District Toasts Feb. Staff Spotlight Honorees

Karen Baughman


Conventional wisdom will tell you that the job of middle school In School Assignment (ISA) supervisor is a tough one. Harding Middle School’s Karen Baughman will tell you otherwise. She’s been doing the job at Harding for nearly 20 years with a smile on her face and a heart full of compassion. These, among other qualities, have earned Baughman the title of February Staff Spotlight honoree.

When students arrive in the morning for their day-long assignment in Baughman's room, the first thing she tells them is, “I’m here to help.” She sets a tone of cooperation and compassion for the students who have come to her room following a youthful misstep.

“They’re kids, they make mistakes,” she says. “I don’t want to see them back.” With that in mind she offers homework help and anything else they need.

Says Jinny Cahill, one of Baughman's nominators: “She truly cares about the students' well being, often providing them with a shoulder to cry on and offering advice and guidance.”

Adds Harding Assistant Principal Robin Beavers about Baughman's special touch with students: “She is kind but firm and everything comes from a place of love from her.”

She not only helps her students, but Baughman is known as the go-to person at Harding, ready to pitch in whenever she can. “We all turn to her for help,” said Baughman's other nominator, Mary Murray. “There’s not enough words to describe everything Karen does for our students and staff.”


West Shore Career-Tech Transition to Work students play an important role in helping the Lakewood High community run smoothly thanks to the tireless efforts of their teacher, Stephanie Severino. Severino's drive to keep her students engaged and learning despite their disabilities and her perennial positive attitude is why she is one our February Staff Spotlight honorees.

Severino, who joined the District in 1994, has been finding creative ways to build her students’ job and life skills since joining West Shore seven years ago. Her students’ main job is doing the laundry for the school, including the Culinary Arts program and custodial and Nutrition Services staff. In between, you can find her students doing a menagerie of tasks from stringing students’ temporary IDs to delivering mail to shredding. LHS staff members know that if they have a task that needs a lot of hands, they can call on Severino and her crew, including her classroom aides, whom she says she could not do without.

“Stephanie is constantly on the lookout for new ways in which her students can contribute to LHS and build their job skills,” said her nominator, West Shore Educational Coordinator Bill DiMascio. “Her room is a busy and a productive environment.”

One way she helps build skills is during her weekly Job Club class where they talk about teamwork, interviewing skills, and positive body language among other qualities. She takes pride in the progress her students make because she realizes how critical these skills are for success once her students graduate.

“There is such a need for them to learn these skills,” Severino said. 

Severino is willing to go the extra mile for her students. She admits to sometimes lying in bed at night trying to come up with a solution that will enable her students to be successful when the standard approach is not working. The answer could be as simple as bringing on old TV stand from home to help students measure string for the temp IDs.

While Severino's creative and caring teaching approach is evident, DiMascio says it’s her “superhuman patience and kindness” that sets her apart.

Volume 14, Issue 3, Posted 4:45 PM, 02.06.2018