Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS) is truly an incredible school district. While we are still on the path of moving from good to great, there is much to celebrate this year. Not only have our transportation woes dissipated for the most part and our #BePresent campaign is underway, but we’re also making progress on the new strategic plan, which will be a gamechanger for our students.
Most notably, our amazing educators and administrators have reached new heights this year, sweeping a myriad of national recognitions highlighted below. As AACPS Superintendent Mark Bedell stated during the October 18 meeting of the Board of Education, it is rare for a school system to be home to so many national recognitions simultaneously.
Bedell is the recipient of the National Alliance of Black School Educators 2023 Joseph E. Hill Superintendent of the Year Award. The award is presented annually to a sitting superintendent who has demonstrated a quality of leadership that resulted in significant positive outcomes for students of African descent. During his first school year with AACPS, Bedell led initiatives that resulted in increases in scores in seven of eight Maryland Comprehensive Assessment Program tests and improved the educational environment and achievement of Black and multiracial students in many categories. The improved scores in the 2022-2023 school year as compared to the 2021-2022 school year include the following: referral and suspension rates decreased; kindergarten readiness assessment scores increased; Maryland Comprehensive Assessment Program English language arts, math, high school biology and fifth-grade science scores increased; scores of 3 or higher on AP tests increased; PEAT participation increased; end-of-year kindergarten DIBELS scores, which measure early literacy skills, increased.
On October 13, Mary Kay Connerton, educator at Annapolis High School, was named Maryland State Teacher of the Year and finalist for National Teacher of the Year at the Maryland Teacher of the Year gala in Baltimore. Connerton, who has taught in AACPS for nearly 14 years and at Annapolis High School for the last nine years, serves as Annapolis High School’s wellness coordinator and is known as an advocate for student and staff well-being. Amongst her accomplishments, Connerton created and leads the school’s trauma-informed leadership team and utilizes a holistic approach to connect with teachers, administration, school counselors, social workers and community partners. She also leads monthly counseling groups such as yoga sessions for specific student needs and facilitates professional development, for teachers, that focuses on the health and wellness of students. She has been instrumental in the creation of the curriculum for the Stretch Your Wellness class, which is available to students throughout the school system.
Kimberly Winterbottom is the Maryland Association of Secondary School Principals 2024 Principal of the Year and is one of three finalists for National Principal of the Year by the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP). Winterbottom began her AACPS career in 2009 as an assistant principal at Southern Middle School and subsequently led the school as principal for two years. She is in her ninth year as principal at Marley Middle School.
Rodney Walker, principal at Brooklyn Park Elementary School, is the 2023 Maryland Association of Elementary School Principals (MAESP) National Distinguished Principal. The award, given in collaboration with the National Association of Elementary School Principals, recognizes principals who set high standards for instruction, student achievement, character, and climate for students, families and staffs in their learning communities. In presenting the award, MAESP cited Walker’s impact on his community, his staff, his students, and as a role model and mentor to his peers.
Melissa Quigley is the 2023 National Health Educator of the Year by Shape America. The award recognizes outstanding teachers who demonstrate exceptional teaching skills and provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary to practice and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Quigley has been teaching for 22 years. She has spent her entire teaching career at Broadneck High School and has taught various courses in health, physical education and dance.
Congratulations to these fabulous educators and school administrators. I am thankful for you and all of our teachers and staff.
As always, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 443-534-2660.