SECAC-PG 2016-2017 Extraordinary Service Award Recipients

Our 2017 Extraordinary Service Award Winners – Back Row: Sarah Wayland (SECAC Vice Chair), Trinell Bowman (Director of Special Education), Pamela Talley (SECAC Chair), Marsha Fortenberry and Debra Duckett. Front Row: Charles Mills, Emily Moore, Alexis Donoghue, Virginia Ann Johnson, and Mary Bell.

Our Extraordinary Service Awards Ceremony honoring our 2017 winners was held on Tuesday, May 23rd at 6:30 pm.

Alexis Donoghue, Science Teacher
Eleanor Roosevelt High School

Ms. Alexis Donoghue is a science teacher at Eleanor Roosevelt High School. She cares deeply about the success of the students enrolled in her Research Practicum class – a class for seniors in the Science and Technology Magnet program whose chosen focus area is in the Physical Sciences. Students in her class complete a science research project, from conception, to research design, through data collection, analysis, write-up, and presentation at the end of the school year. It is the ultimate long-term project, which is challenging for all students. This year, one of her students came to the class with known challenges in executive functioning and staying organized. She identified his challenges early in the year and worked to figure out how to adapt the accommodations outlined in his IEP that could be potential barriers to completing the project. She convened an IEP meeting at the very beginning of the year where her student, his parents, and the educators involved in the Research Practicum component of the Science/Tech program, could openly discuss how to keep her student on track so he didn’t get overwhelmed by the project. Ms. Donoghue coordinated with his parents, communicated well, and was kind and caring, empathetic, and helpful. As the parent of this student said, “His project was a big success! We are so proud of our son, and so grateful to Ms. Donoghue for her guidance and support.”

Debra Duckett, Bus Driver (Mullikan Bus Lot)
Transportation Department

Ms. Debra Duckett (also known as Ms. Debbie) is a PGCPS bus attendant who is truly a gift to her students. She is caring, compassionate and giving.  She happily goes out of her way if a situation calls for it, without hesitation.  Parents truly appreciate her support.

Ms. Duckett greets students with a smile and excitement each day.  She is warm and friendly, and many feel as if she is a family member.  She enthusiastically sings songs like “Happy Birthday” with her students without concern for repetitiveness. In fact, Ms. Debbie willingly sings along as if it’s her first time joining in with a student‘s favorite song. After singing “Happy Birthday” fourteen times, she still exudes pure joy as she prepares to sing it “one more time.”

Ms. Duckett is trained and confident in responding appropriately when working with students who have special health care needs such as epilepsy. She reviews information thoroughly so that she can respond to any health care crisis with a calm demeanor, confidence, and ease.  Parents of children with special health care needs can feel confident that their child will be safe in her hands.  Ms. Duckett deserves this award for her extraordinary efforts on behalf of students with special health care needs.

Marsha Fortenberry, Dedicated Assistant
High Bridge Elementary School

Ms. Marsha Fortenberry is a Dedicated Aide at High Bridge Elementary School. She works with a dynamic student and is trained to guide her academically and assist with her health care needs. In addition, Ms. Fortenberry helps re-direct her student to fully engage in the learning environment when needed.

When Ms. Fortenberry is out on leave she often thinks about her student, and has sometimes even called in to check on her progress. She communicates well with other educational and nursing support. Ms. Fortenberry is detailed-oriented, which helps put parents at ease. She is a valued Dedicated Aide, treasured gift for her student, and wonderful asset to her assigned school.

Virginia Ann Johnson, Bus Driver (Fairmount Heights Bus Lot)
Transportation Department

Ms. Johnson (affectionately known as Ms. Ann) has been providing transportation to Prince George’s County Public School students for over 20 years.  She currently provides transportation for special needs students attending nonpublic schools in Baltimore. Safety is her top priority for transporting all students.

In addition to being an exceptional driver, she has received specialized training so she can support the students on her bus. Through collaborative team meetings, Ms. Ann has learned about special health care needs. She enthusiastically follows protocols, and is trained to assist other bus staff in case of an emergency.  Ms. Ann greets students warmly each day and assures parents they will be transported safely. When students have sensory challenges or extreme behaviors, she responds calmly. She believes bus rides can be therapeutic in helping student to relax and prepare for their academic day.  Within the scope of her responsibilities she is both detailed-oriented and flexible when needed, which is a treasured benefit to both students and parents.

Denise Lewis, Bus Aide (Mullikan Bus Lot)
Transportation Department

Ms. Denise Lewis (affectionately known as Ms. Denise) is a PGCPS bus driver who is caring, patient, and friendly to all students assigned to her bus, especially one shining star student: Gabby. She is always on time and greets parents and students with a smile each day.  Gabby is so excited when the bus arrives, that she literally screams and rushes to get on the bus.  She waves with both her hands to Ms. Denise, who she calls Auntie, and Ms. Denise enthusiastically waves back.  She always reminds Gabby to “tell Mommy bye” when she boards the bus.  Having Ms. Denise as Gabby’s bus driver since being assigned to her elementary school has been an absolute joy.

Gabby is a student with epilepsy. Ms. Denise thoroughly read the information provided to her about Gabby and her condition.  This meant a lot to Gabby’s parents, and her attention to each child in her care means a lot to all the parents whose children ride her bus. Parents are always concerned that the adults entrusted with their children are comfortable and knowledgeable about how to meet the special health care needs of any child in their care. Ms. Lewis is well-trained to respond to the health care needs of Gabby.

Transportation staff sometimes underestimate the positive impact they have on students each day, especially children with special needs and special health care needs. Ms. Denise has been a great asset and role model to Gabby.  She is truly deserving of this award and Gabby’s parents want her to know how much she means to Gabby and her family.

Charles Mills, Math Teacher
Eleanor Roosevelt High School

Mr. Charles Mills is a math teacher at Eleanor Roosevelt High School. He is truly a wonderful teacher. Mr. Mills’ classrooms are an embodiment of the principles recommended in Universal Design for Learning. He structures the classroom so that all students have access to the materials, and he works to make the lessons accessible and fun for everyone. Furthermore, Mr. Mills is dedicated to ensuring that all his students learn the material he is teaching, and he does whatever it takes for each of his students to learn the material in the way they learn best. His patience with students whose disabilities sometimes interfere with their ability to demonstrate their understanding is commendable. He is a fantastic teacher, and a fantastic example of how to help all students to learn. We honor and celebrate Mr. Mills for his extraordinary service to his students, regardless of their abilities.

Emily Moore – Science Teacher
Eleanor Roosevelt High School

Ms. Emily Moore is a science teacher at Eleanor Roosevelt High School who teaches a very demanding forensic science class. Her love for her work is tangible, and she provides many opportunities for her students to learn about forensic science, to explore it in depth through hands-on learning activities, and she is constantly sharing new insights. Ms. Moore is competent, enthusiastic, thorough, thoughtful and flexible. This year, when one of her students was struggling with the social demands of group work in the classroom, as well as the executive functioning demands of large, long term projects, she worked closely with him to make sure he understood what was expected, and how to contribute productively. Ms. Moore coordinated with his parents and his organizational tutor so that it was possible for him to do his assignments. Her dedication to the success of all her students, and her support of students with disabilities was both remarkable and very sincerely appreciated. 

Mary Bell – Coordinating Supervisor
Special Education Department


On behalf of the Special Education Citizens’ Advisory Committee, PGCPS Staff, Parents, and Students, this award is presented to Mary Bell for her Extraordinary Support of Special Education in PGCPS.