Board Presents Service to Education Awards

October 18, 2007
Board of Education Presents 11th Annual Awards for Distinguished Service to Public Education

October 18 Ceremony Honors 17 Individuals and Organizations

The Montgomery County Board of Education will honor 17 individuals and organizations in the county during its 11th annual Awards for Distinguished Service to Public Education. The ceremony will take place on October 18 at 6:00 p.m. in the auditorium of the Carver Educational Services Center.

The Board established the awards to recognize and show appreciation for exemplary contributions to public education and to Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS).

Community Individual

Joan Donovan
Each year, kindergarten students attending the Extended Learning Opportunities Summer Adventures in Learning program in Title I schools are given instructional toolkits to aid them in their learning. These kits are provided by the Montgomery County Public Schools Retirees Association. Each toolkit includes items such as a calendar, ruler, crayons, magnetic letters, Play Doh, flashcards and a book, along with ideas for parents on how these items can be used to support instruction. In October 2006, after retired Montgomery County Public Schools teacher Joan Donovan learned that the retirees’ association could not continue to provide the kindergarten toolkits, she led an all-out effort to obtain funding for the toolkits.

As a result, Donovan received 296 donations from more than 33 states, for approximately 95 percent of the $15,000 raised. In addition, she obtained book bags and filled them full of donated books and school supplies for homeless students from non-Title I schools attending the program this year. Anyone who has watched the eyes of an incoming kindergartener light up at the sight of a toolkit realizes the impact these kits have on these students. Without Donovan, the kindergarten toolkit project would not have taken place this year.

Evelyn Liu
Evelyn Liu started out as a parent volunteer at Washington Grove Elementary School about five years ago. Even though her child moved on from elementary school a year later, she has continued to volunteer more than 500 hours a year at the school. Liu is driven, loyal to the school, an extremely hard worker, and always has a smile to share with teachers, staff, and students.

Liu helps teachers prepare materials for classroom use. She spends hours at Washington Grove’s media center essentially acting as an assistant by organizing, reshelving, and checking out books. She spends countless hours working on school-related projects with no expectation of anything in return. She just loves being part of the school and helping wherever she can. The children of Washington Grove Elementary School benefit from her desire to be part of their lives.

Karen Benn Marshall, Ph.D.
The Montgomery County Public Schools Elementary Science Student Inquiry Conference allows students to have an opportunity to think and act like scientists. Over the past few years, Dr. Karen Benn Marshall, professor and chair of the biology department at Montgomery College’s Takoma Park/Silver Spring campus, has volunteered her time and resources on behalf of the conference. Every May, she secures the rooms, as well as technical support and security, for the two-day conference. She works with her teaching staff to arrange and conduct a tour of the biology labs and workshop for the students. These lab tours are one of the students' favorite parts of the program.

The ultimate goal of the Elementary Science Student Inquiry Conference is to excite students about science and encourage them to explore studies and careers in science and technology. Having the elementary science conference at Montgomery College supports this goal, giving elementary students firsthand experience on a college campus and emphasizing the importance of higher education. Marshall's time and enthusiasm have helped make the MCPS elementary science program possible.

Community Group

Chinese American Parents and Students Association (CAPSA)
The Chinese American Parents and Students Association (CAPSA) was established in 1988 to assist new Chinese immigrants in adjusting to American society and to promote Chinese culture. CAPSA’s program serves more than 350 participants annually and has helped thousands of Montgomery County residents adjust to the community. CAPSA collects ideas, suggestions, and needs from its constituents and, if needed, represents them in addressing various educational issues. CAPSA also has actively promoted an awareness of Chinese culture and has provided decorations at Rockville Civic Center, displays at local libraries and schools, and activities at local malls and libraries celebrating festival events and early childhood development.

One of CAPSA's core programs is a free tutoring service for new immigrants and other students who could benefit. CAPSA recruits middle and high school students with good academic standing to meet with students every Saturday morning during the school year. During these sessions, the tutors help the students learn class material, as well as express and improve their English. Adult English classes are offered so parents can learn English at the same time their children are receiving instruction. Tutors improve their leadership and teaching abilities and, as a result, often choose to apply to be group coordinators or adult class teachers. The success of CAPSA comes from the dedication of its welcoming community of parents, volunteers, teachers, coordinators, and students.

Impact Silver Spring
IMPACT Silver Spring has established a well-deserved reputation for supporting and empowering all members of the community to work collaboratively across lines of race, class, and culture to address community issues. Incorporated in March 1999, IMPACT Silver Spring's work centers around four core program areas.

Community Empowerment, IMPACT's centerpiece leadership development training program, is offered to existing and emerging community leaders. To date, nearly 90 Silver Spring community members have participated in the training program. Lasting IMPACT is a continuing support network initiated by and for graduates of the training program to support continuing work on personal and community action plans. IMPACT in the Schools is committed to examining the impact of race, class, and culture on the growing achievement gap in the public schools. Growing out of the Study Circle initiative in 2001, it has implemented a pilot program at a local elementary school to bring minority and immigrant parents more fully into the public education reform process. Finally, Neighborhood IMPACT provides leadership development and diversity awareness training and support on a case-by-case basis. Neighborhood IMPACT has most recently worked with a group of citizens on the Long Branch Redevelopment Task Force in their quest to broaden participation among the community’s diverse voices.

Project Change
Project Change, through its signature program, "You Have The Power!" (YHTP!), a bullying prevention peer education program, has met critical needs within MCPS for student-driven learning and mentoring. Sherwood High School students developed YHTP! in 2005 in response to what they saw as a need in the school system for peer leadership in bullying prevention.

Through the program, teen mentors lead after-school sessions, helping younger students design and implement their choice of an anti-bullying event at their school. These events have included scripting, acting, and technical production of videos, followed by student-led discussions. Students have designed and produced a public service announcement. Elementary students have written and performed anti-bullying concepts at a schoolwide assembly. Mentored students have increased their awareness of their own and others' behaviors, and learned how to neutralize the negative effects of bullying.

YHTP! has been implemented at four MCPS schools and has been profiled on national television and in local media. Project Change teens have been invited to speak at local, state, national, and international conferences.


Jon Enten, Enten & Associates
Jon Enten has been an active member of the MCPS community for more than 30 years. He is on the board of directors of the MCPS Educational Foundation and CEO of Enten and Associates, his own marketing Company in Bethesda. In 1995, he helped develop a new teacher recruitment tape for Human Resources and then helped MCPS market it to all prospective new teachers, donating hundreds of hours of staff time and money to ensure its success. More than 2,500 copies of the tape were given to student teachers, thanks to his efforts.

Over the years, Enten has helped others in need and assisted MCPS through his many comprehensive marketing and communications programs. In a 2003 event, he raised money for scholarships for children of sniper victims. In 2006, he sponsored the MCPS retirement dinner and assisted in coordinating the activities for more than 500 retirees. At a fundraising dinner this past April, he helped raise more than $50,000 in scholarship money. Enten brings creativity and energy to all of his projects, and MCPS students have benefited from his efforts.

Riderwood Village Retirement Community
The Riderwood Scholars Fund was created by the Riderwood Village Retirement Community in Silver Spring to support exemplary student staff members at Riderwood as they continue their formal postsecondary education. Eligible students are offered up to $4,000 for college, trade, or vocational certificate programs. This year, the Riderwood community honored a record 51 area high school seniors with scholarships to support their pursuit of a college education. Twenty-four seniors from six MCPS high schools were awarded scholarships. In previous years, a total of $435,000 has been raised and more than 112 scholarships have been awarded.

The scholarship fund is a visible expression of the close bond that forms between Riderwood’s student employees and the residents they serve. The fund embodies the Riderwood community’s commitment to the mission of “sharing our gifts to create a community that celebrates life.” Just as the students do the utmost to provide a high-quality experience for the residents, so, too, do residents and other donors assist students in furthering their education.

Lockheed Martin Corporation
Lockheed Martin Corporation has established many school-to-career connections and working relationships with MCPS. For example, executive staff members are active participants in the Career Connections committee of the Montgomery County Business Roundtable for Education. Lockheed Martin helps the school system in its reform efforts by participating in strategic planning activities on the local National Academy of Information Technology and Engineering Cluster Advisory Boards. In collaboration with MCPS, the corporation provides opportunities for students to engage in high-quality, school-to-work experiences.

Lockheed Martin embodies the spirit of a cooperative partnership that is focused on results. In the past two years, student enrollment in the Engineering, Scientific Research, and Manufacturing Technology programs connected with Career and Technology Education has increased. Almost 18,000 students enrolled in Information Technologies program courses for the Fiscal Year 2006 school year. The Lockheed Martin staff commitment and dedication to increasing meaningful interactions with students in these programs is a major reason for the enrollment increase.

MCPS Staff

Aggie Alvez
As director of the Department of Communications, Aggie Alvez strives to increase meaningful two-way communication between families and the school system. As MCPS has become more diverse, Alvez has developed tools to enable parents and other community members to inform the school system of their children’s needs and to share cultural values. Her creativity has touched almost every piece of MCPS communication that reaches the public, including many parents for whom English is a second language. Using a multimedia approach, outreach to the African American, Asian American, and Latino stakeholders has been a key focus of her communication outreach efforts.

Alvez’ video productions have won the Aurora, Aegis, and Capital Regional Emmy awards. They have provided informational programming in multiple languages for parents and community members. The use of television and webcasts to broadcast meetings of the Board of Education has enabled community and staff to have a seat at the table from their computer or television. Alvez engages all stakeholders in meaningful two-way conversations about critical issues, valuing all voices and respecting all perspectives.

Dianne Jones
As the director of the MCPS Division of School Plant Operations, Dianne Jones is responsible for the operations and building services staff at 200 facilities. In this position, she has been a role model with a reputation as a professional and effective leader who is kind, innovative and fair. Making it her personal mission to be an environmental steward, in 2003, Jones embraced the idea of greening the school plant operations of MCPS. She has been unstoppable ever since, implementing several green building pilots.

What started as an initiative is now, in Fiscal Year 2008, a systemwide overhaul of how MCPS cleans and maintains schools and what products are used to do so. MCPS is now an established leader in the green cleaning field for schools. Emphasizing that the school system is in charge of many delicate immune systems—MCPS students—Jones has revamped how staff are trained in green cleaning procedures and products being used. Within its first year of piloting, the MCPS Green Cleaning Initiative won a national award. Jones is now answering requests from school districts throughout the metropolitan area.

Elaine Petrulakis
For more than 29 years, Elaine Petrulakis has dedicated her professional life to supporting success for all students. In administrative positions, most recently as administrative secretary at Shady Grove Middle School, she has assisted many school-based and central office administrators in providing programs and services necessary for student success and smooth operations.

What sets Petrulakis apart is her deep respect for and interest in others, especially students. Students sense this and are drawn to her, as are teachers. Throughout the day, Petrulakis works with students who serve as front office aides to ensure they know the importance of their roles and responsibilities. She displays an attitude that fosters student confidence and self-esteem. Numerous staff members refer to her as a "steady rock" whose knowledge, work ethic, and expertise serve as a calming force in the often hectic environment of middle school.

Petrulakis goes out of her way to welcome parents and make them comfortable. She was instrumental in helping organize a quarterly breakfast for the Latino parents. She worked with a Shady Grove parent to make sure that prerecorded messages in Spanish were sent to Spanish-speaking parents. The motto "Education Works Because We Do" describes Elaine Petrulakis' contribution to Montgomery County Public Schools.

Michael A. Thomas
Since joining the George B. Thomas, Sr. Learning Academy, Inc. (known as Saturday School) in February 2005 as the executive director, Michael Thomas has tackled his work with great enthusiasm, competence, and confidence. The mission of the program is to accelerate students' mastery of core academic subjects and to close the achievement gap. Thomas has successfully managed the growth of the Saturday School program from eight centers serving approximately 2,400 students in 2005 to 12 centers serving more than 3,500 students in 2007.

Because of the success of Saturday School, the County Council selected the academy to pilot two high school after-school programs to help students academically and to provide activities during the critical after-school time period. Under Thomas’ leadership, the academy was awarded the 2007 Excellence in Minority Achievement Award by the Maryland State Department of Education for increasing academic achievement among minority students and enhancing the appreciation of diversity among staff and students.

The academy has enhanced its parent training workshops, which have provided more than 2,400 parents with the information and skills they need to support their children's academic development at home. In 2005, Thomas played a key role in developing and implementing the George B. Thomas, Sr. Learning Academy, Inc./Verizon High Achievement Scholarship Program, which has awarded scholarships to 36 deserving seniors who have volunteered as tutors. Much of the credit for the success of the program goes to Thomas for his leadership and desire to continuously improve the quality of services provided.

School Service Volunteer

Aashish Dewan
While maintaining his grades as a student at Neelsville Middle School, Aashish Dewan volunteered his time and effort to help the school in many ways—from recycling and cleaning the environment to doing office work and raising money for the school. Dewan helped check out books, put newspapers on carts for students, recycle newspapers, arranged books in the media center, and assisted office staff. He assisted the Neelsville Good Knights with activities, including transporting suitcases from buses coming from the Outdoor Education event. He helped with Neelsville Day by operating games, giving out prizes and assisting the band department in fundraising activities for its trip to Hershey Park.

Now a ninth grader in Poolesville High School’s Science, Mathematics, Computer Science Magnet Program, Dewan has also assisted other schools in MCPS. He volunteered at the Daly Elementary School Spring Fair. He also worked with South Lake Elementary School’s Extended Learning Opportunities program, tutoring and reading to students, making copies, and providing assistance to teachers. Aashish Dewan’s efforts exemplify MCPS students’ respect for the culture of selfless giving and volunteering.

Rebecca (Becky) Faherty
Rebecca (Becky) Faherty showed up at Stedwick Elementary School one day more than three years ago and said, “I want to help children with reading.” Her own children were grown, and she had long been a Home and Hospital teacher. She was introduced to the second grade team, and they began choosing a group of up to three students with whom she could work with each morning. From the beginning, Faherty kept looking for ways to increase her work, always on her own initiative and never requesting anything more than a place to work.

A certified teacher, Faherty has contributed to the reading success of Stedwick students by providing supplemental reading instruction to struggling readers in second grade for the past three years. She has accomplished this by volunteering from two to three hours each school day, two days a week after school, and throughout the summer. Over time, she has recruited additional volunteers to work with her in order to serve more students. She now plans to expand on this success by offering to start programs in other elementary schools. Faherty’s contributions have had a large and measurable impact on the success of the students she includes in her program.

Paul Rockwell
Paul Rockwell first came to Glen Haven Elementary School through the Ruth Rales Comcast Kids Reading Network program in the 2005-2006 school year, volunteering two hours a week to lend support to a second grade student struggling with reading. After forming special bonds with many of the students, he requested an increase in his volunteer hours. In the 2006-2007 school year, he returned to Glen Haven, and by October, he was spending three full days each week at the school, helping second graders in the morning and working with his students from the previous year in the afternoon. Rockwell worked with students of varying abilities in many different subjects. Not only did he follow the lessons provided, but he also took the initiative to customize activities to reach each child, extending lessons for advanced learners and creating review sessions for struggling students.

On the few days he was not in the classroom, Rockwell would send an e-mail to the class, including a few personalized sentences for every single child. He would remind one student to practice math flashcards and the next student to finish the chapter in a book. Rockwell's commitment to students and caring attitude have provided added opportunities for Glen Haven students to learn.

Individual Pioneer

Dr. Gabriel Jacobs
Dr. Gabriel Jacobs taught at Four Corners and William Tyler Page elementary schools and subsequently was principal of both schools. Believing that the best way to learn a language was to speak it, he researched and publicized his ideas and received support to set up a program. In 1974, he recruited outstanding teachers and set up a multi-aged group of approximately 30 first, second, and third grade students in a French Immersion Program at Four Corners Elementary School. According to Iran Amim, immersion project specialist, Jacobs’ program was the first French Immersion Program in the United States.

Before establishing the program, Jacobs enhanced his own French speaking skills by periodically visiting and living in France. He also visited a similar program in Canada. After the program at Four Corners was initiated, he gave unstintingly of his time and resources to ensure its success. Jacobs worked closely with parents and staff, encouraging and facilitating innovation and holding staff meetings where every child's progress and needs were discussed. He encouraged and trained parent and community volunteers to assist with both the immersion program and the regular school program. In 1977, Four Corners Elementary School became a French Immersion Magnet School, drawing students from throughout Montgomery County.

In its 33 years in existence, the French Immersion Program has impacted the lives of thousands of students. Jacobs’ dedication carried over into his work as an administrator and is reflected in the diverse foreign language immersion programs offered in Montgomery County Public Schools today.

<<Back to browse