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Gaithersburg High School Educator Wins MCPS Teacher of the Year


Melissa Porter Parks, English Language Development resource teacher at Gaithersburg High School, was named the 2024–2025 MCPS Teacher of the Year during a celebration at Carver Educational Services Center in Rockville on May 1.  She will now compete for Maryland Teacher of the Year.


Also during the annual Champions for Children event, Bruno Smith, building service manager at Mill Creek Towne Elementary School, was named Supporting Services Employee of the Year.

Porter Parks oversees more than 800 Emerging Multilingual Learners (EMLs), the largest English Language Development (ELD) department in MCPS. Her support and encouragement have made a difference in the graduation rate of EML students since 2018; that rate has increased from 33.3 percent to 60 percent in 2022. More students at Gaithersburg are also meeting college and career readiness goals, and accessing higher education opportunities. She organizes higher education financial aid information sessions for undocumented students and their families. She’s also involved in International Night, an event that helps students represent their cultures through song, dance, food and presentations. 

Porter Parks holds a master’s degree in teaching, and has completed the coursework for her doctorate in educational leadership from Drexel University.

“Melissa truly understands the big picture of how her guidance provides a comfortable space for teachers to develop and thrive. This thoughtful leadership is critical in creating a strong department able to provide an exemplary high school experience for our GHS multilingual learners,” wrote a team of ELD teachers and paraeducators. 

As Teacher of the Year, Porter Parks will receive a cash prize and a one-year car lease from Fitzgerald Auto Malls.

Porter Parks was one of four finalists for this year’s Teacher of the Year, along with Janie Earle, kindergarten teacher at Poolesville Elementary School; Carrie Kraynak, English Language Development teacher at Flower Hill Elementary School, and Morgan Patel, social studies teacher at Montgomery Blair High School.

Bruno Smith has worked for MCPS for seven years. Capable, considerate and trustworthy, Smith takes pride in his work, responds quickly to jobs that need to be handled and takes on the stresses of his job with a smile. He deals with issues calmly and professionally. He has a superhero-like ability to make a positive impact on students—regularly checking in with those who have difficult days, sometimes walking with them to calm down, having lunch with them or creating art with them. 


Several other MCPS staff members and community members were also recognized for excellence and commitment during the event. They were:

  •       Danielle Gover, chorus teacher at Westland Middle School, Rising Star Teacher of the Year
  •       Margarita Bohórquez, director of International Admissions and Enrollment, Dr. Edward Shirley Award for Excellence in Educational Administration and Supervision
  •       Farron Riggs, paraeducator and baseball coach at Rockville High School, R.A.I.S.E. Champion of the Year
  •       Montgomery County Police Chief Marcus Jones, Community Champion for Children