Jeffrey Macris of Anne Arundel County has been named statewide winner of the third annual Comcast Parent Involvement Matters Awards program. State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick and Comcast Regional Senior Vice President Fred Graffam made the announcement this evening at a special ceremony held at Loch Raven High School in Towson, Maryland.
Macris led an effort to turn around two Annapolis area middle schools, even though he and his wife do not yet have a middle schooler among their five children. Under his leadership, the Annapolis Cluster Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) began by identifying three goals for the schools: bringing in world-class academic programs, establishing order and discipline, and providing high-quality teachers. Macris formed the Ad Hoc Group of Annapolis Parents, lobbied local officials and parents, and helped force changes that would help the schools reach the goals. Annapolis Middle is now an International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme school and Bates Middle is an Arts Magnet school offering both performing and visual arts programs. Macris also has been a dedicated Naval Officer for more than two decades and is currently serving as a professor of history at the U.S. Naval Academy.
Macris was selected from five finalists also announced at the award ceremony. The finalists were narrowed down from a list of 24 semifinalists announced in March. In addition to Mr. Macris, the other finalists were:
- Donna Hager - The Midtown Academy Public Charter School, Baltimore City
- Jay Wolf Schlossberg-Cohen - Cromwell Valley Elementary School, Baltimore County
- Sabine Harvey - Chestertown Middle School, Kent County
- Earle Barnes - Shady Grove Middle School, Montgomery County
“Jeffrey Macris exemplifies the critical work that parents undertake in Maryland public schools every day,” Dr. Grasmick said. “Strong parental involvement has transformed classrooms across our state and has led our schools to be ranked number one in the nation for two consecutive years. We are grateful to have Comcast as our partner in spotlighting the amazing achievements of these remarkable parents.”
“Comcast is dedicated to helping build strong, healthy communities in which our youth are provided opportunities to achieve their full potential,” said Graffam. “Parents play an instrumental role in preparing our children for future success, and we’re pleased to work with the Maryland State Department of Education again this year to recognize them for their dedication and inspiration to others.”
In addition to the finalist and statewide winner announcements, Julie Chapman of Charles County, was presented with the JoAnne L. Carter Memorial Award in recognition of her parental involvement and work in Charles County schools. This award was conceived in honor of JoAnne L. Carter, Deputy State Superintendent for the Maryland State Department of Education, who lost her battle with cancer on February 25, 2009. Ms. Carter was dedicated to providing the very best education to all children. A parent herself, she also was a staunch advocate for parental involvement in education and was intimately involved with the Comcast Parent Involvement Matters Awards in its first year. The JoAnne L. Carter Memorial Award will be given annually to a parent that exemplifies all that she held dear.
The Comcast Parent Involvement Matters Awards is the nation’s first and only statewide 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 across five areas of parental involvement: Communication, Volunteering, Learning, Decision Making and Community Collaboration. The statewide winner was awarded a cash prize of $1,000 and the four remaining finalists each received $250 to further their efforts to improve their public schools.
Comcast Parent Involvement Matters Awards Semifinalists
John Holt - Parkside Elementary School, Allegany County Public Schools
Parkside Elementary School has a shiny new playground thanks in large part to the tireless efforts of John Holt. He spearheaded the fundraising campaign, helped coordinate the design work, and even hauled and stored the bricks needed for construction. In addition, Mr. Holt initiated the Derby Days event, bringing together the school and the community in a mid-winter program spotlighting the Boy Scouts.
Jeffrey Macris -Annapolis Middle School & Bates Middle Schools, Anne Arundel County Public Schools
A dedicated Naval Officer for more than two decades, currently serving as a professor of history at the U.S. Naval Academy, Jeff Macris understands the power of citizens united. He has led an effort to turn around two Annapolis area middle schools, even though he and his wife don’t yet have a middle schooler among their five children. He served as a leader of both formal and informal groups that have helped strengthen Annapolis and Bates Middle Schools, bringing the renowned International Baccalaureate Program to Annapolis and an Arts Magnet Program to Bates.
Donna Hager - The Midtown Academy, Baltimore City Public School System
Not only is Donna Hager a founder of The Midtown Academy Public Charter School in Baltimore City, she is the heart and soul of the school. She has served in every capacity possible from helping to develop the financial, academic, and cultural foundations to maintaining a critical presence in the daily operations and lives of those attending. She is a particularly welcomed resource to parents, who rely on her expertise and experience to continue the course of the school’s mission.
Jay Wolf Schlossberg-Cohen - Cromwell Valley Elementary School, Baltimore County Public Schools
Everyone is an artist, according to Jay Wolf Schlossberg-Cohen, and he has brought that philosophy to his volunteer work at Cromwell Valley Elementary Regional Magnet School of Technology. Mr. Schlossberg-Cohen, an artist himself, encourages children to use their own creativity to spur learning. He led a school-wide project “A Portrait of Cromwell,” which involved workshops for students, siblings, parents, and teachers that encompassed art as well as technology, cultural diversity, and green school initiatives.
Brian Dolan - Beach Elementary School, Calvert County Public Schools
Beach Elementary School in Calvert County has never shined brighter since Brian Dolan took it upon himself to improve the parking and lighting around the school. Since then, he has been instrumental in ensuring the school’s facilities and grounds are improved and maintained, including the Wetlands Mural that Mr. Dolan spearheaded to improve the cafeteria environment, as well as provide a learning element.
Carol Cruikshank - Ridgely Elementary School, Caroline County Public Schools
Ask any educator: administrative tasks—while important—can take away from important work at a school. This is where Carol Cruikshank has been an key asset to Ridgely Elementary School, spending at least seven hours each week helping keep track of activity in the schools Positive Behavior Intervention Strategies (PBIS) program. She does this for 24 classes—512 students—and 57 staff members. Last year she collected more than 13,000 pieces of data.
Laura Graf - New Windsor Middle School, Carroll County Public Schools
Laura Graf keeps the students at New Windsor Middle School dancing. She has coordinated the monthly school dances for three years, purchasing the snacks, preparing the program, and gathered parent volunteers. In addition, Ms. Graf volunteers throughout the school.
Tara Price - Bay View Elementary School, Cecil County Public Schools
There is very little work at Bay View Elementary that doesn’t have Tara Price’s fingerprints on it. Ms. Price has become part of the fabric of the school, working as a member of the Alliance of Students, Teachers, and Parents organization, the Bay View School Improvement Team, and the Bay View Parents Club. She also volunteers in the classroom, helps run the School Store, and is a Homeroom parent.
Julie Chapman - Dr. Thomas L. Higdon Elementary School, & Piccowaxen Middle School, Charles County Public Schools
Julie Chapman’s fifteen years of involvement has spanned elementary, middle and high school in Charles County. She has served as PTA president, spearheaded fundraisers to raise money for school equipment and volunteered for countless activities both in and out of school, such as the Girl Scouts, 4-H Club, Future Educators of America, Future Teachers/Leaders of America, and so much more. However, it is Ms. Chapman’s truly outstanding and unwavering support of every child in the community, whom she treats as her very own in any circumstance, that makes her such a treasure.
Gary Mills - Cambridge-South Dorchester High School, Dorchester County Public Schools
There isn’t a sports event at Cambridge-South Dorchester in Dorchester County taking place where you do not see Gary Mills, President of the school’s Sports Boosters organization. From his infamous breakfast sandwiches to his dedication to making every team a priority, he has helped provide activities and opportunities to the hundreds of students who depend on athletics to keep them on the right track.
Janice Spiegel - Frederick County Public Schools
While Janice Spiegel’s vision for education is focused on the classroom, it encompasses every classroom in the Frederick County Public School System. Frederick is the only county to limit class size, as well as limit housing development if school enrollment cannot accommodate additional students, a policy spearheaded by the efforts of Ms. Spiegel. Her drive and advocacy has ensured that every child and family has a voice and receives a quality educational experience.
Emily Friend - Friendsville Elementary School, Garrett County Public Schools
When you see a child in Garrett County smile, thank Emily Friend. Ms. Friend has worked for more than 10 years with the Garrett County Health Department of organize and administer the Fluoride Mouth Rinse Program at Friendsville Elementary, ordering and apportioning the fluoride, as well as guiding children through their weekly rinse. She also is an active volunteer in various school projects.
Amanda Shaffer - Havre de Grace Middle School, Harford County Public Schools
Amanda Shaffer takes sweat equity beyond the spring day it is held at Havre de Grace Middle School in Harford County, which helps to raise Beautification Grant money for the school. She has also organized activities and events large and small including the All-Pro Dads Breakfast, the Harlem Wizards Basketball Game, an Internet Safety Night, a Movie Night, and the Mixed Bag Fundraiser, just to name a few. Collectively she has brought the school and greater community together to support the staff and students at the school.
Kayle Simon - Atholton High School, Howard County Public Schools
Kayle Simon’s graphic design and technical skills helped her transform the PTSA website and newsletter for Atholton High School in Howard County and created a new way that funds could be donated in support of PTSA activities such as an after-prom party and staff appreciation lunches. Because of her involvement, the entire community has become more connected and engaged in the school.
Sabine Harvey – Chestertown Middle School, Kent County Public Schools
Sabine Harvey’s vision of what a school should be has created the common thread that ties the parents and students to the teachers and staff of the Chestertown Middle School community in Kent County. Through communication strategies and innovative activities and events, the family to school partnership has grown both in number and strength due to her efforts, including Bring Your Family to School Week, Pi Night, Father’s Spaghetti Dinner, Community Yard Sale, Junk Box Wars, and Victory Garden Project.
Earle Barnes - Shady Grove Middle School, Montgomery County Public Schools
As leader of the SWAG (Students With Attainable Goals) group, Earle Barnes has shown many of his at-risk middle school boys that with the right attitude, they can achieve great things. Through individual mentoring and group discussions, which have included etiquette, anger management, substance abuse, and respect, Mr. Barnes has helped turn these young boys around to forge a positive path toward manhood.
Eileen Collins - Laurel Elementary School, Prince George's County Public Schools
Eileen Collins has brought play to Laurel Park Elementary School in a big way through a $97,000 fundraising effort to build a state-of-the-art playground not just for the school, but the entire community. In 2009, Laurel was designated a Playful City USA by the non-profit organization KaBOOM!
Whitney Covington - Sudlersville Elementary School, Queen Anne's County Public Schools
Teachers at Sudlersville Elementary talk about Whitney Covington’s leadership, communication abilities and energy, all of which have led to great opportunities for students. Ms. Covington helped launch a Sister School Initiative with a poverty stricken school in Mexico, was instrumental in the school’s first Multicultural Fair, and set up a Student Environmental Leadership Council.
Rachel Feddersen - Greenview Knolls Elementary School, Saint Mary's County Public Schools
Not only is the landscape around Greenview Knolls Elementary School a more attractive place due to Rachel Feddersen’s Green Up Greenview Knolls program, but students and staff alike have seen transformation happen in classrooms and hallways. This is because Ms. Feddersen’s “let me try” attitude goes a long way toward getting students to cooperate and staff to focus on what is important: student learning.
Sue Hahn - Greenwood Elementary School, Somerset County Public Schools
Sue Hahn is known throughout the Greenwood Elementary School community for bringing others together to get things done. In addition to her efforts as a member of the Parent Involvement Committee and School Improvement Team, her service as PTO Treasurer, and her volunteering at school events, and fundraisers, Ms. Hahn has been able to help students and the community cope with challenging times through her horse farm and a variety of self-esteem and leadership building programs.
Sharon Rieck - St. Michael’s Elementary School, Talbot County Public Schools
In addition to being the Team Manager for St. Michael’s Elementary School’s Destination Imagination program, Sharon Rieck has also served on the School Improvement Team and Citizens Advisory Committee and as PTA treasurer, raising funds to provide for a student courtyard for outdoor learning programs.
Tina Carrazco - Hickory Elementary School, Washington County Public Schools
Parent involvement has helped turn this small Title I school into a National Blue Ribbon School, and Tina Carrazco embodies that cooperative spirit. In addition to her role as PTA president, she has helped raise funds when needed, volunteered in the classroom, and has put her bilingual skills to work as an interpreter to help Spanish-speaking families.
Lori Gilliss - Glen Avenue School, Wicomico County Public Schools
At Glen Avenue Elementary School, Lori Gillis is a true team player. If a fundraiser is needed, Ms. Gillis digs right in. She organizes and runs the PTA meetings, and spends a considerable amount of time helping out in the classroom—all while holding down a full-time job.
April Adams - Pocomoke Middle School, Worcester County Public Schools
April Adams’ community-building and fundraising efforts at both Pokomoke Middle School and for the Worchester County Council of PTAs have created countless opportunities for families and the surrounding community to come together to support education. April’s attention to detail and ability to collaborate have inspired many to become more involved in education.