students even when they don’t believe in themselves. As a freshman English teacher, Mrs.
McCord helps ease the transition into high school, especially for students struggling academically and
socially. Using “pop culture” to help relate what she’s teaching to students, she knows how to reach
reluctant students by sparking their interest. Sponsor of both the Bible Club and Forensics team, Mrs.
McCord talks about ‘Victoria,’ her most memorable student who combines the two traits her teacher
admires most – dedication and humility. “She is one of the busiest high school students I’ve ever
observed, and yet she has learned the value of honoring each commitment that she accepts – not only to
her work, but to the people she works with and for,” Mrs. McCord said. “It is this demonstration of
character that inspires me to be a better teacher.” For her part, Victoria, now a senior, says Mrs.
McCord has been the most influential teacher she has ever had. Having been a member of Mrs. McCord’s
honors freshman English class (a class she calls tough but beneficial), she says her all-time favorite
teacher “teaches through her lifestyle,” adding, “The lessons she taught me have been invaluable and
character shaping – I don’t know if I would be the same person I am today without Mrs. McCord in my
life.” Jane Russell, Joppatowne High School Psychologist, said Mrs. McCord treats all students, even the
most challenging ones, with dignity and respect. “Of the many professionals with whom I have worked in
my 20 years as a school psychologist, there are few who match the caliber and dedication of Rebekah
McCord,” Mrs. Russell said. “Students in crisis have felt comfortable seeking her out.” Joppatowne High
Principal Macon Tucker calls Mrs. McCord a “cornerstone” of the school. “Mrs. McCord is a model
professional for all our teachers and is committed in her work with students and colleagues,” Mr. Tucker
said. Andrew Pesci is the school’s Strategic Reading Coach and has witnessed firsthand “how truly
amazing Rebekah is in her approach to teaching as well as in her interaction with each and every
student.” Mr. Pesci said Mrs. McCord arms her students with a variety of reading strategies enabling
them to grow from passive readers to those who are proficient at the most important academic skill.
“Since Rebekah has an uncanny ability when it comes to teaching, she is extremely confident and always
opens her door to any teacher as well as the State Superintendent of Schools Nancy Grasmick,” Mr. Pesci
said. Douglas Bowman recently returned to teaching after 20 years in business, and was befriended by
Mrs. McCord. “As I stood staring at this space, Ms. McCord entered, introduced herself, and spent an
hour of her time orienting me to the school,” he said. “It is this generosity with her time that
typifies Ms. McCord’s dedication to teaching – she is a tireless planner and a supportive co-worker.”
Having started a poetry club in addition to her other responsibilities, Mrs. McCord “exemplifies a
caring teacher – her supportive manner, her empathetic nature, and her dedication to her students’
education are at the heart of what makes her worthy of the Teacher of the Year,” Mr. Bowman said. “In a
profession where cynicism is often needed to cope with the challenges of the job, Rebekah is unwavering
in communicating how much she cares about her students and their learning.” Mrs. McCord is a consistent
supporter of all JHS extra-curricular activities, from selling tickets at football games to her
attendance at school dramatic productions, concerts, and other events. Mrs. McCord is currently working
on her master’s program in reading at Johns Hopkins University.
CHRISTINE C. ROLAND, Biology/Forensic Science, Edgewood High School, 5 years in Harford County –
Nominated by her fellow Biology teacher Amy Woolf, Christine Roland is a native of Switzerland where she
prepared in the fields of advertising and public relations. Fluent in three languages, she worked for a
time as a SCIBA instructor in Egypt and Honduras. After moving to the United States, she switched her
focus to Biology and earned her BS degree at Towson University, combining all of her life experiences to
become the “Science Diva” of Edgewood High School, as the sign reads on her classroom door. Mark Herzog,
HCPS Assistant Supervisor of Science, calls Mrs. Roland “one of the best pure teachers I have ever
watched in action,” adding “there is something attractive, in the best sense of that word, that draws
the learner to the teacher and ultimately makes the learner wish to be like the teacher.” In the
relatively short five years she has been at Edgewood High, she has secured a Chesapeake Bay Trust to
build a classroom pond, has won two curriculum awards, has been involved in Marine Science curriculum
writing, and was the designer and creator of a “Dancing Nucleotides” DVD last year. The most well known
of her innovations is the creation of the Forensic Science course. Both Mr. Herzog and her principal,
Joe Schmitz, say they sometimes almost dread calls from the innovative teacher. “I just know she is
going to ask me something that will involve changing the bell schedule, or adding to the master
schedule, or releasing kids from other classes for a period, or telling teachers they can’t park where
they’d like for a week, or otherwise disrupting a creature of routine,” said Mr. Schmitz. “But, I have
learned not to say no to her, because I can always have confidence that when she approaches with one of
her grand and wild schemes that it is going to provide a special and enjoyable learning experience for
her students, and sometimes for the rest of us in the building, as well.” EHS English Department Chair
Beth Hoffman says she is not a jealous person by nature, but truly envies Mrs. Roland. “She exemplifies
everything in a teacher that others in the profession aspire to be, and she does it with a grace and
style each and every day that compounds my envy,” said Ms. Hoffman. Even that ‘Science Diva’ sign is
misleading, said Ms. Hoffman, since Mrs. Roland possesses none of the snobbish attributes of true divas,
but “has a deeply held belief that every student, no matter their background or personal beliefs, can
excel in school, life, and most importantly, in science.” Mrs. Roland brought the BioBus to Edgewood
High so students could “live” Biology. Heidi Marcotte’s daughter, Aliah, is a student in Mrs. Roland’s
class. “She looks up to Mrs. Roland because of the great example she sets and is always excited to go to
her class,” Mrs. Marcotte said. “She truly brings the art of science to life – she motivates the
students in such a way that they are able to achieve more than they think they are actually capable of.”
Marie Koros Fields said her daughter, as a result of being in Mrs. Roland’s class, now wants to go to
college and major in biology. Amanda Lucker is a student in Mrs. Roland’s class this year, after her
brother had been there two years before. “There wasn’t one day that my brother and now I haven’t walked
out of her class without a smile,” Amanda said. “You can see her passion and love for biology – she has
animals from little fish to snakes; (and) she even put a pond in the back of her room with turtles and
pond fish.” Even more important to Amanda is Mrs. Roland’s “wonderful personality (and) unique way of
teaching – she’s not just a teacher to me – she’s more like a friend (because) she cares so much for her
students.” Ana Bunger said she entered Biology last year expecting “the most boring class in the world”
but, now, “my life has never been the same since – without her, I wouldn’t be taking AP Biology next
year, or majoring in Biology in college (and) I would not be so passionate about Biology.” Adam Sitzes
is another former student of Mrs. Roland’s, having been in her Honors Biology and Forensic Science
classes. Last year, he was Mrs. Roland’s student aide. “During this year, I noticed how much Mrs. Roland
cared for each of her students – she had a connection with each one of them and knew each of their study
habits,” he said. Mrs. Woolf said Mrs. Roland “will be the teacher who students talk about at their
20-year class reunion – her students know they are expected to put forth efforts that match their
teacher’s effort to fulfill the unspoken contract that Christine has with them.” Mrs. Woolf said her
colleague is a “role model for professional development,” having lobbied to get common planning time for
Biology teachers and taking the lead for the professional learning community that focuses on raising
Biology High School Assessment scores. Julie Wolf, senior lecturer in the Department of Biological
Sciences at UMBC, said Mrs. Roland’s “Dancing Nucleotide” DVD, with students playing different roles
identified by colored t-shirts, with an epic poem written and narrated by one of her students, was
magnificent. “I have met some creative and dedicated teachers in my dozen years of teaching professional
development biology courses, but Mrs. Roland stands out as a real treasure,” Ms. Wolf said. Mrs. Roland
said ‘Lizzie’ Byer is her most memorable student, providing an example of a student who was
self-described “not smart enough” and science not really being her thing; who, now, after success in
three upper level science courses is a mentor tutor for younger Biology students. “Lizzie has proven
beyond any doubt that there is no such thing as an ‘honor student’ or ‘dumb student,’ that there are no
accurate labels,” Mrs. Roland said.
ANDREA F. YEAGER, Kindergarten, Abingdon Elementary School, 13 years in Harford County – Mary is
the ‘shining star’ that stands out among the more than 450 students Andrea Yeager has taught in the 13
years she has been a kindergarten teacher. Mary was the first autistic child Mrs. Yeager had taught.
From Mary, Mrs. Yeager learned routines are necessary and flexibility is essential. “Mary was the reason
I chose to earn my master’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education,” Mrs. Yeager said. Nominated by
her principal, Kathleen Burr, Mrs. Yeager is called a “truly inspiring teacher.” Edgewood High School
senior Kyle Munley was a kindergarten student of Mrs. Yeager’s 13 years ago when she was Miss Baran and
in her first year of teaching. “She made everything we did so much fun we almost didn’t realize it was
work,” Kyle remembers. “Mrs. Yeager had a profound effect on my life – the encouragement that Mrs.
Yeager gave me started me reading (and) I was reading at the fifth grade level by the time I started
first grade.” Casandra Struve’s two daughters had Mrs. Yeager as their kindergarten teacher. Morgan is
now a 17-year-old junior at C. Milton Wright and Olivia is a 13-year-old eighth grader at Southampton
Middle School. “She had such a strong influence on both of my children and their early first impression
of school and a teacher’s role in their lives in such a positive way,” Mrs. Struve said, noting
kindergarten was the first time her daughters had been separated from her. “She helped this be such a
positive transition time for my children which I believe helped build a strong foundation and had a
positive impact on their self-esteem and outlook on school.” Ginny Smith, the school system’s
Coordinator of Early Childhood Education, said Mrs. Yeager has been instrumental in guiding the vision
and curriculum of the early childhood program for the school system. “She is a master kindergarten
teacher who parents should appreciate as their child’s first exposure to education,” Mrs. Smith said.
“She sets her expectations high; and her students respond accordingly.” Former HCPS Early Childhood
Education Supervisor Ginger Eckroade said Mrs. Yeager has a “sincere concern and love for young children
regardless of the way they come to her; and teaching that is intentionally designed so that every child
can experience success.” Anne Heidenreich is the former Early Childhood Teacher Specialist in the
county. In her visits to Mrs. Yeager’s classroom, she found a teacher who was “very motivating with the
students, always seeking to challenge them and complimenting them when each child participated whether
his or her answer was right or wrong.” Retired Abingdon kindergarten teacher Diana Wehage was there when
Miss Baran (Mrs. Yeager) arrived. “Andrea had and continues to exhibit a very positive attitude about
all aspects of school life, due to her willingness to join in with all academic and social interactions,
her eagerness to learn, and her deep interest in children and early childhood education,” Mrs. Wehage
said. “All of Andrea Yeager’s exuberance has continued to thrive as she has made kindergarten as the
name implies, ‘a very special garden for ALL children.” Current student Nia Hill said Mrs. Yeager is
“the beautifulist teacher and she never yells at us – I love her.” Young Abingdon Elementary teacher
Rebecca Bagley had Mrs. Yeager as a supervising teacher while student teaching. “Without Andrea’s
mentoring, I feel I could have been a ‘good’ teacher – (however) after working with her, I feel I truly
have the potential to be a ‘great’ teacher,” she said. “She taught me how to be patient, understanding,
and compassionate through her own modeling of teaching.” Abingdon Elementary kindergarten colleague
Danielle Bowers said Mrs. Yeager has two qualities that stand out – her willingness to share a moment
and her unconditional love of her students. “She makes each and every child hers and she whole-heartedly
believes in them,” said Mrs. Bowers. “Andrea encourages the children to take risks and is always there
to pick up the pieces.” Third year Abingdon kindergarten teacher, Laurie Machovec, says she is one lucky
teacher. “I teach right across the hall from a colleague with a bag of tricks that is filled to the
brim,” she said. “Andrea has helped me adjust to teaching – she has never once turned me away; she is my
mentor (and) the type of teacher that I strive to become.” Over her 13 years as kindergarten teacher,
Mrs. Yeager has been called on to work with both disabled and extremely gifted children in her classroom
because of her ability to build self-esteem and confidence in all her students. “It is amazing how
children who cannot separate from their parents or cannot complete an activity without adult assistance
in September are fully performing many self help activities with ease within a few weeks under Andrea’s
care,” said Mrs. Burr. “The children thrive under her care and take pride in their accomplishments.”
Mrs. Yeager has supervised six student teachers and mentored three first year teachers at Abingdon
Elementary. A director of her church’s Vacation Bible School, she is also active in a number of other
church functions. She has earned 30 credits beyond her master’s degree.
CURRENT STATUS: VIRTUAL LEARNING
UPDATE: APRIL 13, 2021
The following message will be sent at 5:00 p.m. tonight to students and staff utilizing Verizon hotspots issued by HCPS. The message will be sent via phone, email, and text in our mass communication system.
Verizon has issued a recall in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission for the Verizon Ellipsis Jetpack mobile hotspot device that you have been using for virtual learning. Over the last several weeks, Verizon was made aware that the lithium-ion battery in the hotspots can overheat, posing a fire and burn hazard.
We will be working with Verizon as quickly and efficiently as possible to exchange all Ellipsis Jetpack devices that were issued. The replacement device will be an Orbic Speed mobile hotspot and will be replaced free of charge.
If your device is currently turned off, please turn it on so that the Ellipsis Jetpack can receive two (2) over-the-air, automatic software updates that will (a) enable the device’s identifying number to be viewed on its scrolling screen to help facilitate its exchange and (b) prevent the device from charging while the device is plugged in and powered on. You will know the software update has occurred when you see the device’s identifying number scrolling across its screen. When not in use, the device should be turned off, unplugged from its power source, and securely stored until you receive your replacement device and packaging to return the Ellipsis Jetpack safely.
At this time, HCPS has been informed that the replacement devices will not arrive for at least 4 weeks. You will receive a notification for the replacement process. Please be sure to collect all materials, including chargers, etc. from your original device and return them to the building when you return your laptop at the end of the school year.
As a reminder, and to help promote the safe operation of all devices, please follow these updated best practices:
If you have any questions or concerns about the technology issued to you, please contact email@example.com.
UPDATE: APRIL 8, 2021
The following message will be sent at 5:00 p.m. tonight to all contacts via phone, email, and text in our mass communication system.
As we continue with the school boundary review process, the Advisory Team for balancing enrollment in Harford County schools is inviting you to a Community Education Forum on Wednesday, April 14, 2021 from 5:00pm – 8:00pm. During this meeting, the team will present potential elementary school boundary adjustments. This is an initial look at the most recent scenarios being reviewed by the Advisory Team. During the live event, participants will be able to ask questions in the chat and encouraged to take part in live polls to capture public opinion. For one week following the meeting, an exit survey will be also available on our website to contribute feedback on the boundary adjustments being discussed. The Advisory Team will use the information gathered during this event and from the survey to continue to revise and refine the proposed boundary adjustments. Use the link at the time of the event to join the meeting.
Join the Live Event Here - April 14, 2021 from 5:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Please visit the HCPS Balancing Enrollment website for more information including maps of the initial draft boundary adjustment scenarios, an interactive web map, the meeting access link, and a detailed agenda by region. You can also listen in on the latest Parent Academy Real Talk for more information about the process.
If you are unable to attend the live event, a recording of the presentation will also be available on our website.
We look forward to going through this process with you.
UPDATE: APRIL 7, 2021
The following message was sent at 12:00 p.m. to all contacts via phone, email and text in our mass communication system.
Enrollment in the HCPS Blended Virtual Learning program for the 2021-2022 school year has officially begun. Applications are now being accepted and can be found on www.hcps.org. Also available on www.hcps.org are a recording of the parent/guardian informational session and a parent/guardian question and answer document.
If you or your family have seen benefits in virtual learning and would like to continue next year, please be sure to register!
Virtual Program from Home (eLearning) Elementary School Application
Virtual Program from Home (eLearning) Middle School Application
Virtual Program from Home (eLearning) High School Application
UPDATE: APRIL 6, 2021
BOARD OF EDUCATION OF HARFORD COUNTY
NOTICE OF PUBLIC COMMENT PARTICIPATION
BUSINESS MEETING – APRIL 12, 2021 – 6:30PM
The Board of Education of Harford County Business Meeting will be held on April 12, 2021 at 6:30PM with only Board Members, staff, and presenters in attendance virtually. The meeting will be streamed live and archived for later viewing on the HCPS Website.
Public Comment Participation Call-In Process
Community members who wish to provide comments during the Public Comments segment of the Business meeting are required to register by completing this form Public Comment Registration Form, https://www.hcps.org/boe/publiccommentrequest.aspx
Registrations must be received by 9:00AM on Monday, April 12, 2021. All fields on the registration form must be completed.
First and Last name
1. Registered speakers will receive an email from HCPS with a Call-in Phone # and a Conference ID #.
2. Registered speakers are required to call-in and enter the conference ID# at 6:30PM on Monday, April 12, 2021.
3. Important: If you are unable to take your phone off mute, you may need to dial *6.
4. All speakers, regardless of affiliation, will receive 3-minutes per speaker. Speakers may be interrupted and be given notice when they have 30 seconds left. When speakers have reached their 3-minute mark, callers will be removed from the meeting.
5. The Board has allotted two-hours for the Public Comments segment of the Business meeting.
6. If you are admitted from the virtual lobby to the meeting within the two-hour time constraint, you will be placed on hold and greeted by an HCPS staff member when it is time to begin your public comment. Expected hold time may vary based on number of registered speakers. The maximum wait time in the lobby is 30 minutes; should you be disconnected please call back.
7. Registration forms are limited to one (1) per person.
8. In accordance with Board policy, if the number of speakers impede the ability of the Board to complete scheduled business, the Board reserves the right to reduce the amount of time allotted per speaker, or overall time allotted for public comment.
9. The Board expects that all comments will be submitted with the decorum and respect appropriate to the conduct of public business.
10. Topics such as personnel matters, pending appeals, specific student disciplinary matters or which constitute commercial solicitations are not permitted.
11. Disparaging comments, personal attacks, and inflammatory remarks about specific schools or personnel are not permitted. Speakers who engage in these comments will be reminded of the rules and the Board reserves the right to remove the speaker from the call.
12. All public comments submitted will be part of the records maintained by the Board office.
Speakers are reminded that public comments are considered public information and, as such, are subject to the Maryland Public Information Act.
UPDATE: APRIL 1, 2021
The following message is being sent at 11:45 a.m. to all contacts with an email in our mass communication system.
Click here for a special message from Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Sean Bulson, and Health Officer of Harford County, Dr. David Bishai. We wish you all a safe, happy, and healthy spring break!
UPDATE: MARCH 31, 2021
The following message was sent at 10:00 a.m. to all contacts with an email in our mass communication system.
In May 2020, former Student Member of the Board of Education (SMOB) of Harford County, Christian Walker, and incoming SMOB, Phoebe Bailey-Probst, approached the Superintendent of Schools Sean Bulson, Ed. D. to suggest conducting a survey to learn about student perceptions of racism, implicit bias, and other forms of discrimination within Harford County Public Schools (HCPS).
Dr. Bulson encouraged Mr. Walker and Ms. Bailey to work with Mr. Yakoubou Ousmanou, manager of Research and Program Evaluation, and Dr. Paula Stanton, supervisor of Equity and Cultural Proficiency, to develop and administer the HCPS Survey on Racism, Implicit Bias and Other Forms of Discrimination. Dr. Bulson and his senior leadership team encouraged the administration of this survey and provided all the resources and support needed to successfully launch the survey; and pledged to use the findings of the survey to help address the issues of systemic racism, implicit bias, and other forms of discrimination in HCPS.
We are pleased to provide you with a direct link to this research report that presents key findings and recommendations from an analysis of the survey data. We ask that you take a moment to review the report. It is a valuable resource that HCPS leadership will use in conversations and planning as we move forward. Thank you to Mr. Walker and Ms. Bailey-Probst for their leadership in this endeavor!
UPDATE: MARCH 30, 2021
The following message will be sent to all contacts via phone, email, and text at 5:30 p.m.
All HCPS students, in-person and virtual learning, will be dismissed 3 hours early on Thursday, April 1, 2021. Schools will remain closed to students, with no virtual learning through Tuesday, April 6. We look forward to welcoming students back to in-person and virtual learning on Wednesday, April 7, 2021. Please note, half-day PreK will NOT meet on early dismissal dates.
HCPS offices will also dismiss 3 hours early on Thursday, April 1 and remain closed to visitors through Tuesday, April 6. The closure of offices on April 6 will allow all staff to attend professional development.
UPDATE: MARCH 30, 2021
The following message was sent to all contacts with an email in our mass communication system at 10:00 a.m.
As we continue with the school boundary review process, the Advisory Team for balancing enrollment in Harford County schools is inviting you to a Community Education Forum on Wednesday, April 14, 2021 from 5:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. During this meeting, the team will present potential elementary school boundary adjustments. This is an initial look at the most recent scenarios being reviewed by the Advisory Team. During the live event, participants will be able to ask questions in the chat and encouraged to take part in live polls to capture public opinion. If you are unable to attend the live event, a recording of the presentation will be available on our website at www.hcps.org/community/balancingenrollment/. For one week following the meeting, an exit survey will be also available on our website to contribute feedback on the boundary adjustments being discussed. The Advisory Team will use the information gathered during this event and from the survey to continue to revise and refine the proposed boundary adjustments. For more information, please visit the Balancing Enrollment page at www.hcps.org/community/balancingenrollment/. We look forward to going through this process with you.
Additional information, including a link to the event, will be sent next week.
UPDATE: MARCH 30, 2021
The following message was sent to all contacts via phone, email, and text Monday, March 29, 2021 at 5:00 p.m.
As we approach the first day of competition on April 7, we want to ensure our community is aware of mitigation strategies that will be in place for all athletics. For all athletic events, spectators will be limited to TWO family members per athlete. Face masks and social distancing are required. The student body will not be able to attend, and we will not accept staff IDs for entry to any athletic event. Thank you in advance for your understanding and cooperation as HCPS staff work to ensure spectators follow these steps and we can continue to welcome limited spectators at each athletic event.
UPDATE: MARCH 25, 2021
The following message will be sent to the John Archer School community via phone, email, and text at 5:00 p.m.
HCPS Leadership and a special Graduation Task Force have been working diligently to establish a plan to hold in-person graduation ceremonies. It has been a challenge due to changes to venue and gathering restrictions, in addition to the need to make plans with venues well enough in advance to finalize contracts and details. We are pleased to officially announce that Future Links graduation ceremony will be on Friday, June 4 at 10:00 a.m. and John Archer graduates will celebrate on Friday, June 4 at 1:00 p.m. Both ceremonies will be held in the Amoss Center at Harford Technical High School. We anticipate our graduates will be able to celebrate this milestone with their classmates as well as their invited guests. Please note, mitigation strategies like social distancing in seating arrangements, mask wearing, and a health check, will be required. We look forward to celebrating Future Links and John Archer graduates on June 4 in the Amoss Center at Harford Technical High School!
UPDATE: MARCH 24, 2021
The following message will be sent to all HCPS contacts in our mass communication system via phone, email, and text at 5:00 p.m.
HCPS Blended Virtual Learning in the 21-22SY: Info Session
This is an important message for families who would like to enroll in blended virtual learning for the 2021-2022 school year. Parents, guardians, and students, are invited to join Principal DeLeva, Elementary Assistant Principal Farver, Secondary Assistant Principal Lovelace, and Coordinator of eLearning Rebecca Pensero, on March 30, 2021 from 6:00-7:00 p.m. for more information about enrolling in blended virtual learning in the 2021-22 school year!
The information session will be made available through a Live Microsoft Teams link. We ecourage you to watch a special video invitation from Principal DeLeva. If you or your family have seen benefits in virtual learning and would like to continue next year, this meeting is for you! Be sure to tune in to ensure you have all the information about what enrolling in a Blended Virtual program next year will entail, what instruction will look like, and to know all the deadlines and requirements so you don’t miss your chance to enroll.
UPDATE: MARCH 23, 2021
The following message will be personalized with the commencement ceremony date and time, and sent to each high school community at 5:00 p.m. via phone, email, and text. The commencement calendar has also been updated on hcps.org, "About Us-Calendars."
HCPS Leadership and a special Graduation Task Force have been working diligently to establish a plan to hold in-person graduation for the graduating class of 2021. It has been a challenge due to changes to venue and gathering restrictions, in addition to the need to make plans with venues well enough in advance to finalize contracts and details.
We are pleased to officially announce that we have reached an agreement with Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen. The venue holds approximately 1600 seats and what the stadium calls “pod” seating. In this venue, with these seating options, we anticipate our graduates will be able to celebrate this milestone with their classmates as well as their invited guests. Please note, mitigation strategies like social distancing through “pod” seating, mask wearing, and a health check, will be required.
This is an outside venue. If you receive our communications emails, the full schedule, including “Rain” dates will be attached. The schedule has also been posted on hcps.org, "About Us-Calendars." In addition to “rain” dates at Ripken Stadium, we are discussing additional “rain” dates with Harford Community College should we need to utilize the APGFCU Arena for graduations. If that is needed, graduation dates would be during the week of June 1 and adjustments would need to be made for the size and mitigation strategies at the Arena. We look forward to celebrating HCPS 2021 high school graduates at Ripken Stadium!
UPDATE: MARCH 22, 2021
The following message will be sent to all families at 5:00 p.m. via email. An abbreviated message will be sent via phone.
Elementary schools successfully transitioned to 2 days in-person learning per week on March 1, 2021 and secondary schools successfully welcomed students back to in-person learning on March 15, 2021. Consequently, we will move forward with our plan to welcome HCPS elementary school students into schools 4 days per week on March 29, 2021 and secondary schools (middle and high) will welcome students back to in-person learning 4 days per week on April 7, 2021. All students will remain at home for asynchronous learning on Fridays for the remainder of the school year.
We have seen students and staff with positive COVID-19 test results and are ensuring isolation and quarantine procedures are followed in all our buildings. We are also following all mitigation strategies outlined in our Continuity of Learning plan and ask for your continued support and understanding if HCPS staff contact you to discuss these mitigation strategies for your child or children.
The Continuity of Learning plan is on our website. In addition to CDC guidance, HCPS has established multiple mitigation strategies like mask wearing, social distancing when and where possible, plexiglass, staying home when sick, and sanitization, to ensure precautions are in place. As a reminder, HCPS nurses can administer with parent/guardian permission, rapid antigen testing on site when a student begins to show COVID-like symptoms while at school. This strategy is in place as another layer to keep our schools open!
For more on keeping schools open, you can view a video (also sent in a previous message) with HCPS Risk Manager, Katie Ridgway, and HCPS Nurse Coordinator, Mary Nasuta who sit down to discuss all of our mitigation strategies in more detail.
For families and students who wish to remain virtual, that option is available through the end of the 2020-2021 school year in all grade levels. Elementary students who wish to remain asynchronous for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year, may do so. HCPS is in the planning stages of implementing a blended virtual program that can accommodate students in grades K-12 for the 2021-2022 school year. Interested students will need to apply to the blended virtual program (eLearning). If accepted into the program students will be enrolled in the blended virtual program (eLearning) rather than their home school. More information is available in the updated Continuity of Learning linked above and additional details about the program will be discussed at a Live Teams information session on March 30, 2021 from 6:00-7:00 p.m. This information session will provide an opportunity to meet principal, Rob DeLeva, Elementary Assistant Principal, Beth Farver, Secondary Assistant Principal, Zachary Lovelace, and Coordinator of eLearning, Rebecca Pensero. A brief presentation about the blended virtual program and enrollment deadlines will be provided followed by a time for Q&A. Click here for a special invitation from Principal DeLeva.
UPDATE: MARCH 16, 2021
BUSINESS MEETING – MARCH 22, 2021 – 6:30PM
The Board of Education of Harford County Business Meeting will be held on March 22, 2021 at 6:30PM with only Board Members, staff, and presenters in attendance virtually. The meeting will be streamed live and archived for later viewing on the HCPS Website.
Registrations must be received by 9:00AM on Monday, March 22, 2021. All fields on the registration form must be completed.
2. Registered speakers are required to call-in and enter the conference ID# at 6:30PM on Monday, March 22, 2021.
UPDATE: MARCH 12, 2021
A message from HCPS Superintendent Dr. Bulson
In January 2021, HCPS conducted virtual focus groups about COVID-19 and the 2020-21 school year with the goal of understanding what went well with district operations during the pandemic, lessons learned, and priorities for planning for a return to in-person learning. The full COVID-19 focus group report can be accessed here. I encourage you to find time to read and review the key findings and recommendations included in the report.
The following research questions guided the analysis of the focus group information and data:
Parents and guardians with questions regarding the report can reach out to Yakoubou Ousmanou, Manager of Research and Program Evaluation (North Star), via the following email address: NorthStarResearch@hcps.org.
Sean Bulson, Ed. D.
Superintendent of Schools
4/13/2021 12:32:00 PM