Board honors staff for commitment to students, school system

The Board of Education at its May 8 meeting honored four Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) staff members for their commitment to teaching and learning, and dedication to the school system.

Honored were Michelle Colbert, Susan Harris, Carla Joyner and Janis Milman.

Colbert is a teacher in the three-year-old program at J.P. Ryon Elementary School. She works daily to build a strong social, emotional and academic foundation for children. She fosters language development, creative-thinking skills and compassion among her students. She is well-known among her colleagues as a role model teacher who demonstrates kindness and patience. Colbert strives to maintain positive relationships with not only her students, but with anyone in need of additional guidance and support. Colbert is often visited by teachers and aspiring teachers who view her as a resource for professional development. She thinks of each student as unique and often refers to them as “special puzzles just waiting for someone to figure them out.” Ryon Principal Thadine Wright said Colbert is the type of teacher who puts her students first. “Her dedication and daily interaction with our students, their parents and our entire school community serves as a model for every facet of J.P. Ryon Elementary School,” Wright wrote in a nomination letter.

Harris is a fifth-grade teacher at William A. Diggs Elementary School. She began her teaching career in 2003. She joined the teaching team at Diggs in 2013 and previously taught both second and fourth grades at Dr. Gustavus Brown Elementary School. She works hard to create and maintain relationships with her students and sets high expectations for her class. Last school year, Harris’ class achieved the highest median score on a systemwide reading assessment. Harris has served in several leadership roles at Diggs since 2013, including team leader, accelerated math teacher, and fifth-grade math team coach. She exemplifies lifelong learning by regularly participating in professional development opportunities. Diggs Principal Debra Calvert said Harris is an asset to the school community. “Susan entered teaching as a second career. She sets high expectations for herself, her peers and her students,” Calvert wrote in a nomination letter.

Joyner is a language arts teacher at General Smallwood Middle School. She is passionate about teaching and believes in each of her students. Joyner strives to develop and maintain positive relationships with her students and inspires them to work hard toward their goals. Joyner also oversees the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program at the school. As the AVID coordinator, Joyner is responsible for helping to provide challenging academic courses for students in support of their preparation for college and careers. She hosts monthly AVID meetings with staff to monitor student progress and discuss learning strategies for students. Joyner also serves as the eighth-grade team leader and volunteers with her local church, the Charles County Literacy Council, the Charles County Humane Society and the Multiple Sclerosis Society. Smallwood Principal Kathy Kiessling said Joyner is a valuable asset to the school community. ”She is willing to take on any task that is asked of her, and she skillfully manages or implements what needs to be done. Ms. Joyner does it all with kindness and consideration. She is truly a gem,” Kiessling wrote in a nomination letter.

Milman is a science teacher at Thomas Stone High School. She is a leader among her peers and helps to oversee the science department. Milman has also served as the senior class co-sponsor for several years and manages all graduation ceremony details for Stone. Her commitment to the students and staff at Stone is evident in the time she dedicates to lesson plans, department meetings, student activities and student success. She is known among her peers as the backbone of the science department and a role model teacher for both new and veteran teachers. Milman also dedicates time to work with students outside of the classroom. She has served as a field hockey and Envirothon team coach. Stone Principal Michael Charlton said Milman’s hard work and efforts help to positively highlight the school. “Mrs. Milman coordinates Thomas Stone’s graduation ceremonies in a way that flawlessly showcases the best of our students, staff and community. She does this each year with style and grace,” Charlton wrote in a nomination letter.

The Board at its monthly meetings honors exemplary CCPS students and staff for their accomplishments.

About CCPS

Charles County Public Schools provides 26,900 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.

The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Dr. Patricia Vaira, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Nikial Majors, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.

The Southern Maryland Chronicle is a local, small business entrusted to provide factual, unbiased reporting to the Southern Maryland Community. While we look to local businesses for advertising, we hope to keep that cost as low as possible in order to attract even the smallest of local businesses and help them get out to the public. We must also be able to pay employees(part-time and full-time), along with equipment, and website related things. We never want to make the Chronicle a “pay-wall” style news site.

To that end, we are looking to the community to offer donations. Whether it’s a one-time donation or you set up a reoccurring monthly donation. It is all appreciated. All donations at this time will be going to furthering the Chronicle through hiring individuals that have the same goals of providing fair, and unbiased news to the community. For now, donations will be going to a business PayPal account I have set-up for the Southern Maryland Chronicle, KDC Designs. All business transactions currently occur within this PayPal account. If you have any questions regarding this you can email me at

Thank you for all of your support and I hope to continue bringing Southern Maryland the best news possible for a very long time. — David M. Higgins II

© 2019 The Southern Maryland Chronicle. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.