Baltimore County recognizes achievements by and for people with disabilities

Baltimore CountyAt Wednesday’s 27th annual Baltimore County Commission on Disabilities Awards ceremony, an enthusiastic crowd helped to recognize the achievements of eleven individuals, employers, advocates and organizations for their outstanding achievements and contributions.

The Commission on Disabilities provides support and advocacy for County residents with disabilities and works to ensure that County programs, buildings and services are open equally to all persons, regardless of their disabilities.  In addition, the Commission provides resources and referrals on obtaining services not only from the County but through programs offered by the state and federal government.

“Healthy communities thrive because they have people who care, who get involved and who look out for the needs of their neighbors,” said Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. “We are pleased to recognize the efforts of some remarkable people living with disabilities in our communities and the people who help them in their journey.”

This year’s honorees include:

  • Jessica Solomon of Goucher College, winner of the Education Advocate of the Year Award;
  • Kayla Burroughs of Rosedale, winner of the Student of the Year Award;
  • Patricia Lane-Forster of Essex, winner of the Teacher of the Year Award;
  • Amy Smolenski on behalf of PDP Group of Hunt Valley, winner of the Employer of the Year Award;
  • Crystal Brockington of Towson, winner of the Employee of the Year Award;
  • Biliana Borimetchkova of Timonium, winner of the Art Accessibility Award;
  • Mat Rice of Towson, winner of the Statewide Advocate for Change Award;
  • Jennifer Hobbs, Pathfinders for Autism, winner of the Media-Public Awareness Award;
  • George Bollock of Fallston, winner of the Volunteer Award;
  • Richard Gnibus of Middle River, winner of the Disability Advocate Award;
  • Wanda Brown of Dulaney High School, winner of the Chairperson’s Special Award.

A few interesting stories…

Patricia Lane-Forster is an art teacher at Ridge Ruxton High School who serves students who are severely disabled, both intellectually and physically. She finds ways to adapt art projects so that students can complete the work independently, regardless of their ability. For example, she has developed methods through which nonverbal students can communicate color, texture and style preferences. For students with limited mobility, she incorporates robotics into the art class so that every student can make a mark on paper or canvas with the touch of a button.

Mat Rice, an individual with disabilities, has been at the forefront of self-advocacy in the legislature and in teaching other individuals with disabilities about how to advocate for themselves. Rice graduated from the Maryland School for the Blind and Parkville High School and went on to work as the Public Policy Specialist for People on the Go of Maryland. He has been instrumental in advising legislators on issues that affect the quality of life for people with disabilities in Maryland.

George Bollock has been a volunteer with the Oriole Advocates since 1991. He became a chairperson and “cheerleader” for a program known as the Challenger Baseball League, in 2010. The Challenger Baseball Program offers a variety of adapted baseball opportunities for athletes with disabilities. Bullock has provided more than 800 tickets each year for the athletes and their families to enjoy a game at Camden Yards during “Challenger Night.”

Wanda Brown, who teaches an engineering class at Dulaney High School, has led her engineering students through a standard engineering design process to create what is known as “chariot” for a young boy named Chandler who has Cerebral Palsy. The “chariot” is essentially a wheelchair bicycle hybrid that helps him exercise his limbs while being pushed outside in the neighborhood by his parents. This is just the most recent of eight projects for children with disabilities that Dulaney High’s engineering class has completed under Brown’s leadership.

Slice, Mission BBQ, Liberatore’s win big at ‘Stars of the Industry Gala’

RAM Stars of the Industry 2017The Restaurant Association of Maryland held its annual “Stars of the Industry Gala” on Sunday, and a few restaurants with locations in the Nottingham area won big.

This year’s winners were:

Maryland’s Favorite New Restaurant: Slice – New York Pizza (Slice on The Avenue)

Craft Brew Program of the Year, Presented by Evolution Craft Brewing Company: The White Oak Tavern

Wine & Beverage Program of the Year: DRY 85

Maryland’s Favorite Restaurant: Mission BBQ

Maryland’s Favorite Bar or Tavern: Harborside Bar and Grill

Maryland’s Heart of the Industry: Garret Hadel of Jimmy’s Famous Seafood

Maryland’s Chef of the Year, Presented by Oracle: Brigitte Bledsoe of Miss Shirley’s Cafe

RAM Allied Member of the Year: Business and Commercial Ventures represented by: Jerry Blumenthal

Restaurateur of the Year, Presented by the Maryland Restaurant & Hospitality Self Insurance Fund: John Liberatore of Liberatore’s Ristorante & Catering

Was your favorite restaurant recognized?

Councilman Marks receives Outstanding Eagle Scout Award

Marks Eagle ScoutBaltimore County Councilman David Marks has received the National Eagle Scout Association’s Outstanding Eagle Scout Award, one of five recipients from the Baltimore Area Council.

He was honored at a Thursday meeting for Boy Scout Troop 124, the unit where his son Nicholas is a member. The presentation was done by Scout Executive/CEO Brian Steger, Council Board Chair Trey Shupert, and former Council Board Chair Barry Williams.

The Outstanding Eagle Scout Award recognizes “Eagle Scouts who have brought great honor to the highest rank of the Boy Scouts of America through their personal and professional contributions at the local, state, or national level.”

Councilman Marks received his award in October of 1988, and he has remained active in Scouting during his adult life. He is currently Chairman for the Dulaney District, which includes Scouts from eastern and northern Baltimore County.

Councilman Marks is a merit badge counselor, has advised on numerous service projects, and attends over a dozen Eagle Scout investitures every year.

“Receiving the Eagle Scout rank in 1988 was one of the highlights of my life. It culminated years of work, and it helped prepare me for the demands I would later experience in life ,” Councilman Marks commented.

“Scouting is one of the most important youth movements of our day, and it is an honor to work with so many parent volunteers who support this wonderful organization.”

Perry Hall High, Eastern Tech educators named ‘Teacher of the Year’ finalists

baltimore-county-public-schools-bcpsTOWSON, MD. – Five Baltimore County Public Schools educators have been named finalists for the school system’s annual Teacher of the Year award for 2017 – 2018.

The finalists are:

  • Rebecca M. Eig, a Grade 2 teacher at Owings Mills Elementary School
  • David J. Kreller, coordinator of the school-to-career transition program at Pikesville High School
  • Megan N. Stewart, a Grade 3 teacher at Mays Chapel Elementary School
  • Shannon M. Strazzire, an Advanced Placement language teacher at Perry Hall High School
  • Rebecca A. Talbott, an English and career and technology education teacher at Eastern Technical High School

“These men and women exemplify the high level of professionalism, dedication, and creativity we find in educators across our school system,” said Superintendent Dr. S. Dallas Dance. “It is our great honor each school year to recognize Teacher of the Year finalists and to celebrate the positive impact that teachers make in the lives of their students and in the communities they serve. Our school system continues to progress because of the great teachers we have in our classrooms and the work they do every day.”

From among the five finalists, one outstanding educator will be named Baltimore County’s Teacher of the Year during a 6:30 p.m. ceremony on Wednesday, Apr. 26, 2017, at George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology, 938 York Road, Towson 21204.

The ceremony will feature student performances and remarks from 2016 – 2017 Baltimore County Teacher of the Year Corey Carter (Northwest Academy of Health Sciences), Elementary Principal of the Year Missy Fanshaw (Rodgers Forge Elementary School), and Secondary Principal of the Year Sandra Reid (Pikesville High School). During the event, all Teacher of the Year and Principal of the Year nominees and their schools will be recognized, and the new Elementary and Secondary Principals of the Year will be announced.

The Teacher of the Year finalists were selected by a panel of judges from across Baltimore County representing teachers, students, administrators and the Teachers Association of Baltimore County (TABCO). The Teacher of the Year will go on to participate in the state Teacher of the Year program, including recognition from the State Board of Education.

BCPS Teacher of the Year Finalists 2017