Argyle Paraeducator Named Supporting Services Employee of the Year
Lisa Bligen, a special education paraeducator at Argyle Middle School, is the 2015 Supporting Services Employee of the Year.
Colleagues describe her as a positive spirit and a bridge builder, looking out for and supporting all students and staff members. As a paraeducator, she actively plans with the teachers so she is knowledgeable on the content and expectations for the students. She consistently expands her instructional skills to match the needs of the students she serves. She is well-respected by staff.
Bligen was instrumental in helping Argyle improve its school climate with students and staff. She analyzed data, led meetings with the instructional focus team, and worked tirelessly with the administration, SEIU members, teachers and staff to create plans to improve outcomes. As a result, the school has seen its Gallup Staff Engagement data improve markedly in the last three years.
Her commitment to students extends beyond her time in the classroom. For 10 years, she has been a lead instructor and trainer for other staff members at the George B. Thomas Learning Academy. She is a true ambassador for the program, even creating modifications so that all students can access the course. She completed a graduate certificate program in bilingual special education and has also been studying Spanish to be able to reach more of her students and their parents.
Bligen was also the lead writer for the new Middle School Language Arts Curriculum that incorporates aspects of the Common Core State Standards. Bligen also volunteers her time to support MCPS programs, such as the Special Education Summit and Family Market Days.
She is also Argyle’s elected SEIU representative and has been dedicated to the staff. With amazing attention to detail, organization and vision, she is outstanding in making presentations to staff.
Bligen will be among the honorees at the Champions for Children celebration on Tuesday, April 21. The award was established by SEIU Local 500 and the Montgomery County Business Roundtable for Education (MCBRE).
Head of Food and Nutrition Office Named Hero Against Hunger by Manna Food
Marla Caplon, director of the MCPS Division of Food and Nutrition Services, was honored on March 12 as a “Hero Against Hunger” by Manna Food Center, a nonprofit organization that works to eliminate hunger in Montgomery County.
Caplon served on Manna’s board of directors for eight years—from September 2006 through September 2014—and remains very involved with the group. Manna recognized her not only for her service on the Board, but also for her behind-the-scenes work to help end hunger.
A registered dietician, Caplon was instrumental in guiding the development of the Smart Sacks program. Working with businesses and community organizations, the Smart Sacks program sends bags of healthy food home each Friday with about 2,300 MCPS students who receive Free and Reduced-price Meals Services (FARMS), meaning they are living near or below the poverty line.
In MCPS, Caplon oversees food and service operations in all 202 MCPS schools, as well as other nutrition programs, including summer meals. She has overseen significant improvements to the variety and nutritional value of meals offered in MCPS schools. She was honored by Manna during a reception at Kentlands Mansion in Gaithersburg on Thursday, March 12.
“She always finds a way forward, even when there are competing interests,” DeCarlo said. “She really has brought an awareness and understanding of how our food needs to be healthy for kids, so it can help them be strong and ready to learn.”
Singers and Dancers Entertain at 4th Annual Talent Show
The Montgomery County Alliance of Black School Educators (MCABSE) held the MCPS Employee Talent Showcase on March 7. Fifteen acts performed in the 4th annual show, including teachers, administrators and supporting services staff. Several bands performed jazz, blues, and R&B selections and individuals sang solos. Other performances included a salsa dance, monologue and educational hip hop. Proceeds from the event supported academic interventions, up to 25 scholarships for graduating seniors and the work of MCABSE.
Terri S. Dodson, bus operator I at the Clarksburg Depot, died on Feb. 27. She had 16 years of service to MCPS.
Carrie C. Frazier, bus operator I at the Shady Grove North Transportation Depot, died on Feb. 8. She had been with MCPS for more than 42 years.
Julia Lopez, teacher at Roberto Clemente Middle School, died on Feb. 27. She had been with MCPS for more than three years.