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Good teachers are not hard to come by. The profession by trade is dedication of time and energy into shaping the future and guiding youth to be healthy and educated adults. Jessica Valentine Derr’s efforts for Frederick County Schools have not gone unnoticed. Valentine Derr was awarded the Simon A. McNeely Award for her outstanding contributions to health education for Frederick County Public Schools.

Valentine Derr has spent years developing an opioid prevention program and creating consistent and uniform curriculum content for health education for schools across Frederick County. She hopes to launch her opioid program in the coming year.

Simon A. McNeely Award winners must demonstrate teaching excellence in health or physical education, innovations in health or physical education, be actively involved in school and community affairs, and much more. Frederick County Public Schools are lucky to have such a dedicated professional.

Jessica Valentine Derr receives the Simon A. McNeely Award.

Sparkles the Therapy Dog visited Catoctin High School in December and received a warm welcome from students.

Sparkles volunteers with Wags for Hope, which uses therapy dogs in a variety of programs, including nursing homes and assisted living facilities, Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.), Hospice of Frederick County, Rock Creek School, and Frederick Memorial Hospital.

Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) is accepting nominations for the Washington Post Principal of the Year award until Friday, January 10, 2020, at 3:00 p.m. The Washington Post Educational Foundation sponsors the award, created to recognize principals who go beyond the day-to-day demands of their position to create an exceptional educational environment. The person chosen as The Washington Post’s regional Principal of the Year will receive a $7,500 monetary award, a trophy, and a half-page feature spot in The Washington Post.

The FCPS Public Affairs Department is coordinating the nomination and selection process before forwarding the FCPS finalist materials to The Washington Post. Nominees must be full-time principals, with at least five years of experience as a principal, the most recent three of which must be at FCPS. They must also serve as an administrator during the coming 2020-21 school year. Desired criteria include: skills in effective management; creativity and innovation; fostering cooperation between the school and community; maintaining a continuing dialog with students, parents, and staff; keeping abreast of developments in education; encouraging team spirit; demonstrating leadership and commitment; continuing to play a role in the classroom; and maintaining the position as principal through the 2019-20 school year.

Nominations are welcome from current and former students, teachers, support staff, parents, community members, administrators, and supervisors. The nomination package and details are online at www.fcps.org/centraloffice/wapo-principal.

BOE Honors Literacy Specialist Pamela Adams-Campbell

Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) announces the 2019 Veteran in Education Service Award winner, Catoctin High School Literacy Specialist Pamela Adams-Campbell. In its third year, the award was created to honor an FCPS employee who has served our nation in the armed forces and provided exemplary service to FCPS and the community.

A committee of FCPS staff, community members, and Veterans reviewed this year’s seven nominations and chose the award winner. Nominees were Veterans who demonstrate exemplary service to FCPS and the community by showing integrity and trustworthiness, perseverance in overcoming challenges, selflessness in helping others, and teamwork and loyalty. In addition to Adams-Campbell, nominees were Melanie Baldwin, Kevin Jaye, Paul Lebo, Perry C. Lewis, Lisa Martell, and Isaac Patterson.

Pamela Adams-Campbell served in the United States Marine Corps before becoming an educator. “I am certain that her commitment to her fellow Marines and to her work in that role was no less than one hundred percent, as that is what she gives to our school, students, and staff every day,” said Catoctin High School Principal Jennifer Clements. “When she identifies an area of need—for an individual student or for the entire school—she works furiously and collaboratively to identify a solution. She is the first to volunteer to do the work to effect positive change…she works hard every minute that she is here.”

Former Catoctin High School Principal Bernie Quesada agrees. He explained that Adams-Campbell “has taken the students—first as a special education teacher, then as literacy specialist—who have struggled the most academically, and never given up on them and their potential. She is an inspiration to her colleagues an example of selflessness and dedication. She is truly among the very best in FCPS and very worthy of this honor.”

Also supporting the nomination for Adams-Campbell, colleague Kate Mills described her as warm and caring, with unmatched devotion to students. Mills added that Adams-Campbell has a relationship with each department to promote literacy among all subject areas. “She checks in with teachers regularly to ensure that they understand how best to utilize reading strategies in their classrooms.”

The Board of Education recognized Adams-Campbell at their November 25, 2019, meeting, where she received an engraved plaque and gift sponsored by Woodsboro Bank. FCPS also honored Adams-Campbell at her school and in the school system’s Veterans Day celebrations and recognition ceremonies.

Pictured from left are Woodsboro Bank CEO Steven Heine, Retired U.S. Air Force Colonel John Fer, 2019 Veteran in Education Service Award winner Pamela Adams-Campbell, FCPS Superintendent Dr. Terry Alban, and BOE President Brad W. Young.

I have been on the job as the Principal of Catoctin High School for just under six months. In this short time, I have quickly come to appreciate how special the Northern Frederick County community is. There do not seem to be many places left where the school is such an integral part of the community; that is the case here at Catoctin, and that connection makes us all stronger.

The recent State Championship win by our football team has served as a very positive event around which our community has rallied. The support shown to our team and our school was incredible. The donations of food and other items for the players, the huge crowd at the game, the local showing of the game at the Ambulance Complex, and the reception for the team upon their return to town (including the ambulance and fire truck escorts) was nothing short of amazing. I was incredibly proud of our team, but I am also proud to be a part of this great community.

I have also been impressed with the amount of service that our students provide to our community. Catoctin students welcome opportunities to serve our community; they do so happily and frequently and with great benefit to those they are serving.

Catoctin High School has a 50-year history of great things. There are, however, many opportunities for us to build on that history and tradition to forge an even brighter future. I am confident we will do that with the service of our students and the support of our community as the foundation of that work.

As the principal of Catoctin High School and on behalf of our school, I want to say thank you to our community for your past and future support. We are committed to reciprocating that support as we also do the important work of educating and preparing the future of our community.

Mark your calendars for the Catoctin High School Talent Show on Wednesday, January 15, at 7:00 p.m. Many talented and creative students and staff will be performing, and the audience gets to decide the winners! Tickets are $5.00 each and will be sold at the door.

The National Grange, founded in 1867, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan fraternal organization that advocates for rural America and agriculture. The Grange is part of more than 2,100 hometowns across the United States. The Thurmont Grange serves our Catoctin region. One of the programs administered annually by the Grange is Words for Thirds, where every third-grade student in the local area is given a dictionary to keep.

Thurmont Elementary School

Pictured from left are: (back row) Russell Moser, Sidney Moser, Rodman Myers, Third Grade Teacher Connie Reynolds, Jody Eyler, Sue Keilholtz, and Carol Long; (front row) Aaron Mosiychuk, Chloe Glass, Chloe Shultz, Braelynn Keilholtz, and Ayden Merritt.

Emmitsburg Elementary School

Pictured from left are: (back row) Thurmont Grange volunteers, Paulette Mathias, Carolyn Wiles, Cliff Stewart, Sue Keilgoltz, and Bob Wiles; (front row) Leah French, Addison Tingler, Colt Atwell, and Cole Merriman.

Sabillasville Elementary School

Pictured from left are: (back row) Becky and Jim Royer, Third Grade Teacher Marnie Tootill-Mortenson, Principal Kate Krietz, SES and Thurmont Grange Secretary Jane Savage; (front row) Grayson Lawler, Josie Harbaugh, Avery Harbaugh, Brynn Eyler, Hope Rice, and Noah Bradbury.

Lewistown Elementary School

Lewistown Elementary School students in classes of Ms. Jozwiak and Ms. Graybill (third grade teachers) and Ms. Acevedo (EL Teacher) are presented dictionaries by Cheryl Lenhart on November 19 during American Education Week.

National FFA convention is held every year and attracts FFA members from every state, including Alaska and Hawaii. The 92nd National FFA Convention was held in Indianapolis, Indiana, from October 28-November 2, 2019. At the convention, 22 Catoctin FFA members joined over 69,000 other FFA members and guests from across our nation. Throughout the week, members were able to participate in sessions, workshops, and a career expo.

Members competed in career development events and leadership development events, more often referred to as CDEs and LDEs. To complete a CDE/LDE, each team (or individual contestant) had to extensively learn their subject and rehearse their task in preparation for the state convention. Every state gets to send one winning team per CDE/LDE to advance to nationals. This year, Catoctin FFA’s Agricultural Mechanics, Agricultural Issues, Farm and Agribusiness Management, and Milk Qualities and Products teams advanced to nationals.

Agriculture Mechanics: The Agricultural Technology and Mechanical Systems Career Development Event (CDE) helps students develop technical knowledge and an ability to work with others to solve complex agricultural problems. The event is built around students learning and executing a “systems approach.”Catoctin’s team placed silver. Danny Janc and Alex Sumner earned a bronze individual placing; Robert Hahn placed silver, individually; and Devin Wine placed gold, individually. The team won a welder for the Catoctin FFA Chapter. The team was coached by Phil Kolb and Tyler Wolf.

Agriculture Issues: The Agriculture Issues team presented a 15-minute skit on alternative milk options. Each member of the team played a part that was an expert on milk and alternative milk options. The team had to present the facts in an unbiased and creative way. The team earned a bronze placing. Members include: Kendall Abruzzese, Daniel Dutrow, Carley McGhee, Josie Kaas, and Kolton Whetzel. The team was coached by Cathy Little and Michael Poffenberger.

Farm and Agribusiness Management: Farm and Agribusiness Management helps the students to learn business skills and economic principles to agricultural businesses. Students were given a real-life business that they analyzed and answered questions. Catoctin’s team placed bronze at the national convention. Individual standing included: Abigail Christian and Taylor Wivell earned bronze placings. Riley Flick and Ty Lenhart earned silver placings. The team was coached by Micahel Poffenberger.

Milk Qualities and Products: Members in this CDE demonstrate their knowledge about the quality production, processing, distribution, promotion, and marketing of milk and dairy foods. Alexis Morgan and Kiah Morgan placed silver, individually. Sierra Weatherly and Cheyenne Van Echo placed gold, individually. The team was a silver placing team. The team was coached by Shelby Green and Carrie Wivell.

Members Paige Baker, Sierra Flanary, Abby Kinnaird, Konnor Sowell, and Cadin Valentine attended convention as Chapter Delegates.

Catoctin FFA sends out a special thanks to its chaperones, Cathy Little, Patti Hubbard, Matt Dellinger, Chris and Dani Jackson, Carrie Wivell, Shebly Green, Phil Kolb, Tyler Wolf, and Michael Poffenberger.

Four chapters in Maryland were recognized at this year’s convention. This is based on an application the chapter completes to showcase some of its activities throughout the year. Catoctin FFA was one of four eligible chapters from Maryland and was recognized nationally as a 1-star chapter.

As part of the Thurmont Lions Club Literacy Project for September (Literacy month), 648 books were delivered to the Thurmont Primary School and the Thurmont Elementary School. Literacy is one of the core missions of the club.

The books Paddington Sets Sail, Sleep Bear, and Amazing Dolphins were delivered to the Thurmont Primary School, and Flat Stanley and the Very Big Cookie, The Titanic, and The Truths and Myths about Weird Animals were delivered to the Thurmont Elementary School. 

Each book included a bookmark from Texas Roadhouse. If each child reads three books and has the bookmark signed by their parents, he/she will receive a free kid’s meal!

The principals were delighted and appreciative of the help they receive from the Thurmont Lions Club in supporting literacy in their schools.

Sabillasville Elementary School hosted its 5th Annual Sabillasville Scenic 5K/1-Mile Fun Run on November 10, 2019, organized by the Sabillasville Elementary School’s Parent Group (SES-PG). The SES-PG would like to thank all of the runners, walkers, and volunteers who came out to help support the SES-PG by participating in this event, “We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day, and we hope all enjoyed the event!”

The proceeds from the event help provide cultural arts programs, educational activities, and field trips for the students of SES. In honor of Veterans Day, SES student Charles McGinnis kicked-off the event by singing a lovely rendition of the National Anthem. Mayor John Kinnaird was also present to say a few words and start the race.

Many new and familiar faces were seen at the run this year. The participants ran along the scenic route and were cheered on by students, teachers, staff, and families of SES. The SES-PG looks forward to hosting this fun event again next year, and they hope to see even more new and familiar faces!

Special thanks is extended to the event’s Gold Sponsors: Catoctin Consultancy, Diamond-H Construction, Gnarly Artly, Monocacy Chimney Care Inc, KLM Specialty Projects, Mick’s Plumbing & Heating, Scenic View Orchard, Rocky’s in Cascade, Vinny Healy Memorial Christian Outreach Fund, and Black’s Funeral Home; Silver Sponsors: Anytime Fitness and Harbaugh’s Harvest.

Runners enjoy the breathtaking scenic view during the 5th Annual Sabillasville 5K/1-Mile Fun Run.

Zachary Olsen, a 2006 Catoctin Graduate, earned his Doctorate of Philosophy in Coastal and Marine System Sciences from Texas A&M University Corpus Christi in August of 2019.

After earning his B.A. at Malone University and his Masters of Sciences degree in Coastal Sciences from the University of Southern Mississippi, he accepted a job with Texas Parks and Wildlife. 

Starting as a technician and then a biologist of the Upper Laguna Madre, his current job title is a coastal ecologist for Texas Parks and Wildlife in their Department of Coastal Fisheries. 

Zach is the son of Tim and Lois Olsen of Thurmont, and currently lives with his wife, Serena, in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Recently, the Frederick County Retired School Personal Association (FCRSPA) had its fall luncheon at the Lewistown Fire Hall. The guest speaker was Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, president of the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC).

Dr. Hrabowski has been credited with transforming a commuter college into an institution known for its research and innovation, especially regarding African American students. He has written three books and been the recipient of many awards and honors. Dr. Hrabowski spoke about the role of higher education in American society and the importance of telling our own stories.

Membership in the FCRSPA is open to all those who have retired from Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS). For membership information, email myfcrspa@gmail.com or call the FCRSPA Member Chairperson at 301-788-1117.

The Lewistown Ruritan Club awarded scholarships to seven students at the annual Ruritan picnic in August.

The recipients and the schools they are attending are: Allison Rippeon, Shippensburg University;  Matt Gartrell, Mount Saint Mary’s University; Jennifer Lambert, Frederick Community College; and Aaron Matlock, West Virginia University.  Recipients not pictured are Meghan Jenkins, Salisbury University; Luke Staley, Hood College; and Allison Howard, Anne Arundel Community College.

Funds for these scholarships were derived from the annual Lewistown Ruritan Golf Tournament.  The members of the Lewistown Ruritan Club are proud to support these students in furthering their education.


Scholarship recipients pictured from left are: Allison Rippeon, Matt Gartrell, Jennifer Lambert, and Aaron Matlock. Recipients not pictured are Meghan Jenkins, Luke Staley, and Allison Howard.

Catoctin High School’s Mike Franklin is one of seven finalists for the 2019-2020 Maryland Teacher of the Year, announced by Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS). This most recent accomplishment is one of many honors that Franklin has earned throughout his career. These honors include: 2014 Maryland Outstanding PE Teacher, 2016 Hood College Charles E. Tressler Distinguished Teacher Award, and 2017 Fellowship of Christian Athletes Coach of the Year.

Franklin, who is a physical education teacher and baseball coach at Catoctin High School, was named Frederick County’s Teacher of the Year at the end of April. He has served as a champion and advocate for students throughout his 23 years teaching with FCPS.

Bernie Quesada, former Catoctin High School principal and now Middletown High School principal, echoes this sentiment, “Mike Franklin’s most endearing quality, and one that I personally admire, is that he has the uncanny ability to make any educational situation, no matter how difficult, much better with his positive and unwavering faith in children. That is a rare, innate quality that should be celebrated and emulated in teaching.”

Jennifer Clements, current principal at Catoctin High School, expressed her excitement surrounding Franklin’s accomplishment and stated, “Mike Franklin has been an asset to Catoctin High School for over 20 years, during which time he has taught, inspired, mentored, and supported thousands of students and colleagues. He is an excellent teacher and coach, but, most importantly, he is an amazing person who works each day to bring a smile to those around him and to ‘catch them being good.’ We are proud of Mike’s well-deserved recognition as FCPS Teacher of the Year and finalist for Maryland’s Teacher of the Year.”

Franklin recognizes the value of providing students with positive reinforcement: “I believe in celebrating successes daily. I’ve seen the power of a compliment or a simple positive phone call home to let the parents know their child is awesome.”

Finalists are selected by a panel of judges from a number of key Maryland education organizations, representing principals, teachers, school boards, teacher unions, parents, and higher education. The selection process is based on a rigorous set of state and national criteria that include knowledge of teacher pedagogy, community engagement, and expertise in general education topics and issues. The finalists were selected from a group of 24 local teachers of the year that represent the 24 Maryland school systems.

The 2019-2020 Maryland Teacher of the Year will be announced at the October 25, 2019, gala reception and dinner at Martin’s West in Baltimore.

Catoctin High School (CHS) and Frederick County Public Schools celebrate CHS’s own Mike Franklin, selected as a finalist for the 2019-2020 Maryland Teacher of the Year award.

Theresa Dardanell

Catoctin High School welcomes Jennifer Clements, Principal; Kelly Welty, Administrative Secretary; Olivia Aungst, English Teacher; Brian Brotherton, Science Teacher; Derrick Kaas, Math Teacher; Shawn Lees-Carr, English Teacher; Christopher Maze, Latin Teacher; Kaitlyn Masotta, Spanish Teacher; Stephanie Felmet, User Support Specialist.

Thurmont Middle School welcomes Rebecca Hunter, Language Arts Teacher; Todd Zinn, Career Technology Teacher; Brianne Green, History Teacher; Robert Almovodar, World Language Teacher; Aimee Watkins, Math Teacher; Krystal McKenzie, Special Education Instructional Assistant.

Thurmont Elementary School welcomes Sandy Smith, Media Specialist; Harry Hanna, Fifth Grade Teacher; Tammy Ferrell, Third Grade Teacher; Aaron Johnson, Physical Education Teacher; Kathryn Zumbrun, Music Teacher; Tammy Cody, User Support Specialist; Amanda Chapman, Beth Cochran, and Donna Smith, Special Education Instructional Assistants.

Thurmont Primary School welcomes Dr. Michele Baisey, Principal.

Lewistown Elementary School welcomes Ryan Hench, Art Teacher; Ashley Hood, Special Education Teacher; Allyson Gwinn, Fourth Grade Teacher; Emma Jozwiak, Third Grade Teacher; Todd Cutsail and Leslie Carbaugh, Pyramid Teachers.

Sabillasville Elementary School welcomes Jill Dutrow, Art Teacher; Gary Burgess, Physical Education Teacher; Carrie Trax, Music Teacher; Christine Ortiz, Special Education Instructional Assistant.

The Thurmont High School Class of 1952 met at the Thurmont Grange Hall in June.

Pictured from left are: (seated) Barbara Bittner Abraham and Betty Baker Trite; (standing) Virginia Dewees Portner, Charles Portner, Harold Long, Dorothy Jackson Ramsberg, Rodman Myers, Doris Nunamaker Dougherty, Sylvester Hann, Betty Willard, Jean Wolfe Cline, and Eugene Schoonover.

Thanks to the generosity of the supporters of the James H. Mackley Golf Day event for the past years, the Guardian Hose Company Inc. has awarded over $10,000 in scholarships to graduating seniors from Catoctin High School.

The scholarship was awarded to Caitlyn Naff this past year. The Guardian Hose Company will be renewing scholarships for Lauren Ames again this year. In the spring, the Guardian Hose Company will be once again presenting a local graduating student a scholarship in honor of James H. Mackley’s name to a student that wants to continue with an education in the public safety field (Fire, EMS, Police, etc).

Pictured are Terry Frushour and Caitlyn Naff.

Joan Bittner Fry

As I peruse more “stuff” in my house, I look back 70-some years to my days as a patrolman at Sabillasville Elementary School.  Some of my teachers were Naomi Martin Waynant, Margaret Leatherman Dutrow, Loretta Kincaid, and Maurice Clarke.

When a student arrived at the upper grades, a coveted duty was to become a safety patrolman.  The Automobile Association of America (AAA) sponsored School Safety Patrol, and it was an honored position, which began in 1922. It was established for traffic safety, but since we had no streets to cross, our assignments were hall patrolman, recess patrolman, or bus patrolman. This was quite a position to hold since one could be the boss of one’s peers for a time and then take names and report findings to higher-ups, namely teachers. We wore a patrolman’s canvas belt and were issued badges.  Mine says “Patrolman School Safety Patrol” centered with AAA.

Rules and regulations included: reporting for duty on time, performing duties faithfully, striving to prevent accidents, always setting a good example, and reporting dangerous activities of other students. Approval of a parent or guardian was required before taking on this position.

I couldn’t be a bus patrolman since my siblings and neighbors and I walked over a mile to school. I was a hallway patrolman. Some infractions were running the steps, pushing or shoving, talking, chewing gum, or otherwise being unruly. Bullying was not in our vocabulary; however, circumstances weren’t much different from today. Even then there were fellow students who wanted to be first, those who had to speak out, and others who wanted to bend the rules. We just didn’t have a name for it, and maybe that was a good thing.

Going on to Thurmont in eighth grade, the School Safety Patrol took a trip to Washington, D.C., where we marched in the annual parade.  The photo above is of Charlie Wastler (whom I met in eighth grade at Thurmont High School) and me on that trip. We became lifelong friends. Notice Charlie’s belt and cap. This was 1951 and may have been the first bus trip I ever took.  The other photo is my collection of School Safety Patrol memorabilia (above, left).

Theresa Dardanell

Thurmont Primary

Open House and visitation for all students and parents will be on Thursday, August 29, from 5:00-6:00 p.m. Please come to meet your teacher and tour the school. 

Kindergarten parent/guardian orientation will be held on Thursday, August 22, from 5:30-6:30 p.m. for parents only (no children, please). 

Thurmont Elementary

Thurmont Elementary is excited to announce that they will once again have an opportunity for your child to meet his/her teacher before school starts. Last year, they had quite a successful turnout and students seemed excited to meet their teachers and classmates. On Thursday, August 29, from 3:40-4:40 p.m., the school will have “The Great Reveal” again, which will allow you to find your child’s classroom and hear about the new school year, as well as meet his/her teacher. “We’re so looking forward to opening a new school year with you and your children. Enjoy the remainder of the summer with your children. Be sure to mark your calendar!” —Debbie O’Donnell, Principal

Sabillasville Elementary

Back-to-School Night will be on Thursday, August 29, at 6:00 p.m.

Lewistown Elementary

Back to School Open House Night for all grade levels, pre-K through fifth grade, will be on Thursday, August 29, from 5:00-6:00 p.m. The Open House begins in the cafeteria, with staff introductions and ice cream treats. Visit the classrooms and meet the teachers. Join the PTA and purchase spirit wear.

Thurmont Middle

Open House will be on August 21, from 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., and 1:00-4:00 p.m. Pick up your schedule and take a self-guided tour. Chromebook payments can be made by cash or check. T-shirts will be available for sale (also cash or check only). Come and meet your teachers during Back-to-School Night on August 29, from 6:00-7:30 p.m.

Catoctin High

Back-to-School Night will be Thursday, August 29, from 6:00-7:45 p.m.  Pick up your schedules, learn about clubs, visit the classrooms, and meet the teachers. Also, meet Jennifer Clements, Catoctin High School’s new principal.  

Area churches and organizations in Emmitsburg, Lewistown, Rocky Ridge, Sabillasville, and Thurmont are working to provide students in need with school supplies for the 2019-2020 school year.

This program is to assist students attending the Catoctin Feeder Schools.   These schools include Emmitsburg Elementary, Lewistown Elementary & Pyramid Program, Sabillasville Elementary, Thurmont Primary, Thurmont Elementary, Thurmont Middle, and Catoctin High.

The 2019 Annual Catoctin Community School Supply Drive is going to be held on Tuesday, August 20,  from 9:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m., at the Graceham Moravian Church, located at 8231 Rocky Ridge Road in Thurmont. 

If you would like to donate to this program, please drop off school supplies, cash donations, or gift cards (Walmart) to the church on August 14 from 9:00 a.m. until noon. 

Any questions or concerns, please contact Coordinator Jennifer Harbaugh at 301-639-9970 or caringind@aol.com.

Blair Garrett

Teachers are an integral part in the development of youth today.

Over the course of the school year, they work day in and day out to give children a well-rounded education. But what about over the summer months when kids are out of school?

Teachers like Missy Kearchner, who teaches fifth grade at Emmitsburg Elementary School, continue the push to strengthen the curriculum and prepare new teachers for the upcoming year.

“I’m working with rewriting the curriculum and making sure we’re touching all the indicators that are important in sixth grade, and then I build the website for teachers for the entire county,” Kearchner said.

Kearchner archives resources like videos and worksheets for other teachers to use during the school year. “I’ll do that throughout the summer, and then during the school year I’ll keep editing and revising it.”

The work doesn’t end on the official last day of school each June for teachers. Much evaluation and development is done to adjust specialized subjects like math and science to better suit students as they continue on with their education into middle school and high school.

Kearchner then spends weeks over the course of June and July focusing on curriculum writing for the county, editing and making changes to ensure the upcoming school year’s academic goals have a foundation to build toward. With the curriculum paired with the website, teachers now have resources designed to cut down on extra time needed to spend putting together teaching plans.

The work done to provide strategies for new teachers across the county is a major focus for Kearchner, but her main focus over the remaining weeks of summer is on improving Emmitsburg Elementary.  

“We are also looking at our school, specifically, making sure we make it the best for this upcoming year,” Kearchner stated. “We’re brainstorming new ideas: how can we get the kids excited to be coming to school and how can we make sure while we’re keeping them excited, we’re still getting the math and reading scores up and closing that achievement gap.”

Much of the work teachers do across all grades is behind the scenes, but it’s necessary to best prepare students for the next step in their schooling, whether that’s the jump to middle school or the jump to college.

The involvement with parents has been a key in improving the parent-teacher and parent-student relationships. “This week, we’re actually making videos for parents of teachers to show them how their kids are learning at school,” Kearchner explained. “We’re working on a video for parents with an example showing them how to solve problems, and we’re showing parents that we can send these out with newsletters throughout, so hopefully then parents will be able to help their students.”

The countless hours required to be put in by teachers to bring success to their students may sometimes fly under the radar, but the impact absolutely reflects on the students’ school experience. “I haven’t had a day off since school ended,” Kearchner said.

Kearchner’s actual summer break lasts for just two weeks before new teacher orientation kicks off, where she shows teachers fresh out of college how to set up and prepare their classroom for the upcoming year. After orientation, the cycle repeats as soon as kids once again flood the halls at school for a fresh, new year.

It’s hard to quantify just how much effort teachers like Kearchner pour into their craft, but nobody benefits more than the kids who move in and out Emmitsburg Elementary.