Ms. Cheneler and Ms. Barry Recognized as FCPS Cares of the Month Recipients!

June 2021 Region 4 Recipients

By Department of Human Resources
September 29, 2021
Mary Ann Barry and Katie Cheneler at oakview elementary school fcps cares recognition event
Ms. Cheneler and Ms. Barry being at an FCPS CARES recognition event at Oak View Elementary School on September 27.

Congratulations to Special Education Teacher Katie Cheneler and Mary Ann Barry (School Counselor, Fairview Elementary School) ​​​on being recognized as the June 2021 Region 4 FCPS CARES Recipients of the Month by the Department of Human Resources!

Below is the write up submitted by Lora Adams, a colleague at Oakview Elementary School.

There is an older country song where the country singer sings 'I sure could hear a little good news today.' Here is a story that is good new worthy about a group of neighborhood heroes that should be recognized.

I received a call this evening at home to find out a former nonverbal special needs student who used to attend our school climbed out of a window in her house and ran from her home in the early evening. It just so happened that our former counselor, Mary Ann Barry was driving down the road after dropping her daughter off at soccer practice. She pulled over and tried to help this child when she spotted her running down the middle of Sideburn Road. Two police officers, Officer Hughes and Officer Gibbons joined her to assist.

Another community member who has an adult child with special needs pulled over to lend a hand. They were able to coerce the child out of the street and get her safely to the side of the road. The child was in distress and clearly agitated. They were able to contact the parent. The parent had no means of transportation and the child was insistent to get into the school building.

The team stayed with the parent and child seeking ways to de-escalate the situation. Mary Ann Barry contacted school administration, who was able to connect the team with the child’s former special education teacher, Katie Cheneler. She immediately responded and met the team at the school. Ms. Cheneler and Ms. Barry diffused the situation and were able to communicate with this student and reunite her with her mother.

After hours of assistance, this team of heroes was able to get the parent and the child safely home. Words cannot do justice to the amount of patience, compassion, and concern that each of these members contributed to the safety of this child. The police officers were compassionate and took precautionary measures to ensure that the child would not put herself at risk by guarding the street and protecting the child from eloping back into traffic.

During the past year, our community has been exposed to many different obstacles of hurt and strife. We have experienced many challenges. We have battled a pandemic and we have witnessed others being mistreated. And this is what we see as part of our headlines each night on the news. Please understand, I am not trying to discredit the importance of this awareness.

And the heroic stories such as these often go unnoticed and unreported.

This story has a happy ending. The child is safe. Caring members of our community came together. They  recognized a need, reacted immediately, and used their skills and their talents to ensure that a child and her parent were reunited and taken care of.

I am proud to report that today my heroes were public servants and true members of our community. I am proud to recognize the heroes and heroines in our community: Mary Ann Barry, School Counselor, Katie Cheneler, Special Education Teacher, Officer Gibbons, West Springfield Station, Officer Hughes, West Springfield Station, Unknown Community Member and Mother of a Child with Special Needs.