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Director of International Admissions Wins Edward Shirley Award

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Margarita Bohórquez, director of International Admissions and Enrollment (IAE), is this year’s winner of the Dr. Edward Shirley Award for Excellence in Educational Administration and Supervision.  

This prestigious award, given by the Montgomery County Association of Administrators and Principals (MCAAP), is presented annually to an administrator or supervisor who exemplifies outstanding leadership and accomplishments in purposeful leadership, instructional or systemwide leadership, human resources development, resource management, interpersonal skills, professional involvement, and community and stakeholder involvement. 

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Bohórquez’s MCPS career began in 1998 where she started as an ESOL teacher. She has spent the last 26 years serving families and students of English language learners in schools and central office. In 2017, she was appointed supervisor of IAE and, in 2023, she was appointed to her current position where her work continues to grow. This year, IAE is serving more than 4,000 students.

Bohórquez is known for her resourcefulness and passion for students and families who are navigating a new school system, and oftentimes, a new culture. She works tirelessly to ensure that international families have social and educational support to ensure academic success. Her partnership with state and county offices, and organizations has helped thousands of students and families have support that has been foundational in meeting students’ unique personal, cultural and educational needs. 

Her strong commitment to educational excellence, coupled with her dedication to serving the international student population and community, makes her an exceptional leader in MCPS. She is known for going above and beyond to support stakeholders within and beyond the school community. Her efforts to ensure uniform interpretation and evaluation of foreign transcripts demonstrates her commitment to academic achievement and stakeholder engagement. Additionally, she actively participates in professional activities and provides services to professional organizations across the Washington metropolitan area. 

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Bohórquez communicates in a respectful, effective and open manner. Her advocacy for children experiencing unstable housing is unmatched. Her intervention with crisis residency cases showcases her exceptional interpersonal, bilingual and culturally affirming skills. Due to her extensive experience and expertise working with multilingual learners, she supports other offices within MCPS. She is able to put into action her knowledge of students’ needs that welcomes them into the school and broader community. 

In welcoming and supporting newcomers, Bohórquez leads a diverse team of more than 50 mental health professionals, intake specialists, residency specialists, administrative staff, testing assessors and community navigators. She affirms their identity and facilitates cross-office collaboration. Her compassion and empathy for her team is evident in her open-door policy and their willingness to reach out to her at any time, for any reason. She not only shows this level of involvement to her team, but also to the MCPS community. She regularly attends family outreach events and families never doubt her commitment to them. 

As a result of her excellent resource management, Bohórquez communicates with families and stakeholders to ensure they can maximize use of the vast information available through IAE. She stays well-informed about financial policies and procedures to optimize available resources for international students and families. Recently arrived immigrants, refugees and dignitaries visit the Welcome Center to enroll for school, and seek resources relating to health insurance, legal services, employment, housing, clothing, food and care. Other counties and school systems ask to tour the Welcome Center where Bohórquez and her team share best practices. She brings in temporary part-time staff to address staffing shortages during peak enrollment seasons.  

Along with other award recipients, Bohórquez will be honored at the Champions for Children celebration on Wednesday, May 1 at Carver Educational Services Center in Rockville. She will also be recognized at MCAAP’s spring membership meeting on Thursday, May 16, and at the Summer Leadership Conference on Thursday, June 20.