The Montgomery County School Board recently honored 11 individuals and organizations at its annual Distinguished Service Awards ceremony. The Board established the awards to recognize and show appreciation for exemplary contributions to public education and to MCPS by community members, businesses, MCPS staff, and school volunteers.
Find out more about this year’s winners:
VSLaurent Mc Neary
Mr. Clarence McNeary is a Youth Development Specialist at Watkins Mill High School Wellness Center. Mr. McNeary has worked to provide positive youth development and services to more than 100 students each year, focusing on African American men. Mr. McNeary has implemented curriculum-based programs such as goal setting, leadership, sexual health, and black male empowerment. He was instrumental in the Student Ambassador Program which provided stipends for students to take a leadership role in raising awareness of food insecurity and vaccination clinics.
Ms. Catherine “Cate” Navarrete, a student at Walt Whitman High School, founded the Body Positive Alliance. This organization has grown from a handful of friends and classmates to a regional nonprofit with 13 chapters at public and private schools in the Washington, DC area. Ms. Navarette leads rich discussions and interactive lessons, organizes guest speakers and has established a social media presence. She does this while maintaining a rigorous course load and extracurricular activities. Ms. Navarette has turned her own recovery from eating disorders into a body-positive movement.
MCPS graduate Ms. Alexandra Robbins has dedicated herself to supporting MCPS staff and public education during the pandemic. In early 2021, when vaccine appointments were hard to come by, she began searching and booking appointments for MCPS teachers and school staff. The need was so great that she founded Adopt-a-Vax, a group that worked to “adopt” people and book vaccination appointments for them, primarily for educators and MCPS staff and their families. , then for low-income, black, Latino, and non-native members of the English-speaking community in Montgomery County.
Ja Foundation for hotels and restaurants
In 2018, the Foundation for Hospitality and Restaurant Management (FHRM) was a newly created foundation within MCPS. Dedicated hospitality leaders have joined the ranks of educational entity representatives and created a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization. With a mission to create opportunity in the hospitality industry, FHRM’s goal has been to attract future hospitality leaders and entrepreneurs, and to reduce and eliminate disparities in student learning.
Paisano’s Rockville, managed by Mr. Manny Chavez, holds several fundraisers each school year for elementary, middle, and high schools in Rockville. The restaurant is always looking for new and innovative ways to serve its community. The restaurant is in keeping with the climate of the county; Mr. Chavez is there when teachers need support or to give special thanks with gifts or discounts and to encourage students to get involved in their community. It’s no wonder Mr. Chavez and Paisano’s Rockville was nominated by four different people for this award.
SHaron Asro Faber
When ESOL and drama teacher Ms. Sharon Asro Faber began teaching at Watkins Mill High School in 2016, she created the first acting class designed for new immigrants – a student-friendly arts curriculum. a full year that students could take as elective credit. (s) toward graduation. The program grew from one section to three sections in its first year. As part of the school’s ESOL student journey to graduation, counselors are encouraged to place 9th and 10th grade ESOL students in its drama course for the social-emotional skills it provides. Imagination Stage says Ms. Faber is their “#1 partner” in the greater Washington, D.C. area, as she works with them to run weekly bilingual theater workshops with professional actors and teaching artists, making theater real even more available to her. emerging multilingual learners.
Pre-K-12 Health and Physical Education Supervisor Dr. Cara Grant has over 20 years of service serving students, families, and the community on numerous task forces, including Pride Alliance; Montgomery County Appointed ex-officio member of the Health Commission, Montgomery County Government Anti-Human Trafficking Committee; the Maryland Department of Education Health Professionals Learning Network; the MSDE PE Professional Learning Network; and the MSDE Adapted Physical Education Professional Network. She also played a pivotal role in developing county-wide initiatives including Be Well 365 and the Innovative Schools Wellness component, connecting organizations and fostering cross-working within the central office, as well as with government agencies and outside companies.
Mrs. Marney Jacobs, the administrative secretary at Ashburton Elementary School, is the go-to for administrative secretaries at MCPS. She leads quietly, often in the background, but largely directs the show. Ms. Jacobs has been an incredible partner to Ashburton staff and has extended her impact to other organizations within MCPS. She attends community events in Ashburton and Walter Johnson; she is an integral part of the Ashburton neighborhood and served as President of the PTA in Ashburton. She fostered strong relationships between Montgomery County School Board members and the school community and represented the voices of PTA, SEIU, and MCPS with clarity, passion, and commitment to students.
Mr. Matthew Kamins has dedicated more than 30 years of service to MCPS, as a school psychologist and as a supervisor of psychological services. His combination of content knowledge and commitment to students is unparalleled. Mr. Kamins has a positive, collaborative and problem-solving mindset with students, parents and guardians, staff members and administrators. He has an exceptional way of communicating and allaying parents’ concerns. He motivates his staff and other service professionals to take on new roles as consultants, mental health practitioners, and academic and behavioral intervention specialists.
Ms. Kristin Secan is a strong, passionate, child-centered leader who is leading the charge to elevate autism services within MCPS. She has been instrumental in expanding services for autistic students from a classroom serving students who have been significantly impacted by autism into a wide range of countywide services. Ms. Secan places students at the center of all decision-making and advocates high-quality educational experiences for all students. Under his leadership, Montgomery County Autism Services became internationally recognized and respected.
Retired MCPS teacher Mr. Daniel Evans has provided exceptional service and leadership to students for 33 years, the last eight of which have followed Mr. Evans’ retirement in 2014. He has served as a coach and moderator for the Richard Montgomery High School Mock Trial Team each year. , and the team has always succeeded at a highly competitive level. Mr. Evans would be the first to proudly acknowledge his team members’ love of competition, while developing an appreciation for the American justice system.