(Left) Jennifer Abell (Right) Barbara Palko

LA PLATA, Md. – The Board of Education of Charles County unanimously elected Barbara Palko as its chairman and Jennifer Abell as its vice chairman at the start of the Jan. 9 meeting. This is the first term as chairman for Palko, who served as vice chairman for the past year. Abell, who is serving her third term with the Board, was first appointed to the Board in 2004. This is Abell’s second time serving in a leadership position on the Board. She served as vice chairman in 2005.

Palko thanked the Board for its support of her nomination as chairman and said she looks forward to leading the group.

“Over the last three years I have learned the importance of timely communication and transparency. Inclusiveness with stakeholders, staff, students and the community is important. I believe this Board and the school system have made strides in our communication. I am honored to receive every single invitation that is sent. I mention this because I believe it is important for Board members to be visible. I am honored to serve as chairman and continue with our mission,” Palko said.

Abell also thanked her fellow Board members for the opportunity to help lead the group and said she looked forward to continuing her work with the Board.

“I have been with the Board for 14 years. I would be honored to serve this Board in that capacity once again. I do think we are all equal and I am looking forward to continuing that process,” Abell said.

Mrs. Palko is serving in her first term on the Board and has served one year as its vice chairman. She is a retired Career and Technology Education coordinator who also served as a teacher and specialist during her 35-year career with Charles County Public Schools (CCPS). She worked with the Teacher Academy of Maryland Program Advisory Council and CCPS career and technology education programs. She is a member of the Charles County Retired School Personnel Association, the Maryland Retired School Personnel Association, Future Educators Association and International Technology and Engineering Educators’ Association. She earned her master’s degree in human development-early childhood/special education and her bachelor’s degree in elementary education with a science major. She lives in Charlotte Hall.

Ms. Abell was first appointed to the Board in 2004 and served as its vice chairman in 2005 for one year. She was re-elected to her third term in November 2014. She is the Senior Development Manager for the March of Dimes Greater Washington, D.C., Market and a longtime resident of Charles County. She is a member of New Life Wesleyan Church, Charles County Chamber of Commerce, Partnerships For A Healthier Charles County and the Fetal Infant Mortality Review Board. She has volunteered and held leadership positions with many local organizations, including Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of the United States of America, Kiwanis International, Parent Teacher Association, Indian Head Swim Team and the Center for Abused Persons. Ms. Abell received her undergraduate degree at the College of Southern Maryland, lives in La Plata and has four children, all whom graduated from CCPS.