Atholton Ptsa's Head Honored

Lasser Receives Friends Of Education Award For Efforts Including Organizing Orientation, Setting Up Sat Prep Classes

April 26, 2009|By John-John Williams IV | John-John Williams IV,john-john.williams@baltsun.com

Before she took over as principal of Atholton High School four years ago, Marcy Leonard knew Caryn Lasser's reputation as a hardworking, dedicated parent.

Since that time, Lasser, a second-year PTSA president at the school, has exceeded that reputation.

"She is the epitome of creating a parent organization that supports the mission of the school," Leonard said.

Now others are recognizing Lasser's contributions as well. On April 16, Lasser received the Friends of Education Award, awarded annually by the county school board.

The award was established to recognize those who have made "exemplary volunteer contributions in support of the school system's mission of excellence in teaching and learning," according to school board literature.

At the ceremony, Lasser said the distinction was humbling.

"It's been such an honor and privilege to work with people who know that a No. 1 ranking isn't good enough," she said.

In addition to Lasser, the school board recognized four other nominees: Sheila Bishoff, River Hill's PTSA president, for her efforts to enhance communication between the school and the community; Joseph Herr, the former county fire chief, for pioneering the Paramedic Pathways curriculum in schools; Mike Kerwin, who has worked with Burleigh Manor Middle Outdoor Education Program for the past 16 years; and Johnnie Nussbaum, the PTSA president at Glenelg High, who has helped support the school community.

"It's important that we recognize members of the community and businesses that work well with the school system," said the school board's chairman, Frank Aquino.

Lasser has been a champion for student achievement and safe schools, according to a news release issued by the school board. She has previously served on the PTA executive boards at Clarksville Middle and Pointers Run Elementary.

At Atholton, Lasser has been credited with reinventing the school's annual new student orientation. She was also responsible for organizing the school's first after-prom party two years ago. Most recently, she led an effort to offer a PTSA-sponsored SAT prep class at a reduced price so more students could participate.

Lasser began a series of events for parents and students called Community Connections, which included "Pizza with the Principal" and programs on topics such as the college application process, cybersafety, teaching parents to use an algebra calculator so they can help their children with homework, and High School Assessment preparation, Leonard said.

"These topics are of real interest and relevance to our parents," Leonard said.

Lasser has also taken an active role in Atholton's School Improvement Team. Through the group, Lasser is credited with increasing the participation of under-represented student groups in advanced-level classes. As a result, participation in AP courses increased by 2.9 percent for African-Americans and 6.1 percent for Hispanic students.

Aquino has been impressed with Lasser's work.

"She's been involved for an extended period of time and has shown an extensive commitment to the school system," Aquino said.

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