Larry Walker of Howard County has been named the first state-wide winner of the Comcast Parent Involvement Matters Awards program. State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick and Comcast Regional Senior Vice President Scott Allison made the announcement this evening at the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts.
Mr. Walker was selected from six semifinalists also announced at the award ceremony. Other semifinalists included Susana Barrios of Baltimore City, Kelli Nelson of Carroll County, Susan Rattman of Harford County, Annette Jackson-Jolly of Prince George's County, and Lynn Cullins of St. Mary's County. The semi-finalists were narrowed down from a list of 23 local winners announced last week.
"Larry Walker exemplifies the work of thousands of parents taking place in schools throughout our state," said Dr. Grasmick. "Parents, guardians and other volunteers have a clear impact on the success of our schools. We are excited to partner with Comcast to acknowledge the hard work of involved parents across Maryland."
Mr. Walker is an active parent committed to improving academic achievement at Mt. Hebron High School. As a member of the School Improvement Team, his focus is always on supporting academic success for all students. He has organized community building activities and educational field trips for students, and was instrumental in implementing a Saturday morning mentoring and homework session for African American males. While serving as president of the Parents of African American Students (PAAS), Mr. Walker reached out to the Asian and Hispanic parent populations and helped them form parent groups to work with the school's Parent Teacher Student Association.
The Comcast Parent Involvement Matters Awards is the nation's first state-wide award program of its kind. A collaboration between Comcast and the Maryland State Department of Education, the program recognizes parents and guardians for their exceptional support of public education. Parents were nominated for demonstrating significant, positive impact in their communities.
"Comcast is committed to building strong communities across the state of Maryland," Mr. Allison said. "By honoring these parents and their involvement in public education, we hope to encourage others to take an active role in contributing to their local schools."
The award program recognized parents who were nominated in five areas of parental involvement: Communication, Volunteering, Learning, Decision Making and Community Collaboration. The state-wide winner was awarded a cash prize of $1,000 and the five semi-finalists each received $250 to further their efforts to improve their public schools.
Comcast Parent Involvement Matters Awards Semifinalists
Susana Barrios, Baltimore City - Susana is not only a dedicated volunteer who is at the school daily, she is an integral part of the Patterson Park Public Charter School community. A speaker of Spanish, Susana translates school documents for parents and translates during meetings, clubs, and other school gatherings. Because of her efforts, Spanish-speaking families can stay informed and involved in the school. As if that weren't enough, Susana coordinates a math club, volunteers in the classroom, chaperones field trips, and leads a Girl Scout Troup.
Kelli Nelson, Carroll County - Kelli is a tireless advocate for children with disabilities. She has designed workshops for parents, school personnel, and other professionals to help them better serve the needs of children with disabilities. She has also served on or chaired numerous county and state councils and committees and has testified before the legislature on matters concerning students with disabilities. A leading advocate for the Infants and Toddlers Program, Kelli has developed positive relationships with policymakers who make decisions about funding.
Susan Rattman, Harford County - Susan created the Educational Partnership Initiative for parents of students receiving special education services. Through a series of training sessions and events, parents gain knowledge, practice skills, and build self-confidence that will help them become equal partners with the school system and an effective advocate for their children. The program has been so successful in Harford County that it is being replicated in Cecil County.
Annette Jackson-Jolly, Prince George's County - Annette is president of the Hyattsville Elementary School Parent Teacher Association. Under her leadership, the school's PTA has increased its membership and become more active and focused. Annette's recent accomplishments include organizing a successful letter-writing campaign to renovate the school's gym, leading the effort (with overwhelming parent support) to establish a policy requiring uniforms, and helping to establish an affordable after-school care program for parents with multiple children.
Lynn Cullins, St. Mary's County - Lynn has spearheaded a number of projects at Dynard Elementary in support of students and families. For example, seeing a need for "latch-key" students to have access to safety information, she designed a Family Safety and Wellness communication program that reached out to over 400 families. As a School Improvement Team member, Lynn learned about the regression of reading skills over the summer. Her family business has since donated funds to purchase summer workbooks to support students' reading skills. Wherever there is a need, Lynn works to meet it.
Headquartered in Philadelphia, Comcast Cable is a division of Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) (http://www.comcast.com), the nation's leading provider of entertainment, information and communications products and services. With 24.1 million cable customers, 13.2 million high-speed Internet customers and 4.6 million voice customers, Comcast is principally involved in the development, management and operation of broadband cable systems and in the delivery of programming content.
Comcast's Eastern Division serves almost 5.4 million customers along the New York to DC corridor, including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Washington, DC, Virginia and North Carolina. The Eastern Division also founded and manages CN8, The Comcast Network, one of the nation's largest and most honored regional 24-hour diversified television networks, seen by more than nine million homes on the East Coast. The Eastern Division employs approximately 18,000 people and is based in Oaks, Pennsylvania.