Changing Lives Together

Employee Spotlight: Donna Smikle

Q: Describe your role at Sheppard Pratt.

I am the principal at the Sheppard Pratt School in Gaithersburg. It is a nonpublic special education school that serves students diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and/or related disabilities. I oversee the day-to-day operations of my school and ensure that we remain in compliance with the guidelines set by Maryland State Department of Education, our partnering counties, and Sheppard Pratt.

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I was born in Brooklyn and my family is from Jamaica, West Indies. The personal values that direct my life are faith, honesty, happiness, fun, loyalty, professionalism, and consistency.

Q: What does a typical day look like for you?

I start each day by visiting the classrooms and engaging with each student. This is the best part of my day! I then devote the first half of my day to responding to emails, making and returning phone calls, and completing paperwork. The second half of my day is usually dedicated to collaborating with my admin team and spending time with our students in the classrooms.

I would like the parents of my student to know that everyone is their own ‘beautiful’ – we are not all made to fit in. Throughout your journey as a parent, remember to appreciate the little things that we sometimes take for granted.

Q: What is your favorite part about working for Sheppard Pratt?

My favorite part about working for Sheppard Pratt is the collaboration and support throughout the organization. All you need to do is pick up the telephone and there is someone willing to help and answer your questions. Sheppard Pratt employees are genuinely caring and compassionate individuals, which fosters a safe and healthy work environment.  

Q: What has been your favorite project to work on?

My favorite project is one that has become one of the major successes of my school. When I began working at our school in Gaithersburg, my goal was to provide real-world learning opportunities that aligned with the curriculum and motivated students. Today, each student learns through community-based instruction, multiple job site experiences, and recreational activities – our students are out in society each day of the week.

Q: What do you like to do outside of work? What is your favorite thing to do during the weekend?

When I am not at work, I enjoy reading and watching crime shows on TV. On the weekends, my favorite things to do are spending time with my family and going to church.  

Q: What would you title the autobiography of your life?

I always try to be authentic and transparent, so the title of my autobiography would be, “Just Me.”

Fast Facts About Donna

Sheppard Pratt Schools

We are proud to be the largest provider of nonpublic special education schools and programming in Maryland. We operate 13 Type I, Type II, and residential schools across the state, and serve students with autism spectrum disorders, behavioral disabilities, and intellectual disabilities.