Local volunteer has golden touch Ellicott City woman earns state honor

Katie Jasinski tries to find "little things" to do as an involved resident of Ellicott City, but it seems as if any activity she chooses turns into something bigger.

Two years ago, for example, she began volunteering in her eldest daughter's second-grade classroom at Worthington Elementary School.


Now, Mrs. Jasinski is the school's parent volunteer coordinator, responsible for scheduling more than 100 volunteers for classroom assignments, special activities and events.

Last year, she saw a television report about a Baltimore City principal struggling to educate children in the inner city and wrote a letter asking what she could do to help.


The result: a continuing series of cultural and educational exchanges between the two schools, called the "ColeWorth Connection."

All that hard work will be recognized in Annapolis this Wednesday, when Ms. Jasinski and 23 other volunteers from around the state are honored by Gov. William Donald Schaefer as "Maryland's Most Beautiful People."

The seventh annual awards ceremony, which includes one volunteer from each county, is intended to salute volunteer activities, said Christine Edwards, public information officer for the state's "Maryland You Are Beautiful" program.

This is not the first time Ms. Jasinski, a mother of three and a master's degree candidate in liberal studies at the College of Notre Dame in Baltimore, has been recognized for her volunteer efforts.

In April, she was chosen Howard County's outstanding education volunteer for engineering the partnership between Worthington and Coleman elementary schools.

"Katie was just the logical choice," said Kathy Sloan, local coordinator for the "Maryland You Are Beautiful" program.

The two schools formed a friendship last year after Ms. Jasinski saw a CNN report in which Coleman's principal, Addie Johnson, described her efforts to teach children in an urban school system strapped for financial resources.

"I was just so impressed" by Ms. Johnson, said the Ellicott City volunteer, who decided to organize an effort to help.


As part of that effort, Worthington, St. John's Lane and Talbott Springs elementary schools last year collected 200 books for Coleman's library.

Since then, students from Worthington and Coleman have visited each other, written letters and shared videotapes.

In January, Coleman students will visit Worthington to read and exchange books as part of Maryland Reading Month. Students from both schools also will make and exchange quilts based on the books they read.

The partnership has benefited both schools, Ms. Jasinski said.

Worthington is considering adopting a concept from Coleman called "Parent Academy," in which parent volunteers are trained to work at the school.

"We've learned equally as much from them as they have from us," Ms. Jasinski said.


In addition to her work with the partnership program, Ms. Jasinski volunteers at least 10 hours each week at Worthington Elementary, helping students with math and reading, planning meetings and making telephone calls.

"She's always willing to do something," said Fran Donaldson, Worthington principal. "She never says no."

In what is left of her spare time, Ms. Jasinski works toward her master's degree and cares for her children, who all attend Worthington.

"I'm so fired up," she said. "There's so much to do and so little time."