Maryland Parent Involvement Awards Program issues call for nominations

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The Maryland State Department of Education issued a call for nominations for the ninth annual Maryland Parent Involvement Matters Awards (PIMA). The unique awards program honors parents and others with legal responsibility for a child whose exemplary contributions to public education have led to improvements for Maryland’s public school children, teachers, schools, programs and/or policies.

Interim State Superintendent of Schools Jack R. Smith said that parents and guardians provide critical contributions to strengthen Maryland’s public schools.

“Volunteers lie at the heart of any school’s accomplishments. This awards program puts a spotlight on some amazing work by Maryland parents to strengthen student learning and the school community,” Dr. Smith said. “When I visit a great school, I know parents and guardians have worked collaboratively to make it a success.”

Andrew Niebler, last year’s winner, provides an outstanding example of the work that is taking place throughout Maryland. A volunteer at Westland Middle School in Montgomery County, he launched the Westland Cares program designed to help students and their families gain stability by providing goods and services to those in need. It began as a holiday card-giving effort, but quickly expanded to include a food and household item pantry, holiday gift giving and wrapping program, scholarships for after-school activities, and more.

The Maryland Parent Involvement Matters Awards remain the nation’s only statewide celebration of the critical work that parents provide our schools and classrooms. The awards program was developed to shine a spotlight on parents who have demonstrated significant involvement in the following areas: Communicating, Volunteering, Learning, Decision Making and Collaborating with Community. The program’s theme, “Choose Your Seat. Get Involved.,” illustrates the point that Maryland parents are involved in a wide range of activities to support their public schools and to encourage all parents to get involved whatever way they can.

The 2016 Maryland Parent Involvement Matters Award nominees must be parents or legal guardians of children attending Maryland public schools, and cannot be employees of MSDE or the Maryland public school system. Twenty-four semifinalists will be selected— one parent from each of the 23 Maryland counties and one from Baltimore City. Of the semifinalists, five finalists and one statewide winner will be named at an award celebration hosted by in the spring of 2016.

Nomination forms are currently available and can be downloaded at www.MarylandPublicSchools.org/pima. Nominations must be postmarked by Friday, January 29, 2016.