Alisha Yocum

On April 23, Principal Janine Smith was surprised as she entered the Thurmont Middle School (TMS) Gym to be applauded by students, staff, and family for the recent announcement that she was a finalist for the Washington Post Principal of the Year.

In its 41st year, the Washington Post Principal of the Year Award aims to acknowledge principals who are determined to enrich their schools in all aspects of education.

Dr. Markoe, Deputy Superintendient of Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) led the celebration and presented Smith with her award. Board of Education President, Karen Yoho, and other FCPS staff were also on hand to acknowledge the accomplishment.

Smith started out as a Middle School Teacher before becoming Assistant Principal at Windsor Knolls Middle from 2016-18. Later she became Assistant Principal at TMS before taking on her most recent position as Principal.

Assistant Principal Anita Shank nominated Smith for the award. The two have known each other for over 20 years. Shank thought her colleague was deserving of the recognition because of the change she has brought to the school. In fact, the school motto has become ‘Be the change”. Shank says she has really made students feel like they have a voice and makes sure everyone feels welcome.

Smith’s husband, also a FCPS Teacher, said his wife being a finalist confirms her hard work and dedication to ensuring that her students strive for excellence.

While still in shock from the surprise, Smith said she is so proud and grateful to be the Principal at TMS and she thanked her staff. “Without you [the staff] we could not do the amazing things we do here at TMS”.

Dr. Dr. Zadia Gadsden of Takoma Park Elementary School was named the winner of this year’s Washington Post Principal of the Year Award.

Janine Smith, a finalist for the Washington Post’s Principal of the Year, poses for a picture with her

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