Andrew Niebler, a parent volunteer at Westland Middle School in Bethesda, has been named statewide winner of the eighth annual Maryland Parent Involvement Matters Award (PIMA), given by the Maryland State Department of Education.
Niebler developed the Westland Cares program, designed to help students and families in need gain stability by providing goods and services to them. The program also helps these families quickly feel welcome in the community. Westland Cares began as a holiday card-giving effort, but soon expanded to include a food and household item pantry, a holiday gift-giving and gift-wrapping program, scholarships for afterschool activities, book fair certificates and more.
“Andrew has never looked for a quick fix …it has always been about neighbors connecting with neighbors,” said Alison Serino, principal of Westland Middle. “A secondary gift of Andrew’s work with Westland Cares is the consciousness he has raised with other families. He calls on neighbors to help, and they do not disappoint.”
Niebler was one of 24 semifinalists for the award—one from each public school district in Maryland—and was selected as one of five finalists. He was announced as the winner at a ceremony held Friday night (June 5, 2015) at Martin’s West in Baltimore.
“Andrew Niebler saw a need, filled it, and then found new ways to improve that initiative,” said State Superintendent of Schools Lillian M. Lowery. “Strong parental involvement strengthens our classrooms and schools, and Andrew never stops working to make Westland Middle better for students and the community. His commitment inspires us all.”
PIMA is the nation’s first and only statewide award program of its kind, honoring parents and guardians for their critical work in schools throughout Maryland.
- MCPS: Dana Tofig, 301-279-3853, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Maryland State Department of Education: William Reinhard, 410-767-0486, email@example.com