Sharon Lilly, principal of Mt. Airy Middle School, and Katie Nefflen, assistant principal at Westminster High School, have been named as the recipients of the 11th annual Rita Board Dowd Awards for Outstanding Carroll County School Administrators.

These awards are given annually to two school administrators – one principal and one assistant principal (K-12) – awarded independently. The goal of the awards is to recognize exceptional educational leadership in serving Carroll County Public Schools and its students.

Sharon Lilly has 22 years in education. She began her career as an English and Journalism teacher in Baltimore County in 1998. She came to Century High School in 2006 where she served as English Department Chair, Academic Facilitator, and Acting Assistant Principal. In 2012, she became assistant principal of North Carroll Middle School. She also served as an assistant principal at Oklahoma Road and East Middle Schools up to her appointment as principal at Mt. Airy Middle School in 2018.

Lilly creates a positive, supportive, and challenging learning environment for middle school learners that empowers teachers, students, and parents to live the vision of the school. She cares deeply about her students and is extremely supportive of all school events. She has worked over the past two years to strengthen the Student Government Association and encourage the organization to create its own events and fundraisers for the school community.

According to Natalie DelRegno, the parent who nominated Lilly for the award, “Ms. Lilly puts her heart into Mt. Airy Middle, and it shows through the integrity of the staff and the success of our students. She puts the school first and is always looking for ways to bring the school and community together.”

Lilly is dedicated to assuring equity for all students. She represents CCPS administrators on the Education That is Multicultural Council and participates in leadership development as part of the Diversity Leadership Team. She received an Equity and Excellence in Education Graduate Certificate from McDaniel College and is a past recipient of the CCPS ETM Administrator of the Year Award.

Lilly was the Carroll County Teacher of the Year in 2010 and received the Rita Board Dowd Award for assistant principals in 2017.

Katie Nefflen began her career in education as a physics teacher in 2006. She later served as the Coordinator of Secondary Science for the school system and became assistant principal at Westminster High School in 2017. Prior to entering the field of education, Nefflen served as a U.S. Navy Officer and GE Energy Operations Manager. As assistant principal, Nefflen manages all aspects of the regionalized special education BEST programs at Westminster High School, is the master schedule builder, and coordinates professional development. She has assisted in building a positive school climate among staff, students, and the community and acted as the administrative liaison for graduation.

Nefflen is always on top of things as an administrator. She is well aware of the ever-changing nature of our educational system and is extremely knowledgeable about current policies. Because of her extensive classroom experience, Nefflen understands the hindrances that the classroom teacher faces when trying to work collaboratively and finds creative ways to support collaboration. She is a positive influence in the building, and her competence inspires everyone to work harder to reach all students.  In addition to the many school events she attends, she also frequently attends other community activities to show her support for students.

According to math teacher Dott Johnson, one of Nefflen’s nominators for the award, “Katie loves her job. She exudes such a passion for helping teachers and supporting students. She always keeps the students’ best interests at heart while remaining fair and consistent.”

The Rita Board Dowd Award for Outstanding Carroll County School Administrators was created in 2010. Dowd taught biology and science at North Carroll High School from 1997 to 2002. She was a member of the faculty that opened Winters Mill High School in 2002 and taught biology until her appointment as assistant principal in 2006.

Any full-time elementary, middle, high school, career and technology, or alternative program principal or assistant principal in the Carroll County Public School System may be nominated for this award. Any student, administrator, teacher, parent, faculty and staff member, or other individual may nominate someone they feel deserves consideration for the award.

The selection committee was composed of a member of Rita Board Dowd’s family, the previous year’s winners, school directors, and the Chief of Schools. The entire committee reviewed every application and letter submitted. There were many deserving nominees, although only one could be named in each category.



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