WHO: State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick and Comcast will honor Maryland parents in the company of their families, friends, supporters and invited guests.
WHAT: The first Comcast Parent Involvement Matters Awards will be presented in a special celebration recognizing parents from local jurisdictions across the state of Maryland. Six semi-finalists and one overall state winner will be named during the ceremony. The semi-finalists and state winner will be selected from the 23 local winners that were announced today.
The Comcast Parent Involvement Matters Awards is the first state-wide award program of its kind in the nation. A collaboration between the Maryland State Department of Education and Comcast, the award program recognizes parents, guardians and parent groups for their exceptional work in support of Maryland public education. Parents from across the state were nominated for demonstrating significant, positive impact on public education in their communities.
The state winner will be awarded a cash prize of $1,000, and the five remaining semi-finalists will receive $250 each, to further their efforts to positively impact their public school systems.
WHEN: 6 p.m., Thursday, April 17.
WHERE: Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts
801 Chase Street
Annapolis, MD 21401
List of the 23 local winners
Comcast Parent Involvement Matters Awards Program Local Honorees
Erin DeLong, Allegany County
Erin helped found the Allegany High School Academic Endowment Fund, an organization that raises money to support academic excellence and creativity in the classroom. As vice president of the Fund, Erin leads a number of projects that support the school, such as an annual Honors Reception to orient students and parents to the Honors and AP programs; College 101, an event for all area parents and students to learn about the college application process, financial aid, and more; and Celebrate Allegany, a major fundraising event that includes live music, student performances, and a silent auction.
Lisa Eliot, Anne Arundel County
Lisa is a steadfast supporter of the Anne Arundel County Public Schools who has been an involved parent leader in elementary, middle, and high school programs. Currently serving as president of the Arundel High School Parent Teacher Organization, Lisa volunteers in a number of ways and recruits other parents to do the same. She recently increased parent involvement and improved parent-school communication by forming and co-hosting a bimonthly "Coffee with the Principal" meeting.
Susana Barrios, Baltimore City
Susana is not only a dedicated volunteer who is at the school daily, she is an integral part of the Patterson Park Public Charter School community. A speaker of Spanish, Susana translates school documents for parents and translates during meetings, clubs, and other school gatherings. Because of her efforts, Spanish-speaking families can stay informed and involved in the school. As if that weren't enough, Susana coordinates a math club, volunteers in the classroom, chaperones field trips, and leads a Girl Scout Troup.
Judy Jefferson-LaFlame, Baltimore County
As the Pleasant Plains Elementary PTA President, Judy has worked closely with staff members and other parents to create a school that is committed to supporting parent involvement. She communicates often with other parents and encourages them to get involved, even going so far as to arrange babysitting for parents so that they can attend meetings. She has reached out to parents of English Language Learners and created a special Parents Night for them to meet and bond with each other. Judy also works with local businesses to provide incentives for parents to attend school functions.
Eileen Hudson, Calvert County
At Plum Point Middle School, Eileen makes a difference. She is at the school nearly every day to volunteer her help wherever it is needed. The short list of her activities includes helping teachers in the classroom, chaperoning field trips, assisting with book fairs, helping with year book sales, making copies and filing, and chaperoning dances.
School staff and students also treasure Eileen's enthusiasm and her random acts of kindness, such as baking and wrapping hundreds of cookies and leaving them in the staff workroom.
Kelli Nelson, Carroll County
Kelli is a tireless advocate for children with disabilities. She has designed workshops for parents, school personnel, and other professionals to help them better serve the needs of children with disabilities. She has also served on or chaired numerous county and state councils and committees and has testified before the legislature on matters concerning students with disabilities. A leading advocate for the Infants and Toddlers Program, Kelli has developed positive relationships with state and local policymakers who make decisions about funding.
Jesse Cloud, Cecil County
Jesse is such a regular presence at Thomson Estates Elementary that a new principal once thought he was a paid employee with excellence attendance! A parent leader at the school, Jesse helps to recruit, organize and orient other parent volunteers. He is also an active member of the School Improvement Team's Parent Involvement Committee. Jesse's volunteer activities are numerous, but he puts in a remarkable number of hours at the school supporting literacy projects that include a monthly book exchange, a Reading is Fundamental (RIF) program, and delivering books to classes in costume as "Tommy the Tiger."
Shellee Stine, Charles County
Shellee established and continues to lead the Parent Teacher Student Organization (PTSO) at North Point High School. While serving as president of the active and growing PTSO, Shellee also volunteers in the drama department regularly and organizes and participates in the staff appreciation events that are held throughout the year. Shellee has identified another priority-keeping teen drivers safe. She is currently working to establish a countywide committee to improve safety among teen drivers.
Michelle Nichols, Dorchester County
Michelle co-founded and continues to lead COGATE (Children On Guard Against The Enemy), a summer program that provides children a safe and fun place to learn. The program emphasizes academic learning as well as the prevention of tobacco, alcohol, and other substance abuse. The program has served over 600 children in the past 12 years.
Kathy Meagher, Frederick County
The Frederick County Career and Technology Center's Academy of Finance has a great ally in Kathy. She writes grants, raises funds, and supports marketing projects for the Academy and is a valued, active member of its Advisory Board. Kathy is also a great communicator who doesn't hesitate to promote the school's benefits to other parents in the community or to call the local newspaper with a story idea that highlights the school.
Crellin Corps of Discovery Parent Group, Garrett County
The Crellin Corps of Discovery Parent Group worked with students, community members, and school staff to obtain and restore the abandoned, polluted land behind Crellin Elementary School. On this site, the Crellin Corps of Discovery Parent Group created an Environmental Education Laboratory for the school that includes a trail, boardwalk over natural wetlands, and amphitheater. Another part of the project was creating a new, history themed playground. The Parent Group recruited 638 volunteers, arranged for childcare and meals for volunteers, organized supplies, materials and tools, and raised the necessary funds to build the school a new playground.
Susan Rattman, Harford County
Susan created the Educational Partnership Initiative for parents of students receiving special education services. Through a series of training sessions and events, parents gain knowledge, practice skills, and build self-confidence that will help them become equal partners with the school system and an effective advocate for their children. The program has been so successful in Harford County that it is being replicated in Cecil County.
Larry Walker, Howard County
Larry is an active parent committed to improving academic achievement for all students at Mt. Hebron High School. He was instrumental in developing and implementing a Saturday morning mentoring and homework session for African American males. Then he reached out to the Asian and Hispanic parent populations and helped them form parent groups. Larry has organized community-building activities, an educational field trip to New York City, and a student-produced African American Awareness Month assembly.
Robert Ortiz, Kent County
Robert is a consummate communicator and leader. He regularly corresponds with parents, maintains an e-newsletter on education, translates for Spanish-speaking families when needed, and speaks at community events as a school-community liaison. He also coordinates fundraisers, volunteers in the school, and works to get other parents involved. Under his leadership, the Garnett Elementary School PTA has set records for attendance.
Ralph Nelson, Montgomery County
Ralph is involved in his children's elementary and middle schools as well as the school system's Parent Advisory Committee. He has led a popular, prize-winning chess club and contributes to the PTA newsletter. Just one of his many projects is organizing and developing the student directories and parent guides for Cold Spring Elementary School and Cabin John Middle School, huge undertakings that involve countless hours with a database and hundreds of personal phone calls.
Annette Jackson-Jolly, Prince George's County
Annette is president of the Hyattsville Elementary School Parent Teacher Association. Under her leadership, the school's PTA has increased its membership and become more active and focused. Annette's recent accomplishments include organizing a successful letter-writing campaign to renovate the school's gym, leading the effort (with overwhelming parent support) to establish a policy requiring uniforms, and helping to establish an affordable after-school care program for parents with multiple children.
Karen Catron, Queen Anne's County
A professional aviator, Karen is the driving force behind the Grasonville Elementary Engineering Clubs. Wanting to share her passion for engineering, aeronautics, and the physical sciences, Karen worked with school staff and other volunteers to create Engineering Clubs for third, fourth, and fifth graders. Students in the clubs have since built a working theme park ride and a race car that would protect an egg during a crash scenario. Thanks to Karen's efforts, Grasonville Elementary students realize that science and math can be great fun!
Lynn Cullins, St. Mary's County
Lynn has spearheaded a number of projects at Dynard Elementary in support of students and families. For example, seeing a need for "latch-key" students to have access to safety information, she designed a Family Safety and Wellness communication program that reached out to over 400 families. As a School Improvement Team member, Lynn learned about the regression of reading skills over the summer. Her family business has since donated funds to purchase summer workbooks to support students' reading skills. Wherever there is a need, Lynn works to meet it.
Stephanie Kayhan, Somerset County
Stephanie co-chairs the Parent Teacher Organization at Princess Anne Elementary School, where she has worked to strengthen academic programs, support teacher morale, and motivate other parents to be involved. Stephanie's dynamic leadership has helped parents understand that their involvement does matter, that they do have good ideas, and that they can and should have a voice in the school.
Molly Groton, Talbot County
Molly has been active in Talbot County Public Schools for 12 years. She currently serves on the School Improvement Team at Easton High School, where she is a voice for parents. During the school's re-accreditation process, she spent a semester meeting with community businesses, elected officials, and parents so that she could truly represent their "voice" in school discussions. Molly has helped college-bound students and parents navigate the application and financial aid processes, and she is an integral part of Easton High School's thriving engineering, drama, and character programs.
Kristy Sollenberger, Washington County
On any given day, Kristy can be found at Bester Elementary School. She is both an active volunteer and a member of many decision-making task forces and committees. She has spent hours reading with children one-on-one, assisting with parent workshops and trainings, volunteering in the classroom and office, and working with community organizations to plan special events. Recently Kristy helped organize the Bester Boosters, a group of parents and community members engaged in fundraising activities.
Kathy Sterling, Wicomico County
Kathy is the new parent that made a difference at Pinehurst Elementary School. During her first year at the school, Kathy volunteered in her child's classroom, served as the school's representative to the superintendent, worked with the school's PTA, and encouraged other parents to get involved. Her leadership and advocacy have already led to security enhancements at the school.
Gary Williams, Worcester County
As president of the School Improvement Advisory Committee (SIAC) at Buckingham Elementary School, Gary was made aware of the school's budget request for a mobile, digital camera lab for students. Experienced with digital cameras, he offered to help the school acquire the equipment. Gary bid for and purchased cameras on e-bay, repaired previously non-functioning cameras, and then presented the cameras and peripherals to the school at a SIAC meeting. Thanks to Gary's initiative and ingenuity, Buckingham Elementary now has a digital camera lab that students can use to support their classroom projects.