Gor­don named state par­ent vol­un­teer

Father of three rec­og­nized for coat pro­gram, 10 years help­ing at school

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­news.com

Thomas Gor­don said he doesn’t vol­un­teer at his daugh­ter’s el­e­men­tary school for the at­ten­tion, but he’s been get­ting plenty of that since be­ing pre­sented with Mary­land’s top school vol­un­teer award.

“It’s all been very over­whelm­ing,” Gor­don said. “I never think of my­self as look­ing for awards, so I was just as­tounded.”

Last Fri­day, Gor­don was an­nounced as the re­cip­i­ent of the 2016 Mary­land Par­ent In­volve­ment Mat­ters

Award (PIMA) dur­ing a gala awards cer­e­mony, held at Martin’s West in Bal­ti­more. He was se­lected from a field of 24 can­di­dates, one from each Mary­land school dis­trict, who had been in­vited to the event.

The other four fi­nal­ists were Chen Chen of Anne Arun­del County, Cheri Pegues of Bal­ti­more County, Earnest Moore of Prince Ge­orge’s County and Donna Tur­namian of Wi­comico County.

“Mary­land schools are at their best when par­ents and other vol­un­teers are work­ing to im­prove each class­room for every child,” Mary­land Gov. Larry Ho­gan (R) said in a state­ment. “I con­grat­u­late Mr. Gor­don, along with all of the fi­nal­ists, for out­stand­ing con­tri­bu­tions to our state’s stu­dents, schools and com­mu­ni­ties.”

The PIMA pro­gram was first in­sti­tuted in 2008. It is the first pro­gram of its kind in the na­tion to spot­light par­ents and guardians who have a pos­i­tive im­pact on pub­lic schools. Its goal is to en­cour­age all par­ents to be­come in­volved in their chil­dren’s schools, ac­cord­ing to the Mary­land State Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion web­site.

Gor­don was nom­i­nated by In­dian Head El­e­men­tary School’s prin­ci­pal and staff, who noted he has been ac­tively in­volved in the school for more than 10 years.

“Over the three years I’ve been here at In­dian Head, he has been a very con­sis­tent vol­un­teer,” said Prin­ci­pal Ti­mothy Rosin.

Gor­don be­gan vol­un­teer­ing at In­dian Head El­e­men­tary in 2005, when his old­est son was a stu­dent. He has con­tin­ued to be a vol­un­teer, even as his youngest child is in fifth grade.

Rosin said Gor­don has been a tremen­dous help as a ro­bot­ics coach, a Desti­na­tion Imag­i­na­tion coach, and with the school’s Pos­i­tive Be­hav­ioral In­struc­tion and Sup­ports pro­gram, where he mans the desk where stu­dents can ex­change credit for good be­hav­ior for re­wards.

Rosin said Gor­don has also been a ma­jor sup­porter of the school’s Ca­reer Day, and has of­ten come to the school in his role as a mounted U.S. Park Police Of­fi­cer to speak with stu­dents about his work.

“It has a huge im­pact when the stu­dents see him rid­ing up on his horse,” Rosin said. “He ex­plains his job as a mounted police of­fi­cer and also talks about what he does to care for his horse.”

Gor­don also helped around the school, such as fil­ing cor­re­spon­dence and dis­play­ing stu­dent art­work.

Gor­don also be­gan a new pro­gram at the school: Keep­ing Kids in Coats. The pro­gram col­lects do­na­tions of new and gen­tly used coats and pro­vides them to stu­dents in need to bor­row or keep.

“They’re on this rack, and the kids will take them for re­cess, or for a few days, and then re­turn them or not,” Gor­don said.

Gor­don said the pro­gram, which be­gan ap­prox­i­mately five years ago, pro­vides ap­prox­i­mately 10 to 15 coats a year to chil­dren in need.

“This project has been very suc­cess­ful and, with the help and do­na­tions from the com­mu­nity, has grown ex­po­nen­tially,” par­ent li­ai­son Nat­ache Sumter said in her nom­i­na­tion let­ter.

Gor­don said he is hum­bled by the award, but feels there are other par­ents just as de­serv­ing.

“Lis­ten­ing to what some of the other can­di­dates from the other coun­ties were do­ing, I was as­tounded, I couldn’t imag­ine how they could choose be­tween them,” Gor­don said.

Gor­don also said he owes much to his wife, who was named In­dian Head’s Out­stand­ing Vol­un­teer in 2012.

“She’s also a great vol­un­teer,” Gor­don said. “I couldn’t do this with­out her.”

Gor­don said he hopes the PIMA pro­gram will en­cour­age other par­ents to be­come in­volved.

“There re­ally is a need for giv­ing of par­ents of their tal­ents and their time. There is no way to mea­sure what ef­fect that has on the kids,” Gor­don said. “Any pro­gram like this is great.”

Karen Salmon, act­ing Mary­land su­per­in­ten­dent of schools, com­mended Gor­don in a state­ment.

“Thomas Gor­don has been will­ing to do what­ever it takes to im­prove the en­tire school com­mu­nity,” Salmon said. “Strong parental in­volve­ment strength­ens our class­rooms and schools, and Thomas never stops work­ing to make In­dian Head bet­ter for all stu­dents. His tire­less com­mit­ment is an in­spi­ra­tion.”

Gor­don

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Thomas Gor­don, Mary­land’s 2016 Par­ent In­volve­ment Mat­ters Award re­cip­i­ent, vol­un­teers at an In­dian Head El­e­men­tary School func­tion.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Thomas Gor­don, Mary­land’s 2016 Par­ent In­volve­ment Mat­ters Award re­cip­i­ent, vis­its In­dian Head El­e­men­tary School dur­ing a Ca­reer Day event to speak with stu­dents about his job as a U.S. Park Police mounted of­fi­cer.

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