Archive for May, 2013

Steve Dunkel, the New Director of Assessment, Research, and Technology

May 17, 2013

sdunkelMCPS welcomes Steve Dunkel to his new position as Director of Assessment, Research, and Technology. In this new role, Dunkel will manage the technology department, organize the division’s testing component, and supervise the network/computer infrastructure.

Dunkel is excited about his new role in technology for the schools because it’s clear why the job is important. He explains, “Students and teachers need these systems in place for lessons, research, and assessments.  This field allows me to work with a medium I enjoy – technology –in a forum I find rewarding – the schools.”

Dunkel plans to provide a practical approach to improving the school division’s network and information systems. He believes his ideas for the future will make everyone’s job a bit easier. He states, “It’s important to stay proactive in the technology field. Systems need to be updated and replaced regularly.” Because new technology is developed every day, Dunkel plans to keep current on innovative tools for our education system and implement new ideas into our current system.

Dunkel has been involved in technology as a career for the last four years. Before coming to MCPS as a computer technician 2 years ago, Dunkel taught history in Staunton, Virginia, and in the Cayman Islands. Originally from Flint, Michigan, Dunkel now resides in Deltaville, where he enjoys outdoor activities and sports and spending time with friends.  His parents, as well as his favorite sports teams, remain in Michigan. Although he doesn’t live close to his family, he enjoys spending time with them when he can. His brother holds a managerial job in Alabama, and his sister is a marketing student at Michigan State University.

Dunkel expresses his gratitude for the opportunity to be in his new position where he will surely bring positive growth and change to Middlesex County Public Schools. His new position begins on July 1, 2013.

Teachers of the Year

May 10, 2013

In celebration of National Teacher Appreciation Week, faculty and staff at each of the three Middlesex County schools honored Teachers of the Year. Candidates were nominated and finalists were selected by their colleagues at each school.

This is the second consecutive year that teachers have been awarded this distinction. The honor recognizes exemplary teaching service both in the classroom and within the school community and embodies teacher leadership and instructional innovation. This year’s selections represent the many highly skilled and dedicated professionals who serve Middlesex County’s children each day.

Patty Larson, Kindergarten, Middlesex Elementary School

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Ms. Larson proudly shared her beliefs about teaching saying, “If you love and care about your students, they will learn. I believe that when students know how much we care about them, they will try their best and exceed our expectations. I feel that every child counts each and everyday. We must invest our time in them now, so that our investment will blossom in the future. Children are a precious gift, and I love being there tohelp them grow, succeed, and develop a love of learning. When my students accomplish something we have been working on, you will find me wiping the tears from my eyes because I am a proud teacher. I am passionate when it comes to each child reaching his/her personal best. I feel that all children can learn, and I want to be their loudest cheerleader, encouraging and helping them to create that emotional attachment to learning for the rest of their lives.”

Elizabeth Sanders, Language Arts & History, St. Clare Walker Middle School


A native of Lancaster, Mrs. Sanders is completing her fourth year of teaching. She confidently says, “The most important thing I can offer my students is encouragement. I believe that every child is capable of being successful. They just need a little help finding the success in themselves.”

Mrs. Sanders earned a Bachelor of Science at James Madison University, a Master of Arts in Teaching also from JMU, and is working toward a Master of Education in Policy, Planning, and Leadership at The College of William and Mary.

Elizabeth currently resides in Lancaster with her husband Dan and their four-year-old Labrador Riggins.

Hugh Scanlan, English, Middlesex High School


A lifetime resident of West Point, Mr. Scanlan has taught English for over three decades. Mr. Scanlan says, “As an English teacher, I have always felt that I have three goals: to help my students become critical thinkers, to make them more competent writers, and to help them understand that true learning is only accomplished by testing their capabilities through trial-and–error development. To me, literature and  literary history are simply means to an end. They provide models for students to work within their gradual evolution as thinkers and writers.”

Mr. Scanlan earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Richmond. He and his wife, Charlotte, have been married for 43 years.

Learning About Life

May 7, 2013

In Mrs. Kelly Thomas’s class, students have been learning about life cycles, what hatches from an egg, and “new life” in spring. The MES art teacher, Ms. Dixie, brought eggs from her chickens and an incubator from Middlesex 4-H was used for the eggs’ development. Each day for 21 days, the students read how each chick was growing inside the egg’s shell.

cracked egg

To help the students visualize what they were reading about, they “candled” the eggs in front of a bright light to see what was happening inside. In the beginning, they saw the red veins and then a black dot as the chick began to grow. Later, they could only see the dark shadow inside the egg as the chicks took up more room allowing less light to pass through.

chick hatching

Currently, 15 chicks have hatched, one is pecking its way into the world, and 12 more are still developing. The students have been able to experience all phases of the development and hatching. Over the weekends, students have taken eggs home to baby sit, and a few students had the opportunity to share about their experiences on the radio at 99.1 in Gloucester.

kids with chicks

Innovative and demanding lessons such as this one enrich the education of all students, and it takes teachers such as Mrs. Thomas who are willing to go the extra mile to offer the enrichment in their classroom. Congratulations to her class on all their new babies!

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