Gaining recognition for excellence

500 expected today at schools' ceremony for over 100 employees

May 09, 2001|By Laura Dreibelbis | Laura Dreibelbis,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

It's that time of year to honor excellence and service as the end of school draws near. The Howard County public school system has been busy recognizing employees at two receptions - one last week and the other today, complete with food, congratulations, speeches, flowers, plaques, pens, certificates and clocks.

About 500 people are expected to converge this afternoon at Jim Rouse Theatre for the Performing Arts at Wilde Lake High School in Columbia to recognize more than 100 employees for their exemplary work. Twelve employees will receive awards for excellence in the following categories: teaching school, home and hospital teaching, office professionals, assistants and custodian and grounds service.

School system spokeswoman Patti Caplan said recognition of the recipients reflects the hard work of their fellow employees.

"Each different group contributes to the overall success of the school system," Caplan said. "Recognizing them shows how much we value these groups."

Superintendent John R. O'Rourke has visited each recipient's school with flowers and congratulations in recent weeks. He and school board Chairwoman Jane B. Schuchardt will honor recipients and nominees.

Among today's honorees is John H. Green Jr., who has been excited since his visit with the superintendent. Green, one of three to be honored for excellence in custodial and grounds services, has been custodian at Thunder Hill Elementary for 25 years and is described as a very humble and unassuming man who helps everyone at the Columbia school.

"It really took me off my feet," Green said of his award. "It's like I'm up on cloud nine."

"He takes the time to offer encouragement and support in any way he can," school secretary Marianne Simonton said of Green.

In a notebook compiled for the nomination, fifth-grader Mark Molchaney wrote that although some adults usually don't notice kids, Green always does.

The First Year Educator award honors certified staff members in what is often described as their most challenging year in the profession. Brian Fuller, one of two recipients, changed careers and left lucrative work in sales and government contracting to pursue teaching because he wasn't satisfied.

"I wanted to wake up in the morning, look in the mirror and feel like I was making a difference," Fuller said.

He said that teaching was the right decision to make and that he loves working with kids and contributing to their growth and development. He attributes his success to the support, ideas and materials from the fifth-grade team at Swansfield Elementary in Columbia.

"It's really a teamwork award, not just an individual award," said Fuller, who treasures his portfolio of positive letters from children, colleagues and parents collected for his nomination.

The Howard County Teacher of the Year Award is part of the National Teacher of the Year program. This year's recipient, third-grade teacher Hillary Sandberg of Ilchester Elementary in Ellicott City, will represent Howard County in the state selection process.

Sandberg was called to "a problem at recess" where third-, fourth- and fifth-graders were gathered with faculty and O'Rourke to surprise her with the award.

"I was totally shocked," said Sandberg, adding she was so overwhelmed she couldn't speak. "I'm lucky I am able to do what I do every day and call it a job. Teaching is my passion and hobby."

At a separate ceremony May 2 at Wilde Lake Interfaith Center in Columbia, nearly 400 employees were honored for length of service to the school system.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.