charles-county-public-schools-logoEducators were honored at the Charles County Special Education Citizens Advisory Committee’s 12th annual staff appreciation awards May 10. Parents and guardians nominated the teachers and teams who make a difference in the lives of children with special needs. More than 80 educators were recognized, with 13 people winning their respective categories.

Several parents and guardians spoke about the dedication their child’s teachers have shown.

“They show compassion and love to each student,” Jenna Cusack said of the team who works with her daughter, Lillian, at Dr. Thomas L. Higdon Elementary School. “Having a nonverbal child is hard as a parent. You have to trust they are safe and in the best possible hands,” Cusack said. “I thank God every day [the team is] in our lives.”

Ethel Levy spoke about how important Walter J. Mitchell Elementary School teacher Kristina Pagel is to her son. “She never gives up on Jack and she never lets him give up on himself,” Levy said. “She gives him the tools and confidence he needs not only to succeed in school, but to succeed in life.”

The following educators won their categories at the awards ceremony:

Michael Hicks, Piccowaxen Middle School — support staff;
Joanne Brown, F.B. Gwynn Educational Center — related services staff;
Kristina Pagel, Walter J. Mitchell Elementary School — elementary instructional;
Kimberly McCloskey, Heather Lombardi, Jennifer Foster and Pamela Riffle, Dr. Thomas L. Higdon Elementary School — elementary team;
David Mitchell, North Point High School — secondary instructional (high school);
Stacey Bennett, Benjamin Stoddert Middle School — secondary instructional (middle school);
Antonio Lumpkin and Delphine Owens, Maurice J. McDonough High School — secondary team (high school); and
Steve Willett and William Root, Milton M. Somers Middle School — secondary team (middle school).
For more information about the Charles County Special Education Citizens Advisory Committee (SECAC), visit or contact the Parent Center at 301-934-7456 or