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Champions for Children Honored on April 19

April 18, 2006
Awards Ceremony to Celebrate “The Real American Idols”:Teachers, Leaders, and Volunteers

The fourth annual Champions for Children Awards Gala will take place on Wednesday, April 19, 6:00 p.m. at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center. The gala is hosted by the Montgomery County Business Roundtable for Education (MCBRE).

Star power comes to Montgomery County with this year’s theme, “The Real American Idols: Teachers, Leaders, and Volunteers.” The celebration places a spotlight on the best and brightest of Montgomery County’s leaders in support of education. The highlight of the evening will be the announcement of the Montgomery County Teacher of the Year, chosen from among three Greenblatt Excellence in Teaching Award winners.

Participants in the ceremonies will include Jane Rudolph, chair of MCBRE; Dr. Jerry D. Weast, superintendent of schools; Douglas M. Duncan, county executive; Kendall Ehrlich, first lady of Maryland; U.S. Representative Chris Van Hollen; and other officials. A dance performance by students from the A. Mario Loiederman Magnet Middle School for Creative and Performing Arts will be featured. Master of ceremonies will be Todd McDermott, anchor at W*USA TV9.

Outstanding educators, volunteers, and community leaders who will be honored at the Champions for Children Gala are:

Greenblatt Veteran Teacher Awards
Robert Dahlin, Ridgeview Middle School

As Ridgeview’s general music teacher since 1997, Robert Dahlin is recognized for leading students to reach beyond their own expectations by setting the bar high. The school’s music groups—including band, orchestra, jazz ensemble, and chamber string ensemble—have consistently earned top scores in music competitions. Dahlin also has sought out opportunities for instrumental groups to perform in the community.

Catherine Ulicny, Paint Branch High School
Recognized as an outstanding master science teacher, Catherine Ulicny teaches AP biology, biotechnology, and biology at Paint Branch High School. She has inspired her biology students to take higher-level science courses, requiring the addition of a third AP biology course this year. A teacher at Paint Branch since 1999, Ulicny has been a major player in developing the High School Assessments and writing curriculum.

Karen Wendel, Brookhaven Elementary School
A math content coach at Brookhaven Elementary School since fall 2004, Karen Wendel is often a magnet for teachers, who gravitate to her for ideas on how to teach content and for materials to enhance instruction. Last year, the percentage of students meeting MSA standards increased dramatically in third, fourth, and fifth grade, where Wendel worked closely in planning with two first year teachers.

Greenblatt First Year Teacher Award
Alison Divens, Judith A. Resnik Elementary School

A special education resource teacher, Divens taught students with special needs in the extended school year program the summer after her college graduation. When school began last fall, she had organized the resource room and was ready with materials and strategies to support each student’s goals. Divens has shared with her students that she is a marathoner. They understand the hard work and discipline required, and can make the connection to what they must do to be successful.

Agnes Meyer Teacher of the Year
Kristy Fischer, Luxmanor Elementary School

A second grade teacher at Luxmanor Elementary, Kristy Fischer has been selected as this year’s Agnes Meyer Montgomery County winner by The Washington Post. Now in her fifth year of teaching, Fischer excels in motivating and educating her students. As PTA teacher liaison, she gives presentations on new county initiatives. She has worked with community members on projects that include disaster relief and organizing an auction to raise money for a playground accessible to students with disabilities.

Post Distinguished Educational Leadership Award
Jerrold Perlet, Sherwood Elementary School

Jerry Perlet, principal at Sherwood Elementary School for seven years, was honored by The Washington Post for his outstanding leadership skills, collaborative approach, connection with students, and commitment to student achievement. Perlet was instrumental in the systemwide development of the Baldrige Guided School Improvement Process in MCPS. He is known for his accessibility to both students and staff.

SEIU Local 500 Supporting Services Employee of the Year
Oliver Riggs, Jr., Springbrook High School

Oliver Riggs is Springbrook High School’s security team leader. His commitment to Springbrook students and staff, his excellent managerial and communication skills, and his abilities as a mentor earned him this year’s Supporting Services Award. Riggs, who also coaches the junior varsity basketball team, is a retired Montgomery County firefighter. Last year, the school’s graduating class honored him by asking him to be their graduation speaker.

Dr. Edward Shirley Award for Excellence in Educational Administration and Supervision
Robert Bastress, MCPS Leadership Development Team

Bob Bastress, director of the MCPS Administrative and Supervisory Professional Growth System, has played a key role in designing standards of performance for MCPS administrators. He led in creation of a Review Panel for principals and a handbook to establish administrative processes. Bastress was a principal for many years, most recently at Damascus High School. He is praised by colleagues for his strong leadership skills that communicate equity, honesty, and high expectations.

Volunteer Champion for Children
Stedwick Elementary School PTA

The Stedwick PTA Education Enrichment Program provides academic enrichment opportunities that benefit students of all ability levels. Volunteers share their expertise with other schools in the county through personal assistance and around the country via a series of “how-to” documents on the school’s Web site. “How to Motivate Participation” is one in a series that shares the successful techniques the parents have developed.

Business Champion for Children
Doubletree Hotel

The Doubletree Hotel in Rockville has worked in partnership with Farmland Elementary School since 1997. The relationship was initiated to address the needs of at-risk children at the school. Doubletree employees have been providing mentoring, outings, meals, and guidance to Farmland students for the past nine years. Employees meet at least twice a month with their young charges. Doubletree also sponsors the “Teaching Kids to Care” program, which allows students to select the recipients of a charitable donation.

Among the major sponsors of Champions for Children are W.M. Rickman Construction Company (Teacher of the Year), Adventist HealthCare (Dr. Edward Shirley Award), Comcast (Supporting Services Employee of the Year), Lockheed Martin (Volunteer Champion for Children), and Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce (Business Champion for Children). Prize donors include Dell (handheld PCs), Fitzgerald Automalls (car lease), IBM (laptops), and Marriott International (vacation club stays).

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