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May 22, 2009
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State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick

A few words from State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick

We have much to celebrate in Maryland as our school year comes to a close. The recent Comcast Parent Involvement Matters Awards presentation was wonderful, and one could have made a compelling case for any one of the 24 local winners to be named the statewide honoree. (See accompanying story.) Parents and other volunteers really make a difference in our schools.

But that was not all. We recently honored students, teachers, and administrators who led our state in service learning. It was a big group, all worthy of honor: 47 students were named Service Stars, recognized for extraordinary contributions to their communities through service-learning and for their leadership in promoting service among their peers. These students have gone beyond their district’s service-learning plan, giving hundreds, and in some cases, more than a thousand hours of service to their communities.

Those students have been supported by educators. Nine teachers were inducted as Service Learning Fellows for their ability to create exemplary service learning experiences for their students and provide expertise to their peers. Three principals of the year were honored for their ability to advocate and promote high quality service-learning. These building level administrators endorse service-learning and are vital to maintaining quality programs.

Our state’s educational programs have long taken students beyond the typical classroom. Maryland’s 13-year-old Service Learning program is one in which we have tremendous pride. Maryland remains the only State in the nation requiring a service learning component as part of its graduation requirements.

* * *

Another wonderful celebration surrounded this year’s Maryland’s annual Kids Helping Kids campaign. MSDE coordinates this program in conjunction with Harvest for the Hungry and the Maryland Food Bank and affiliate food banks throughout the state. Students raised 413,129 pounds and $56,557.09 for food banks statewide. All schools will be awarded book sets ranging from $300 - $1,500. A total of 571 schools participated.

Maryland students, teachers, and administrators came to MSDE last week to be recognized for their food collection efforts.

The Kids Helping Kids Campaign, now in its 19th year, is a three-week service learning project held during the fall. The campaign provides students with the opportunity to learn about hunger while collecting food for their local food bank. The food banks then distribute the food to children in need across the state.


May 27-28 – State Board Meeting, Baltimore

June 21 – July 31 – Maryland Summer Centers, Various Locations

In the News

Maryland Libraries Create Facetime ABC2 News, Baltimore

Graduation Rate Keeps Rising
Baltimore Sun

Tougher Standards May Produce More Graduates
ABC2 News, Baltimore

Decatur Middle School Is Recognized
Salisbury Daily Times

Allegany Princepal, Students Honored
Cumberland Times-News

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Wendy Panor of Queen Anne’s County this month was named statewide winner of the second 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 at a special ceremony held at Wilde Lake High School’s Jim Rouse Theater for the Performing Arts. 

Comcast Parent Involvement Matters Award winner Wendy Panor (left) is congratulated by State Superintendent Nancy Grasmick and Comcast Regional Senior Vice President Fred Graffam.

Comcast Parent Involvement Matters Award winner Wendy Panor (left) is congratulated by State Superintendent Nancy Grasmick and Comcast Regional Senior Vice President Fred Graffam.

By bringing a specialized, multi-sensory teaching-learning strategy found to be successful for language-deficient children—known as The Association Method—to Kennard Elementary School and Queen Anne’s County, Ms. Panor not only helped her own son with his language difficulties, but assisted many other children with speech disorders in the school system. In addition, she is an active volunteer in both the community and at the many events and activities held at Kennard Elementary and Centreville Middle Schools.

Ms. Panor 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 Ms. Panor, the other finalists were: 

  • Mark Lewis – Patapsco High School, Baltimore County Public Schools
  • James Carroll – Calvert Middle School, Calvert County Public Schools
  • Brian Barron – Myersville Elementary School, Frederick County Public Schools
  • Ann English – Rockville High School, Montgomery County Public Schools

“Wendy Panor personifies the hard work that takes place every day in our public schools,” Dr. Grasmick said.  “Parental involvement has been key in Maryland’s success and has allowed our schools to be ranked number one in the nation.  We are grateful to have Comcast as our partner in spotlighting the incredible achievements of these remarkable parents.”

“Comcast places an emphasis on community investments that foster learning and create the best opportunities for our youth,” said Graffam.  “Parental involvement, such as that demonstrated by this year’s honorees, is instrumental in building bright futures for young people across the state, and we hope this program will help inspire others to take an active stance in public education.”

In addition to the finalist and statewide winner announcements, Kristen Ruiz of Prince George’s County, was presented with the first ever JoAnne L. Carter Memorial Award in recognition of her
parental involvement and work at three Prince George’s County schools. 

This award was conceived in honor of JoAnne L. Carter, Deputy State Superintendent for the Maryland State Department of Education, who was lost to cancer on Feb. 25. 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.

Award finalists Brian Barron, James Carroll, Mark Lewis, Ann English, and Wendy Panor.

Award finalists Brian Barron, James Carroll, Mark Lewis, Ann English, and Wendy Panor.

The Comcast Parent Involvement Matters Awards is the nation’s first 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.

Other Comcast Parent Involvement Matters Award Semifinalists

  • Stephanie Turbin – Allegany County
  • Carolyn Fiume – Anne Arundel County
  • Tracie Martin – Baltimore City
  • Jemima Clark – Caroline County
  • Laurie Long – Carroll County
  • Kathy Ann Joseph – Cecil County
  • Kristina Gozzi – Charles County
  • Valerie Jordan – Dorchester County
  • Christine Brenneman – Garrett County
  • Mark Daghir – Harford County
  • Sandra Holt – Howard County
  • Kiki Jones – Kent County
  • Robert Wells - Somerset County
  • Maria Scott - St. Mary's County
  • Jenny Schmidt – Talbot County
  • Steven O’Farrell – Washington County
  • Ginny Steuart – Wicomico County
  • Marilyn James – Worcester County

Comcast Parent Involvement Matters Award
(May 8, 2009)
Queen Anne's County's Wendy Panor wins the Parent Involvement Matters Award at a gala celebration in Columbia. Comcast and the State Department of Education host the evening -- held at Columbia's Wilde Lake High School -- honoring and featuring proud parents from across Maryland.


The Social Security Administration this week presented George Albright III, M.D., the Chief Medical Advisor at the Maryland State Department of Education’s (MSDE) Disability Determination Services (DDS), and the DDS itself with Commissioner Citations for Excellence in Service.

Tbis is the highest award given by SSA. The presentation took place on Tuesday at the annual DDS Forum in Detroit, Michigan.

The Maryland DDS adjudicates claims filed by Maryland citizens for the SSA’s disability program. The DDS operates within MSDE’s Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS).

“The Maryland DDS provides an important public service to people in our State who oftentimes have very significant disabilities and resource needs while, at the same time, ensuring the fiscal integrity of the Social Security trust fund,” says Robert A. Burns, Assistant State Superintendent in Rehabilitation Services. “Dr. Albright’s leadership over the years has ensured that the medical records that accompany these claims receive a thorough, accurate and compassionate review. He is well-respected by medical and lay staff on a state as well as a national level.”

The second award recognizes the entire Maryland DDS’s commitment to customer service - accuracy, timeliness and productivity – while adjudicating disability claims. Each state operates a DDS in partnership with SSA. “Maryland has consistently been an outstanding example of a state agency that is committed to customer service. SSA recognizes the important role that the Maryland DDS plays in providing much needed relief to the most vulnerable citizens in the state of Maryland” says Laurie Watkins, the Regional Commissioner for the SSA Philadelphia Region.

DORS provides programs and services that promote the employment, economic self-sufficiency and independence of individuals with disabilities. DORS is a part of the Maryland State Department of Education. To find out more about DORS, visit


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