At St. Mary's Graduation, Cardozo Educators Are Honored for Their Work With College

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The District's Cardozo High School had a featured role Saturday morning at St. Mary's College of Maryland's graduation ceremony.

Several former Cardozo students were among the graduates, and two people central to those students' journey to the Southern Maryland college were recognized with honorary degrees.

Reginald Ballard, former principal of Cardozo, received an honorary doctor of education. Frazier O'Leary, a teacher of Advanced Placement classes who worked with Ballard, received an honorary doctor of philosophy in humanities.

Cardozo's relationship with the college was solidified in 2000, when several students learned that college scholarships they had been promised when they were in Bruce-Monroe Elementary School evaporated after the organization funding them went bankrupt.

Jane Margaret "Maggie" O'Brien, president of St. Mary's College, heard about the situation and decided to help. She offered the students full scholarships to her campus or help with finding other colleges.

O'Brien began a relationship with Cardozo educators, including Ballard and O'Leary, to prepare students for college. O'Brien appointed herself personal adviser to Cardozo students, asking about their classes, organizing trips and suggesting graduate school options. Since then, more than 20 Cardozo graduates have attended the public honors college.

Ballard was principal of Cardozo High School from 1995 to 2006. He was known as an activist principal who demanded that students respect their education. He worked with staff members to create college-level courses at Cardozo.

Ballard rode charter buses with the students when they visited the St. Mary's campus and became a counselor to them as they adjusted to Southern Maryland culture.

After a decade at the helm of Cardozo, Ballard left to become part of D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee's team.

O'Leary teaches AP English language and literature at Cardozo. He is a national consultant for the AP program. He also coaches baseball at Cardozo.

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