For the record

January 15, 2006

The first Frederick County Public Schools parent to attend the Maryland Parent Leadership Institute (PLI), Houry Keurkunian, recently graduated from the program. She received a $500 grant to lead a project aimed at improving parent and community involvement at Waverley Elementary School.

The annual Institute invites about 20 parent applicants to explore education issues such as Maryland's implementation of No Child Left Behind initiatives, says Keurkunian, and it trains parents to become leaders and full partners in their children's education. PLI is a statewide program of the Family Services Agency, Inc., funded by the U.S. Department of Education. Parents attend at no cost.

PLI held its third annual Institute over three weekends, September through November, in Potomac, Md. Keurkunian said her parents came from Lebanon to watch her children during weekends while she attended. Of Armenian descent, Keurkunian's family moved to America from Lebanon in 2002. It wasn't long after their move that Keurkunian became active in the Frederick County Public Schools language bank, assisting as an interpreter. She also began work as an instructional assistant at Even Start, a federally funded program that provides family literacy classes and school-readiness activities to qualifying county residents.


"Ms. Keurkunian plays a key role in the Even Start early childhood classroom as we work to meet No Child Left Behind initiatives at our newest site, Hillcrest Elementary. Her leadership training has provided a better understanding of public education and strengthened our team's approach in working with families learning English." says Even Start director Teena Broadrup.

During PLI training, participants planned leadership projects to meet a local school need. Because Waverley's mascot is the golden eagle, Keurkunian calls her project the "Golden Eagle Extending Public Relations", or GEEPRS for short. Her goal is to create a team of parents and staff that will improve parent and community involvement in three ways: Increasing volunteer time 500 hours over the school's 2004-05 level, creating a "Read to and with" program in which Crestwood senior citizens help build student reading skills, and establishing three to five long-term community partnerships to support the school's achievement goals.

Last July, Waverley was one of 53 schools countywide that received a Maryland Department of Education School Volunteer Certificate for outstanding work in welcoming volunteers during the 2004-05 school year.

Keurkunian urges parents to apply to attend the next PLI. Information is available online at Parents can also contact Keurkunian at 240-236-8780.

Four Shippensburg University graduates are recipients this year of the university's Outstanding Young Alumnus Award.

The recipients are Teresa R. Black, Class of 1992; Todd Cressler, Class of 1993; Robert Orndorff, Class of 1988; and Rob Rutz, Class of 1987. The awards were presented Dec. 17 during the university's Winter Commencement.

Black, who also earned her master's degree in special education and her secondary mathematics 7-12 certification from Shippensburg, teaches mathematics, special education, and social studies at Fannett-Metal Middle School in Willow Hill, Pa. She joined the staff there in 1997 after working as a substitute teacher and as a counselor for migrant children.

The Fannettsburg, Pa. resident has designed and implemented several innovative educational programs, including flexible daily schedule, enhanced cooperative and interdisciplinary learning across grade levels, and inclusionary learning experiences with special education students. She also designed and implemented a successful voluntary after-school study program for middle/high school students.

Todd Cressler is the fifth generation of Shippensburg University graduates in his family, and his wife Shelly, graduated from Shippensburg in 1993 and 2001. The Mechanicsburg, Pa. resident took a failing business with three employees and turned it into a thriving business with three locations and 15 employees. Today, Cresscare Medical is expected to exceed $1.5 million in sales and is the leading provider for home sleep apnea products in central Pennsylvania.

Besides serving as CEO and owner of Cresscare Medical, Cressler is also vice president of Care Capital Management. He was recognized for his business success by the Pennsylvania Association of Medical Suppliers with its Outstanding Service Award. After graduation, he was the Acacia Alumni president for three years and was their housing corporation president. He is involved with the Shippensburg University alumni golf outing and Acacia alumni events, including the golf outing that raises funds for charities each year.

The Herald-Mail Articles