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 A Note From the Executive Director

Dear Friend,

The Foundation just wrapped on our signature production of Are You Up the the Fifth Grade Challenge? Our four contestants were phenomenal at recalling elementary facts and our MCPS students were impressive at answering the questions. Playing along was a at-capacity audience of enthusiastic family, friends, and trivia buffs.  Another one of the show’s enthusiasts is Leslie Grimmell, MCPS elementary integrated curriculum specialist, who has been the question maker for the production since its inception.  Leslie leaves us after this year to take on a new school-based position. We want to thank her for all of her efforts these past four years.  You can read more about the event and Leslie’s question-making talents, below.

As always,  I hope these stories inspire you to become more personally involved in our mission.


Yolanda Johnson Pruitt 

Fifth Grade Challenge Contestants "Win" More Than $10,000
Tammy Darvish Cropped

More than 200 people gathered at AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Spring April 11  to watch four community professionals compete to raise grant money for  the Educational Foundation with the assistance of 27 MCPS fifth graders. Jorge Restrepo (Eureka Facts LLC), Kenn Steen (Solar City), Tamara Darvish (PenFed Credit Union) and Councilmember Craig Rice (Montgomery County Council District 2 ) together “won” $10,900 for the Foundation with their correct responses to MCPS curriculum-based questions.

“When in doubt, go with the students,” advised the Teacher of the Class, Kimberly Oliver Burnim when it came to the tricky questions.

The Foundation will grant the prize money toward its ChromeBooks initiative for schools experiencing the delayed rollout. The Foundation will also be giving a $500 grant to each of the 15 schools that participated in the event.  

Read more about the event and the sponsors here, and watch for the event broadcast, which will air April 23, 24, 30, and May 1 at 6:30 pm on MCPS-TV Ch. 34 (Comcast); 36 (Verizon); 89 (RCN).

MCPS Students Impress with Knowledge of Curriculum at Fifth Grade Challenge

MCPS fifth graders are up to the challenge. Not only are they excited to represent their schools, they are also enthusiastic to show off what they have learned in the classroom. The kids were almost always able to figure out the correct answer of the rather difficult game show questions, and eloquently explained how they collaboratively came to an answer.

Contestant and Councilmember Craig Rice found the kid’s participation to be enlightening, inspiring and promising, especially being able to see their eagerness to answer the questions.

The schools’ principals nominated the students, who then submitted a brief application about why they would like to participate. The kids were treated to pizza from Potomac Pizza before the event, received a certificate of participation and goodie bags, and a dessert reception with their families afterward at Discovery.


The following elementary schools were represented at the Fifth Grade Challenge on April 11:

Brooke Grove  


Cedar Grove          



Fox Chapel

Garret Park

Harmony Hills

JoAnn Leleck at Broad Acres

North Chevy Chase       

Judith A. Resnick     

Dr. Sally K. Ride     


Wheaton Woods


 Read more about the students' experience, here.

Spotlight on Leslie Grimmell: The Game's Question Maker

For the last four years, Leslie Grimmell has spent hours creating questions to use for the Fifth Grade Challenge. As the show’s question maker, Leslie reflects on what students should know by the end of the fifth grade, and uses those standards to craft the questions local professionals answer during the game.

Leslie is an Elementary Integrated Curriculum Specialist on the Elementary Integrated Curriculum Team. She works to provide direct support to schools on a regular basis by working with staff to facilitate effective instructional practices and student achievement of rigorous content for all students in all subject areas.  

For the upcoming school year, she will be returning to a school-based position. The MCPS Educational Foundation would like to thank Leslie for her four years of dedication to the Foundation’s signature event and wish her luck in her next role within MCPS.  LampPost reporter Jaclyn Turner was able to interview Leslie about her contributions to the Fifth Grade Challenge, and shares her answers below.

How do you come up with questions for the Fifth Grade Challenge?

I consider what students need to know and be able to do by the end of Grade 5. I review the standards, indicators, and curriculum in each content area. I also review the questions from the previous years. The focus is always on what do students need to know and be able to do.

What were you trying to convey about the MCPS curriculum with the questions you created?

Montgomery County Public Schools’ curriculum is rigorous. While the questions we pose at the Fifth Grade Challenge are interesting and highlight key concepts and skills students need to know and apply by the end of fifth grade, just as important is the need for students to understand and know when and how to apply creative and critical thinking skills as well as academic success skills. When students apply critical and creative thinking skills and collaborate by sharing and explaining their thinking, they are applying the skills that are essential to lifelong learning. In our MCPS classrooms, students receive explicit instruction in and have opportunities to develop and apply these important skills.

What aspects of the elementary curriculum do you think is most important to retain post-college?

During the 5th Grade Challenge, the audience receives a glimpse into students’ use of critical and creative thinking skills as well as academic success skills. These concepts and skills are essential for success as our students prepare for life in our 21st century society.

Which ones did you think were particularly difficult this year?

The questions that had multiple correct responses and questions where a claim was made and the responders had to explain if the claim was correct were more difficult.

Read more from the interview, here.

Scholarships Applications in Review

Tammy Darvish Cropped

The 2016 scholarship deadline closed March 24. Eighty-two MCPS seniors applied for the Foundation’s various scholarships offered through the Paul Vance Scholars Program and the Legislative Partners program. A committee of seven experienced scholarship reviewers is currently working to determine who will receive the scholarships. Reviewers will take into consideration financial need, estimated family contribution, GPA, a personal essay, and a teacher recommendation.

Montgomery County Public Schools Educational Foundation, Inc.
850 Hungerford Drive, Room 149, Rockville, Maryland 20850
Phone: 301.517.5099/301.279.3432  |  Fax: 301.279.3428  |  Email:
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