Dorothy (Dot) Bell-Jackson joined the Somerset County Public Schools System at the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year. She taught in Talbot County Public Schools for eight years prior to teaching in SCPS. While at TCPS, she taught fifth and second grades and special education. During her sixth year in Somerset she was transferred from Princess Anne Elementary School (PAES) to work with the students at the Somerset Promise Academy (SPA).
She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education, a Master’s Degree in English/TESOL and a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership.
Ms. Bell-Jackson said, “During my time at PAES and SPA, I’ve been able to work with talented, dedicated staff as well as amazing students who helped me to grow both personally and professionally, and I am grateful to have been part of two teams who work so hard to ensure student success. In both buildings, I have had the opportunity to work on initiatives to increase the success of students with academic and behavior challenges. I’m proud of the strides we made to coordinate academic, behavioral, mental health, and community-based services to provide appropriate programming for students with special needs.”
She indicated that her goal for the upcoming year is to partner with the Greenwood Elementary School staff, students, and families to provide a safe and supportive environment where students are able to reach their full potential. She said, “Going forward, I would love to facilitate opportunities for students to develop long-term plans for accessing the many college and career paths that are available to them.”
Former Supervisor of Special Education Dr. Lynnette Johnson wrote, “Dorothy-Bell Jackson is the epitome of professionalism. She is one of the most dedicated employees that I have (within the special education department). Ðot” as we affectionately call her, is always willing to do whatever she needs to get done. She is a true team player. Her quiet demeanor has afforded us the opportunity to build positive relationships with families across the district. I am … excited about the possibilities that Somerset will be afforded with Dot’s position as an administrator. Director of Schools Tracie Bartemy said, Dot has an extensive knowledge of Special Education. She has taken on a leadership role this last year and I know will continue to shine at her new placement at Greenwood Elementary School.”
Experience is often considered to be the best teacher. Tony Bevilacqua brings varied experience to his latest position as assistant principal at Somerset Intermediate School. He has 15 years of teaching and coordinating experience as an English and language arts teacher, a social studies teacher, an instructional facilitator and an after-school program director. The SAILS after-school program continues to grow and show positive statistical results. In addition, Mr. Bevilacqua has experience as an educator in Richmond, Virginia, Worcester County Public Schools and Somerset County Public Schools.
Mr. Bevilacqua has a Bachelor’s Degree in History and African Studies, a Master’s Degree in Teaching, a Master’s Degree in English and an administrative endorsement.
He most recently has served as instructional facilitator at Washington Academy and High School and director of the after-school SAILS Program. In speaking of the daily responsibilities of those assignments he said, “Both positions humbled and helped prepare me to begin thinking about achieving goals that district and school leaders design. I am learning that in order to achieve certain goals, a team has to keep revisiting the vision, mission, and goals/objectives, and the team needs to work collaboratively and honestly to get results.”
Mr. Bevilacqua wants to best assist teachers do what they came to do: “teach and help students grow.”
Deputy Superintendent of Schools Tom Davis said of Mr. Bevilacqua, “(He) has an unquestionable instructional strength in the areas of reading, language arts and social studies. He brings a wealth of knowledge from his past experiences and will be a wonderful asset to the administration, staff and students of Somerset Intermediate School.”
Veteran physical education teacher and coach Matthew Brady has been named as one of the Assistant Principals at Washington Academy and High School. He has taught at Deal Island Elementary School and at Princess Anne Elementary School. In addition, Mr. Brady has coached Washington High School varsity soccer for eight years and academy baseball for five years. Mr. Brady has Bachelor’s Degree in Physical education and a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership.
He served as Acting Assistant Principal at WAHS for part of this past year. Mr. Brady said of his experience throughout his career and his recent position, ….” I have noticed that all students want to succeed in some area of education. At the high school level being able to make them college or career ready will be at the utmost importance as we move forward.” He said his main goal as an administrator at Washington Academy and High School is that “I want to provide stability and consistency for students and staff. When both parties feel supported on a daily basis I believe the teachers can provide high quality instruction and the students will meet and exceed academic goals/expectations.”
2015-2016 WAHS Acting Principal Germaine Richardson said, “Mr. Brady is able to build a positive rapport with teachers, students, and parents. (He) is able to help implement school rules and county policies to promote a safe and orderly environment.” Deputy Superintendent of Schools Tom Davis wrote, “Mr. Brady has the potential to be a highly effective high school administrator. He brings a balanced demeanor with a common sense approach that will serve him well. He has experience with high school students both from his coaching days and during his previous assignment as Acting Assistant Principal.”
After fifteen years working within the Somerset County Public School System, Kirstin Gibson has been named principal of Woodson Elementary School. Over the years, she taught second and third grades, served as a reading coach and assistant principal of Woodson Elementary School. Ms. Gibson has a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and a Master’s Degree in Administration,
She has worked with Greenwood Elementary principal Cheryl O’Neal and Woodson Elementary principal Lilly Welch. She said, “I have gained insight into leadership styles. Both ladies taught me to be a thoughtful problem solver and how to effectively collaborate in order to get a task accomplished.” She believes her time in the classroom helped her learn strategies on effectively and positively working with students and family members.
Ms. Gibson is pleased with the success of the Parent Involvement Initiative at Woodson Elementary School. She said, “I believe we have made positive headway in closing the gap between home and school.”
In discussion her short-range and long-range goals, she said, “I have one year, three years, and five year goals for Woodson. This first year one of my goals is to reduce office referrals by 20%. Through high visibility and proactive measures, I look to reduce the number of students sent to the office and increase student time on task. Secondly, my parental involvement goal is to increase attendance at functions by 20%. By reaching out and drawing in, I hope to strengthen our bond with our school families. Lastly, with regards to PARCC testing, my goal is increase the students' comfort with online testing and their overall performance on the assessment. Our students and staff are working hard to strengthen their knowledge base. We just need the assessment data to reflect their growth.”
Speaking of Ms. Gibson’s expertise, Deputy Superintendent of Schools Tom Davis said, “Ms. Gibson brings a strong instructional foundation and a passion for student learning to the position of principal. Similar to her predecessor (Lilly Welch), the staff and students will benefit from Ms. Gibson’s data-driven mindset.”
For twenty-eight years Cheryl O’Neal has served as principal at Princess Anne Primary School (12 years), Westover Elementary School (4 years) and Greenwood Elementary School (12 years). Prior to her work as a principal in the three locations she worked as a special education resource teacher for eight years at Washington High School.
Ms. O’Neal has a Bachelor’s Degree in K-12 Special Education from Hood College, a Master’s of Arts in Communicative Disorders and classes toward administrative and supervisory certification at Salisbury University.
Ms. O’Neal wrote, “During our 12 years as Greenwood Elementary we have had numerous causes for celebration as our students excelled in all areas, the students in our fine arts and after school programs demonstrated their talents and we supported several charities annually. Our first huge accomplishment was bringing together the staff and community from two different schools to develop the philosophy, expectations, vision and branding of our new school. During the process we were also working with the Chesapeake Coalition of Essential Schools and became a fully affirmed Coalition school after three years of intense professional development. Greenwood was one of thirty schools in the state of Maryland in 2011 named a Title I Distinguished High Performing Reward School. In the last couple of years our Kindergarten program was accredited by the state of Maryland and the Pre-K program has been published at a level 5 certification with MD EXCELS. Developing a "Culture of Readers" continues to be a major goal. Learning to read and finding what you love to read are huge gifts that we can give our children.”
She has two main goals including providing more inclusive opportunities for young children and supporting students as they transition to post-secondary experiences and the work force.
Deputy Superintendent of Schools Tom Davis said, “Mrs. O’Neal brings an instructional strength to this position that will bridge the work between regular education and special education. This connection will be critical to the academic success of our students with learning disabilities.”
Finishing ten years with Somerset County Public Schools, Terra Taylor has served as a 5th grade teacher at Greenwood Elementary School for seven years and two years as a Learning Support Specialist at Washington Academy and High School.
She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education, a Master’s of Education Degree in School Counseling and various subject area and administrative endorsements.
In talking about the two positions she had held Ms. Taylor said, “I loved both positions! People always ask which position do I like better but I always say, I love them both because they are so different. As a teacher, I loved watching my students grow and becoming a part of their own learning. My proudest moment as the Learning Support Specialist was attaining the PBIS Gold Award and having between 33%-60% participation in the monthly incentives.” The program is designed to provide incentives for students to continue to improve academic performance, attendance and behavior. Ms. Taylor believes the two experiences have helped prepare her for the assistant principal position.
She wants to align with the Woodson Elementary School goals to help increase academic and social performance of the students and to build rapport with staff, students, parents and community members. She said she wants to do her best to consider the interest of the students and to be a role model.
Secondary Student Services Supervisor Tracey Cottman said, “Terra will bring to this position a warm and caring personality and a high level of energy. She is able to engage students and staff very easily and is a natural leader. She is always exploring ways to integrate new ideas to improve the overall educational experience for our students.” Acting Principal Germaine Richardson said, “Ms. Taylor will be an effective leader because she is able to build positive relationships with students, teachers and parents. Ms. Taylor can effectively solve problems, communicate both oral and writtenTaylor. and has the ability to be flexible. Ms. Taylor is well organized, self-motivated and self-driven.”
Entering her 12th year within Somerset County Public Schools Ashley Walters worked six years as a 3rd grade teacher, two years as a reading coach and three years as an assistant principal. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and a Master’s Degree in Public School Administration with administrative endorsements.
Ms. Walters said, “I feel blessed to have been able to serve as an assistant principal at Woodson and Greenwood. Both schools have taught me a lot over the past three years and have helped prepare me for my new role. I appreciate the wealth of knowledge and support I’ve received from the two principals (Ms. Welch-Ms. O’Neal) and the staff at each school. I have worked a lot with Parent Involvement over the past few years and planning and organizing events for our students and their families. I am especially proud of the Dads at Work program I began at Woodson Elementary School last year. This program welcomed Dads and positive male figures to special school events with their student, to help make them feel more welcomed at our school. I have also worked closely with the PBIS team and new initiatives at GES since I began working here in January.”
She said she is looking forward to continuing to improve parent and community involvement within Greenwood Elementary, in order to boost student achievement. She also plans to work closely with the school’s leadership and PBIS committees to develop strategies to boost student motivation, engagement and good decision making.
Lilly Welch indicated, “Mrs. Walters will make an effective principal because she is passionate about her work, organized, personable driven and asks herself; “What’s best for the student?” when she is faced with a challenging decision.” Kirstin Gibson said, “Mrs. Walters exudes leadership qualities. Her rapport with staff and attention to organization and detail make her second to none. She will surely be an asset to Greenwood Elementary.”
A number of veterans have received promotions within the school system. Lilly Welch has been appointed to the position of Supervisor of Reading, World Language & ELA (K-12). Ms. Welch has served in numerous capacities during the last twenty years including a special education paraprofessional at Whittington Primary School, a grade one teacher, reading coach and principal at Princess Anne Elementary School and principal of Woodson Elementary School. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education, a Master’s Degree in Reading and an administrative endorsement.
Ms. Welch wrote, "It was very rewarding to be the principal of the school in which I was a student. Although it was a middle school when I went through it was still quite humbling. I am most proud of the in-county leaders that have been cultivated under my principalship. Several of the APs have become principals and numerous teachers have assumed formal and informal leadership roles in Somerset. Our staff have been proactive in seeking additional grant funds to enhance our current programs over the years as interventions or enrichments."
In her new capacity, she expressed four goals including building collaboration among teachers, providing high quality professional development to staff, using technology as a tool to support development of reading and writing skills and integrating more research based intervention and enrichment programs in PK-Grade 12.
Deputy Superintendent Tom Davis said, “Mrs. Welch brings a data-driven mindset to the ELA Supervisory position. Her instructional background and passion for learning will drive the necessary supports provided to all teachers at every level.”