Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2007

County teacher is finalist for top teacher 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.

College namesnew student trustee

Montgomery College student Cristian E. Barrera has been appointed to serve a one-year term as the student representative on the community college’s Board of Trustees.

Barrera, who attends classes at the Rockville Campus, fills the seat formerly held by Vanessa Coleman, whose term as the student trustee expired on July 1.

A native of El Salvador, Barrera is a member of Montgomery College’s Montgomery Scholars honors program and holds a 3.81 grade point average. This July, Barrera joined fellow Scholars at the University of Cambridge in England, where he attended summer college classes.

This month, he is volunteering at Hôpital des Enfants de Rabat, a children’s hospital in Rabat, Morocco, as part of Cross-Cultural Solutions, a nonprofit international volunteer organization. He is teaching English to children suffering from asthma, diabetes and cancer and creating recreational and educational activities for them.

‘‘I want to make a difference,” Barrera said in a prepared statement. ‘‘I personally think that advocating for the college and my fellow classmates is the first step. I am willing and ready to work hard to make the college a place where not only ‘endless possibilities’ exist, but also one in which they are at the fingertips of every student.”

At Montgomery College, Barrera has participated in various student clubs and sports teams. This fall, he will become the vice president of the college’s Rockville Campus chapter of Phi Theta Kappa honor society.

Attending Montgomery College is a family affair for Barrera. His older sister, Brenda, attends the community college and studies in the general honors program. Barrera’s goal is to graduate with his sister next May.

Members of the Montgomery College Board of Trustees, who are appointed by the Governor of Maryland, exercise general oversight for the college and are empowered to establish policies for implementing the college’s mission.

A special hello to our friends at Leisure World

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.

Practicemakes perfect

The American Sign Language (ASL) Practice Club held during the summer months at the Rockville Library will continue in the fall and winter, with the next two sessions set for 7 to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 5 and 19.

Specific dates for other upcoming sessions will be announced in the near future.

Deaf adults and young adults are also invited to join to help offer sign language practice. Volunteer coaches experienced in sign language will also be available.

The ASL Practice Club was initiated by Library Services to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community at Rockville Library.

‘‘People have asked that the program continue,” said Susan F. Cohen, coordinator, ‘‘and we’re happy to offer it.

‘‘Sign language is the third or fourth most used language in the United States,” Cohen added. ‘‘If you have deaf customers using your business, agency or services or if you have a neighbor or a family member who is deaf and communicates in sign language and you want to practice your skills, we invite you to come and meet others in this informal setting.”

Montgomery County Public Libraries has a collection of sign language videos and books that can be reserved online with a library card or browsed at a local library.

Rockville Library is located at 21 Maryland Ave. in the Town Square community. Parking is available in two nearby garages.

Registration is encouraged, but not required. To request ADA program accommodations (five work days in advance) or to receive more information, send an e-mail to or call 240-777-0001; TTY 240-777-0902.

Don’t forgetto help

Members of the Sandy Spring Volunteer Fire Department are teaming up this week with members of Montgomery County Firefighters Local 1664 to ‘‘Fill the Boot” for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and Jerry’s Kids.

The fire and rescue personnel are collecting donations today, Thursday and Friday at the intersection of Georgia Avenue and Route 108, in the heart of Olney.

Donations also can be taken to Sandy Spring Station 40 at 16911 Georgia Ave. in Olney.

For more information, call firefighters Dave Carter or Nancy Thornton at 301-774-6266.

Lions Club to offerannual golf tourney

Area golfers are invited to join the Olney Lions Club and well-known sports broadcaster Frank Herzog at the 14th annual Olney Open Golf Tournament on Sept. 7 at the Laytonsville Golf Course.

Herzog, who was the voice of the Washington Redskins for 25 years, is the honorary chairman and will serve as the master of ceremonies at the event.

‘‘The Olney Lions host a wonderful local tournament, so I’m really pleased to join with them to assist in their fundraising efforts for local charities,” Herzog said in a press release. ‘‘It should be a fun morning of golf that also helps our community. I hope to see a lot of local golfers join us for the fun and support of our local charities.”

Greens fees for the tournament, which will begin with a 9 a.m. shotgun start, are $85 per player, which includes golfing, beverages, and a victory luncheon and prizes immediately following play. The tournament, which will be a Captain’s Choice format, will also offer a silent auction and door prizes that include Redskins memorabilia, weekend getaways, rounds of golf at local clubs and courses and gift certificates to several local restaurants.

All proceeds from the tournament will go to Olney Lions Club charities, including the Carol Jean Cancer Foundation, which sponsors its local camp for children with cancer, as well as the Lions’ Camp Merrick, which serves deaf and visually impaired children.

Golfers wishing to play or to learn more about the tournament can contact either Lon Anderson at 301-587-7701 or or Mike Fekete at 301-774-6590 or Players are urged to register by Friday.

If you have an interesting note about the people and the events of Olney, Brookeville, Sandy Spring and Ashton, send it to Judith Hruz, Editor, The Olney Gazette, 1200 Quince Orchard Blvd., Gaithersburg, Md. 20878; or e-mail it to me at Our fax numbers are 301-670-7182 or 301-670-7183. Deadline is 5 p.m. Thursday. Include a daytime phone number for clarification. All items subject to editing and space availability.