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Board of EducationDistinguished Service AwardsWinners → 2000

Distinguished Service Award Winners: 2000


Wanda Brown, Coordinator of Educational Services for PEPCO

She has worked tirelessly to engage various segments of the business community to bring training and experiences to programs for Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) students and staff. Beginning in 1995, as a member of the Board of Directors of the Montgomery Education Connection (MEC), Wanda Brown organized Future Scientists and Engineers of America (FSEA) clubs in three schools and engaged a dozen volunteers and more than fifty students in club activities. From 1996-98, while continuing to work with FSEA, Ms. Brown chaired MEC¡s Staff Development Committee and recruited 20-25 companies per year to conduct seminars for MCPS teachers to help them understand their role in developing a skilled workforce. Wanda Brown served as Chair of the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce¡s PARTNERS in Business and Education subcommittee. Under her leadership, partnerships grew tremendously! During 1999-2000, Ms. Brown served as president of MEC. Ms. Brown urged MEC to proactively support Superintendent Jerry Weast¡s Call to Action plan. For this coming year, while serving as immediate past president of MEC, Ms. Brown will serve as chairman of the S.T.A.R.S. (Students That Achieve Real Success) Committee. This committee engages business leaders and school faculty in activities that focus on helping students understand job and social behaviors of the workplace. The landscape of MCPS partnerships with the business community is richer because of the contributions, leadership, and dedication of Wanda Brown.

Elida Vargas-Carrasco

When she noticed that her son was doing poorly in elementary school in the Dominican Republic; she developed an intensive program that helped her son. When the family came to this country in 1991, Ms. Vargas-Carrasco¡s son, Jose Danilo, did well in school because she had high expectations. Eventually, he was awarded the Rhodes scholarship. Education 2000 is a program founded by Ms. Vargas-Carrasco that not only helped her son, but also now helps many of Montgomery County students. Education 2000 brings together students, parents, and the community to help Latino students. Key to the program¡s success is the model of intervention, which focuses on strategies that empower parents and students to make changes in their knowledge, attitude, and behaviors concerning problems that affect the students¡ education. Education 2000 identifies the problems leading to low academic achievement and (1) provides intensive training for students, parents, and school personnel, (2) helps create individualized plans of action for each student and parent, (3) holds group motivation sessions for students, (4) hosts college information preparatory workshops with intensive individual evaluative follow-ups, and (5) reinforces recognition of students¡ accomplishments through community participation. The program has been successful at Eastern Middle School, Gaithersburg Middle School, Zadok Magruder High School, Albert Einstein High School, and Gaithersburg High School. Last year, the program was added to Sligo Middle School. A total of 310 students participated in the program and 97 percent of them improved their Grade Point Averages from the time they started the program to its completion.

Community Individual

James and Linda Cafritz

Have contributed to Montgomery County Public Schools in many ways. Mr. Cafritz has served on the Education Foundation for the last four years. His involvement is extremely important in the two committees on which he serves General and Technology Grants and Scholarship Information. In this role, he helps screen numerous applications and grants. But, as important as Mr. Cafritz¡s involvement in the Education Foundation, it is for his behind the scenes recruiting of people and ideas and his genuine caring for those that are in need of assistance that wins him this important award. When the former Superintendent, Dr. Paul Vance, asked for financial help for a deserving disadvantaged student, Mr. and Mrs. Cafritz, without a moment's hesitation, agreed to help. Not only did they personally help the student, but also over time, became the loving family this student never had. They celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas together, and the student blew out birthday candles for the first time at her 21st birthday party given to her by Mrs. Cafritz. Because of the care, love, and attention of James and Linda Cafritz for this young person, the student recently said, "No one ever cared for me so much and Mr. C. will walk me down the aisle when I get married."

Michelle Turner

Is entering her third year as the Albert Einstein High School Cluster coordinator. Previously, she served in a variety of capacities over the years with the Glen Haven Elementary School, Sligo Middle School, and Albert Einstein High School PTSAs. Prior to becoming cluster coordinator, Mrs. Turner had been most active in her role as a community participant in the effort to ensure Glen Haven Elementary School¡s timely modernization. She has been an accessible and knowledgeable parent liaison between the Einstein Cluster¡s parents and the school system. For more then three years, she has spent countless hours lobbying the Board of Education and County Council on behalf of Glen Haven Elementary School. Mrs. Turner¡s calm and reassuring voice during this process was a vital part of the PTA¡s willingness to embrace the merger with Stephen Knolls School. Even though the proposed merger did not materialize, she still continues her role as liaison and will continue this role until the ribbon cutting on the new Glen Haven Elementary School in 2002. Though you would think that this lobbying would take all of Mrs. Turner¡s volunteer time, she still has found time to pay attention to the overcrowding at Sligo Middle School. Because of her involvement, she was able to persuade the County Council to include money both for reacquisition and renovation of the former Newport Junior High School. She also finds the time to be the mother of six children, five of whom attend Einstein Cluster schools and one who has just graduated!

Community Group

Benjamin Banneker Honors Math and Science Society (BBHMSS)

Is a non-profit organization focusing on enhancing academic achievement for minority students in the areas of mathematics and science. This outstanding program has served the students of Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) since 1989. There are four major programs in which BBHMSS accomplishes its contribution to the success for every student. Through its partnership with the United States Naval Academy, the Academy helps organize midshipmen volunteers in a tutorial program with MCPS students. While the focus of the tutorials is on math and science, the students learn leadership abilities and discipline. Through its partnership with MCPS and based on their shared vision, a mission, and goals, the organization receives monetary contributions as well as in-kind services for their meetings. MCPS is a vital resource that has enabled the society to provide an environment that is conducive to learning. The organization contributes to the success of each student with its Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) Preparatory Course. Over the past nine years, one third of Banneker¡s students have improved their average by 36 points on the verbal and math sections on the SAT. In Banneker¡s Economic Development and Enrichment Program, students learn that individual income does not determine individual outcome. This program equips students with tools necessary to make sound financial decisions and increase awareness of how money works. In summary, Banneker¡s program has provided a collaborative, comprehensive, culturally competent, accessible, and effective program that helps the children and their families thrive and succeed in the Montgomery County community.

The Hispanic Parents Committee at Albert Einstein High School

The committee, under the leadership of Hector Lazo, has worked to improve the academics of students since 1999. It has been successful in creating strong partnerships with the entire community in a variety of areas. The Saturday Academy, held every Saturday at Einstein, serves between 130-160 students in English, math, foreign language, and science. Parent volunteers and teachers meet on Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to noon to help students. Of the 95 ninth graders that attended the academy at least once, 54 students have signed up for the college guarantee program. This is a program established by the school and guarantees that all diploma program students, who sign a contract with Einstein and commit themselves, will be prepared for college. The Hispanic Parents Committee also (1) established a working telephone tree, (2) increased Hispanic community participation in school activities, (3) organized and delivered community information seminars on Summer Reading Initiative, College Tuition Assistance Seminars, and Graduation Requirements, and (4) hosted Hispanic College Fairs. The Committee¡s Parent Empowerment Seminars provide opportunities for students and parents to enhance their mental health and to improve personal performance. These seminars teach parents to motivate their students, improve personal awareness, and manage anger. They also provide computer training to students as well as to their parents and provide college campus tours. Because of The Hispanic Parents Committee, students, staff, and parents feel more comfortable in school and have been more involved in the decision-making process.

Individual Pioneer

Mary Ann Bowen

Has devoted much of her life in Montgomery County to being an activist in PTA. She has served in leadership capacities at every level -- her local schools, cluster, county, and state. Mary Ann Bowen has worked tirelessly as a unifying force in divided school communities to facilitate open dialogue within PTAs as well as between the PTA and the building administrators. Over the years, her guidance and counsel have been sought not only by PTA parents, but also by many administrators within Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS). She has served on countless committees, work groups, and task forces. No matter what the assignment, Mary Ann Bowen's goal and reason for doing the job has been to make MCPS a better and stronger school system for all of its children. Almost thirty years ago as the White Oak area was being built, a new housing development was assigned to Cannon Road Elementary School in Mary Ann's neighborhood. The PTA had become a closed group, not at all inclined to share the leadership with any newcomers. Compounding the problem was the fact that the new development was physically separated from the older community by natural barriers. Mary Ann saw a need and stepped into the void and filled it. She approached the PTA insiders and suggested that an outreach program was necessary. In just a year, the new community and existing school community became equal partners due to Mary Ann Bowen¡s intervention in conjunction with the principal. This example is one of many in which Mary Ann Bowen has brought communities and other groups together and garners the support of the many people with which she has worked and helped.

Lawrence Shulman

His vision, leadership, and hard work led to the founding of several separate, nonprofit educational foundations that involve various segments of the business community in Montgomery County Public Schools. The Montgomery County Students Construction Trades Foundation, Inc., founded in 1976, supports education in construction trades by providing the framework, financing, construction materials, and consultative services for students to build a residential dwelling each school year. In 1981, this project received an award from the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education as one of the ten outstanding vocational education programs in the nation. Montgomery County Students Automotive Trades Foundation, founded in 1977, supports education in the automotive trades. These students operate several Mini-Dealerships that recondition and sell used automobiles. Montgomery County Students Retail Trades Foundation, founded in 1980, supports the retail trades. Students learn to work in a retail facility in a local shopping center. The floral kiosk in Wheaton Plaza Regional Shopping Center was the first community-backed enterprise in the nation in which students operated a retail business in a shopping center during normal business hours. Montgomery Education Connection, Inc., founded in 1983, is composed of business and professional people and provides access to business resources for teachers in the school system to enhance educational programs and improve school-business cooperation and communication. In addition to these important foundations, Lawrence A. Shulman has found the time to chair numerous committees devoted to improving the quality of education for all of our students.

Dr. Richard Wilson

Has served Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) as Social Studies Coordinator for 26 years. Under Dr. Wilson¡s direction, social studies curricula were developed in response to the need for academic rigor and instruction targeted to the appropriate developmental characteristics of students. His multicultural perspective gives substantive attention to this crucial aspect of social studies. Dr. Wilson also led the development of MCPS¡s most successful Advanced Placement (A.P.) program. As a result of his efforts, over fifty percent of the AP courses taken in MCPS are in social studies. Many talented teachers in MCPS are here because of Dr. Wilson. He has encouraged their professional development and has nurtured their careers. Over fifty social studies teachers have won Fulbright and James Madison scholarships under his leadership. The MCPS social studies program has long been a model for the meaningful integration of technology into instruction. Every curriculum project Dr. Wilson supervises incorporates web resources and methodologies that are appropriate for development of student¡s skills. The social studies page on the MCPS web site, developed under his supervision, provides a wealth of resources closely related to MCPS social studies courses and has been a model for home pages for other subject areas. Recently, this site was named by national experts in social studies as one of the top ten sites to start social studies research. As a result of Dr. Wilson¡s sustained efforts, the MCPS social studies program has been dramatically strengthened and benefits every student who graduates from an MCPS high school.

MCPS Staff

Betty Collins

Principal of Galway Elementary School for the last five years, Collins has been an educator in Montgomery County for over twenty-five years. A graduate of Springbrook High School, Mrs. Collins began her career as a classroom teacher in Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS). The Galway Elementary School PTA leadership and school community summarized their feelings best when they described Betty Collins as the Most distinguished educator in Montgomery County and, therefore, she deserves this honor. Galway¡s community is not alone in holding Mrs. Collins in such high regard. Betty Collins is well known throughout the MCPS educational community among both teachers and administrators for her commitment and dedication to children. Mrs. Collins greatest asset is her deep belief in her students and their abilities. She looks at each and every child in her school as special, and she treats them as such. Betty Collins has served on many committees during her years of service with MCPS. Most recently, Mrs. Collins has been very involved with the Northeast Consortium (NEC) principals and planning the NEC kickoff this summer at Springbrook High School. Her input and commitment to her profession through her committee efforts are what make her such a visible and well-liked colleague throughout the county.

Sandy Shmookler

Is an untiring advocate for the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS). Where others see an impossible mountain to scale, she sees just another hill on her journey. Her contributions to the system during the past three years range from creating internships and classes for students to developing training opportunities for teachers. In addition, she has generated many financial contributions to the MCPS Educational Foundation. During the last decade, Sandy Shmookler has worked with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to gain support for science education at MCPS. During the past three years, the funds available have significantly increased because of her efforts. Projects are now available for teachers and students to intern at the National Institutes of Health, learn about environmental science through trips on the Chesapeake Bay, and explore programs supported by the Audubon Society. Sandy Shmookler initiated the MCPS partnership with John Hopkins University. This special relationship already has made free biotechnology classes available for teachers and students. Ms. Shmookler has been instrumental in creating a special masters degree program for teachers at the University of Maryland. In addition, she worked with the University¡s College of Engineering to create a special program for high school students. And, the list goes on. Sandy Shmookler is an exemplary employee by demonstrating her energy and optimism. MCPS is, indeed, fortunate to have such a tireless thinker and doer on its team.

Updated June 29, 2006 | Maintained by Web Services | Content Manager Glenda Rose