Two Calvert educators named as Post Finalists

Calvert County Public Schools (CCPS) proudly announces the district’s finalists for the Washington Post Teacher of the Year and Principal of the Year Awards. Kristen Ratcliff of Calvert High is the CCPS finalist for Teacher of the Year, and James Kurtz of Windy Hill Middle is the finalist for Principal of the Year.

Dr. Daniel D. Curry, Superintendent, said, “These fine educators represent our best. We appreciate the recognition from the Washington Post.”

The Washington Post Teacher of the Year Award, formerly known as the Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Award, recognizes teachers who exemplify excellence in their profession. The Washington Post Principal of the Year Award, formerly called the Distinguished Educational Leadership Award, seeks to recognize those principals who go beyond the day-to-day demands of their position to create an exceptional educational environment. School systems in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia, including D.C. public charters and private schools, selected nominees in the two categories. Each winner receives a trophy and $7,500.

The winner of the 2018 Teacher of the Year award is Daniel Reichard, fifth-grade teacher at Kate Waller Barrett Elementary School in Stafford County, and the Principal of the Year is Paul Pack, principal of Liberty Elementary School in Loudoun County.

After graduating from the University of Maryland, Ms. Ratcliff began teaching in Prince George’s County in 2003. Four years later, she transferred to Calvert County Public Schools and currently teaches art and photography at Calvert High School. She serves on numerous committees, working on tasks that fulfill the vision and mission of the visual and performing arts in Calvert County.  Jessica Valadie, Supervisor of Fine Arts, stated, “While art is the medium she uses to instruct students, the skills and knowledge gained by students reach far beyond a set of skills and knowledge. When leaving her classroom, students take with them an expanded world view, heightened compassion for both themselves and others, and a belief that they are worthy individuals with unique skills and talents to share. Her true talent as an educator is encouraging students to develop and use their own voice to be able to serve their future goals and the community at large. Ms. Ratcliff is the epitome of what we want for students in Calvert County Public Schools, a vibrant and enthusiastic educator who teaches students to believe in themselves, to push towards their full potential, and to envision a future in which they are capable of accomplishing anything they desire.”

Mr. Kurtz began his career in the science classroom at Calvert Middle and then Calvert High. As principal of Windy Hill since 2013, Mr. Kurtz “puts his students first in every conversation,” according to Diane Workman, Assistant Superintendent of Instruction. “His commitment to student learning,” she said, “ensures that every student in his school has access to a rigorous educational program and receives all the support necessary to achieve.” His colleague Zach Seawell, principal of Calvert Middle, echoes Ms. Workman’s sentiments, saying, “Mr. Kurtz makes every decision based on what’s best for students. He always considers the student outcome when faced with a decision.” His dedication to students, however, doesn’t end with the administrative responsibilities of data analysis, mentoring, and instructional leadership. When his students needed an incentive to meet a goal, Mr. Kurtz willingly challenged them—and, upon losing, donned a tutu to greet staff and students as they arrived for a day of learning.

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