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 A Note From the Executive Director
Dear Friend,

The weather outside may have been frightful, but at the Foundation we were very hard at work planning our delightful Fifth Grade Challenge annual signature event, promoting our scholarship programs and working tirelessly to secure new partnerships to benefit our MCPS community.
This month, we spotlight individuals to whom we are infinitely grateful for their involvement and participation in MCPS programs. Their contributions to
this community, past and present, inspire us, and I hope they may inspire you to become more personally involved in our mission.


Yolanda Johnson Pruitt

 MCPS Snow Heroes Provide Important Services During Winter Storm Jonas

Not every super hero flies; some safely transport MCPS students through hazardous weather conditions, or open their school during snow closures to allow students to receive hot meals and participate in structured activities.  A snowy February presented the opportunity for a few MCPS employees – dubbed “Snow Heroes”-- to exhibit exemplary care and concern for MCPS students.  The Foundation was pleased to join MCPS in recognizing these very special colleagues such as the bus drivers who drove students home from athletics competitions on Jan. 20 on an icy, dangerous beltway with stand still traffic; the Department of Facilities Management who worked around the clock to clear over 36 inches of snow on 202 locations over 497 square miles; and the 11 schools that opened up lunch sites for families to receive free meals during the blizzards.

See the full list of Snow Heroes who helped during the snowstorm.

MCPS Retiree Raises Funds for the Toolkits and Books Campaign 

Joan Donovan retired in 2004 after teaching fourth grade at Laytonsville Elementary School for 35 years.  Her relationship with the school and MCPS has never ended: she still substitute teaches and helps assemble and fundraise for the Toolkits, Books, and Backpacks Project run by the MCPS Retiree Association.  The Toolkits Project, which launched in 2003, helps economically disadvantaged kindergartners who attend the Title I Extended Learning Opportunities Summer Adventures in Learning (ELO SAIL) Program at approximately 25 to 30 school sites each summer.  The toolkits contain most of the school supplies that kindergartners need to have at home to support their learning at school such as magnetic letters and numbers, bottle caps, crayons, play-doh, ABC and math cards, and more.  Over the last 12 years, the program has donated over 14,000 toolkits to MCPS students.

Q. What exactly is the Toolkits Project?

The Toolkits Project was first initiated by MCPSRA in 2003 at the request of then MCPS Superintendent Dr. Jerry Weast to help economically disadvantaged kindergartners who attend the Title I Extended Learning Opportunities Summer Adventures in Learning (ELO SAIL) Program at approximately 25 to 30 school sites each summer.  The toolkits contain most of the school supplies that kindergartners need to have at home to support their learning at school such as magnetic letters, crayons, scissors, pencils and sharpeners, erasers, rulers, glue sticks, paper, ABC cards, math cards, number lines, 100s charts, math counters, and even lesson plans for parents to use with their children.  Parents are invited to attend an in-service session at each ELO SAIL school site to help them make the best use at home of each of the items and lessons contained in these toolkits.   

In 2005 the Books component was added to provide gently used books for the Title I summer school students in grades 1 - 5 so that each of them would have a book to take home to keep at summer's end.  We now try to purchase new books for the students in one or more grade levels rather than collect gently used books, which did not always provide us with enough or age appropriate books.  We can provide books each summer only if our fundraising efforts are successful enough to permit us to do so.  The Backpacks component was added in 2007 at the request of the Title I summer school coordinators to provide backpacks of school supplies and books for homeless children from non-Title I schools who are invited to attend the ELO SAIL Program each summer.  Again, we can only provide these if enough funds are raised.  Over the 12 years of the project's existence, we have assembled and distributed nearly 14,000 kindergarten toolkits, collected and distributed thousands of gently used books as well as purchased and given to needy summer school children 8,800 new books, and provided over 225 backpacks of school supplies to homeless children.    

Q: Why is the toolkits campaign important or valuable to the MCPS community, to you?

I have always known that in every school district and in every community across this nation there are many, many children from families that experience the misfortune of living with the hardships of poverty and need.  But I had no concept just how many families right here in Montgomery County face this every day until I really got involved with this project.  People have to know how devastating it is to these parents when their children get their school supply lists in the fall and they have no means to go out and buy these supplies.  The children not only need but deserve to have the supplies necessary at home to support their learning at school.  They are entitled to the same chance as any other child in our school system.  Every child is special!  "Somebody must have thought I was special!" said one little boy to me as I handed him his kit and told him that someone had donated the money just so he could get one.  That's why this project is important to me and most especially to the children we have dedicated our lives to serve.   Our future as well as theirs depends on how committed we are to their education and well-being today.

 Read the rest of the interview with Joan here, and if you are interested in contributing to the Toolkits Project, you can do so here.

Friends and Family Honor Joann Leleck with Endowment Fund 

Joann LeleckFormer Broad Acres Principal Joann “Jody” Leleck passed away from colon cancer in December 2012. To commemorate Leleck’s legacy, a fund has been created to award a scholarship to a  graduating senior in the Northeast Consortium who attended JoAnn Leleck Elementary School at Broad Acres. “The fund will continue her belief that all children deserve an education,” said Paul Leleck, Jody’s husband.

To date, $58,300 has been pledged and contributed to help endow the fund. The Leleck family hopes to raise at least  $375,000 to give the fund endurance and longevity.  

“Jody Leleck epitomized everything a school leader is supposed to be— demanding, caring, compassionate, and laser-focused on what is best for students and their families,” reminisced former superintendent Jerry Weast. “She believed every child could succeed and achieve at the highest level. It was the mission that drove her work and defined her life.”

Jody was an educator for more than 26 years in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, serving as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, associate superintendent, and chief academic officer. When Jody assumed leadership of Broad Acres in 1999, it was among the district’s lowest-performing schools.  

Under her leadership, student achievement rose dramatically and it became one of the district’s highest performing schools. For instance, just 5 percent of third graders were proficient in math and 13 percent were proficient in reading in 2000. By 2004, 67 percent were proficient in math and 75 percent were proficient in reading. The turnaround of Broad Acres captured national attention in a Harvard Education Press book about Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), “Leading for Equity: The Pursuit of Excellence in Montgomery County Public Schools.”

Contributions to the Joann Leleck Endowment Fund can be made here.

Councilmember Rice Steps Up to the Fifth Grade Challenge


The Foundation’s signature event, “Are You Up to the Fifth Grade Challenge,” is less than three months away  on April 11 and valued members of the community are choosing to take part.

Montgomery County District 2 Councilmember Craig Rice has been selected as one of the three contestants who will play along with the students. “I am looking forward to this program not just to showcase how MCPS is doing a great job educating our students but also to prove to my daughters just how smart I am,” stated Rice. “I think I'll do extremely well in math because I was in the MCPS math, science, computer science magnet program, but I am a little concerned about language arts.”

Rice, who was first elected to the County Council in November 2010, is the youngest African American to ever serve on the nine-member Council and only the second African American man to serve in that role.  He is a lifelong resident of Montgomery County, graduating from the Talented and Gifted Program at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring.

“I look forward to having some fun, remembering some things that I've forgotten, learning some things that I might not have, and helping to raise a lot of money for the MCPS Educational Foundation,” Rice said about the upcoming evening.

 Want to know more about who is participating in the Challenge? Read about other assigned roles here! Sponsorship Opportunities are still available and interested guests may reserve their Fifth Grade Challenge ticket now!

On the Radar: Scholarship Application Process Closes March 24

The annual scholarship process began January 1. Graduating MCPS seniors may apply through March 24  for our Paul Vance Scholars Program and our Legislative Partners program as well as a number of other scholarship opportunities. The Legislative Partners Program has the confirmed partnership and particpation from Delegate Eric G. Luedtke (14), Delegate Kathleen M. Dumais (15), Delegate Aruna Miller(15), Delegate Kumar P. Barve(17), James W. Gilchrist (17),  Delegate Alfred C. Carr(18), Senator Richard Madaleno(18), Delegate Benjamin F. Kramer(19), and Senator Jamin B. Raskin (20).

The Scholarship Committee will convene in mid-April to make decisions. Students will be notified of Scholarship status following the decisions, which will be prior to graduation.  Students can apply online or through the mail. Please note, if mailing an application, please be sure to mail a week ahead of time, as applications received after March 24 will not be considered.

Apply and find more information about the process, here

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Phone: 301.517.5099/301.279.3432  |  Fax: 301.279.3428  |  Email:
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