Young, Stackhouse, Taffo chosen as annual PTSA Bell Award winners

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Shinel Mullings

Social studies teacher Sandy Young, one of the 2016 PTSA Bell Award recipients

Sarah Elbeshbishi and Ashleigh Kozo

PTSA’s Bell Award, the most prestigious award given each year to members of the Watkins Mill Staff, was given to social studies teacher Sandy Young, counseling secretary Ana Taffo, and ESOL teacher Mary Stackhouse on May 26.

The Watkins Mill PTSA established the Bell Award program in 1993.  The name “Bell Award” was chosen after the decision was made to present an engraved school bell as a gift.  The award pays tribute to members of our faculty and staff, recipients are chosen based on the contributions to the school and the students.

The Bell Award “is a well-deserved honor, recognizing all that each of these staff members have done for the students of Watkins Mill,” principal Carol Goddard said. The Bell Award is based on nominations from staff, students, and parents within the community and then chosen by a PTSA committee.

In early spring, the PTSA sends out emails and announcements calling for nominations with a usual deadline of April 30. Emails are received by the Bell Award chair, Martha Crews, and letters are turned in to the PTSA mailbox. The Watkins Mill PTSA Bell Award committee then meets and reviews the nominations, selecting one to three nominees.     

The Bell Award is important to the PTSA and is incredibly “special because anyone can nominate a staff member, and some of the letters we receive are incredibly moving. Our faculty members are changing lives, and this is our small way of honoring them,” PTSA president Susan Young said.

Some nominees are completely clueless about who nominated them, while others know for sure. “I think it might have been Ms. Van Buskirk, the ESOL resource teacher,” Stackhouse said. “ I saw the letter that she wrote in nomination and [the letters] she had students write.

Whether the nominees knew about their nominations or not, all three teachers were shocked and excited to be selected for this award. “I do what I do because I like it. I don’t expect anything ever,” Taffo said. “I’m really happy about getting [the Bell Award].”

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