Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2007

County teacher is finalist for top award

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Raul Ortiz, head of the successful Automotive Technology Program at Damascus High School, is one of seven finalists for State Teacher of the Year for 2007-2008.

Ortiz was named Montgomery County Teacher of the Year in April. Maryland Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick announced the selection of the state finalists last Thursday.

More than teaching auto technology skills, Ortiz serves as a role model for what his students can achieve and inspires his students to continue learning, say those who nominated him for the top county award.

After spending 19 years as a master automotive technician, Ortiz decided to become a teacher and continued his education to earn his teaching certification, then went on to earn a master’s degree equivalency in education.

Ortiz has guided Damascus High School through the rigorous process of achieving two of the highest certifications possible for an auto technology program. He also has built partnerships with local dealers and repair shops, placing students with employers.

The state finalists were selected by a panel of judges from key Maryland education organizations representing principals, teachers, school boards, teacher unions, students, parents and higher education.

Oral interviews with the finalists will be conducted Sept. 15.

The Maryland Teacher of the Year will be announced Oct. 5. In addition to winning cash and other awards, the winner will spend the coming year as a speaker and advisor in the state and will go on to compete for the National Teacher of the Year Award.

A special hello

A special hello goes out to members of the Kiwanis Club at Leisure World for inviting William Schlossenberg, our director of corporate affairs, and me to speak to the organization.

The members of the club were as gracious and warm as they were a few years ago when they invited me to stop by.

They asked very engaging questions and offered many reminiscences of their lives.

It was a joy to spend time with people who do such nice things for our community, and I look forward to continuing our friendship.

Town Square uncorked

Want to sample some fancy cheese and sip a little wine? Check out ‘‘Uncorked,” Rockville’s first open-air wine-tasting event set for Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.

Jazz, cheese, cooking demonstrations put on by Lebanese Taverna and vino will be featured along Gibbs Street in Town Square.

Maryland wineries will be on hand giving samples to anyone of age willing to pay for the $10 admission fee.

‘‘We’re looking to have a nice afternoon to sip wine and enjoy the new Town Center,” Andrew Klee, Rockville’s special events manager, said.

Members of the Rockville Sister City Corporation will be on hand to help at the admissions booth.

For more on the event and Town Square, see our Scenes from the Square column on page A-19.

Library needs books

Sounds like an unusual request, but the Rockville Library needs books.

At least the Friends of the Rockville Library needs them.

The group holds a book sale every Wednesday from June through October in conjunction with the Farmer’s Market in downtown Rockville.

The sale runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. along East Montgomery Avenue.

The weekly sales have been so successful that book reserves are low and the group needs more books to continue the sales.

Anyone interested in donating books in good condition can take them to the circulation desk at the Rockville Library, located at 21 Maryland Ave. in Town Square.

Fiction, nonfiction, children’s, gardening and cookbooks are in particular demand, but no magazines or textbooks. Most books sell for $1. Proceeds help the library offer a wide variety of special projects.

For more information, call Dan Beavin at 240-777-0140.

Items appropriate for this column should be sent to Judith Hruz, Editor, The Rockville Gazette, 1200 Quince Orchard Blvd., Gaithersburg, Md. 20878; faxed to 301-670-7182 or 301-670-7183; or e-mailed to Deadline is Thursday at 5 p.m. Items are subject to editing and used on a space-available basis.