It All Started Here … Michael R. Pugh
NORTH EAST, Md. –From an early age, Michael R. Pugh realized the value and power of education. This realization has driven him to step to the forefront of promoting early-childhood programs within the community for future generations.
As the Cecil County Public Library prepares to break ground on a new facility to service North East in 2019, Pugh has been recruited to chair the fundraising arm for early and youth education programs.
“Education is the key, no matter at what level or how people access it, to creating a multitude of opportunities. Without educational opportunities, a community cannot be successful, and Cecil County cannot thrive,” said Pugh. “This early learning center will be novel in the county. It will be a prototype of services eventually offered in the county’s other libraries.”
State and county funding sources will pay for the new library structure. Pugh’s campaign will cover the expense of development and support of programs to support early learning once the shell of the building is complete. The North East region of the county is home to a large percentage of families who qualify for Title I status and are in need of these services.
Title I is a federal grant program designed to provide support to strengthen various aspects of schools and other educational institutions through improvement of academic resources and student services so they can continue to participate in fulfilling the goal of equality in educational opportunities. The Free and Reduced Meals program is made possible through Title I.
Pugh knows the hardships of growing up in a community with few educational opportunities and the importance of taking advantage of those that present themselves. A graduate of Elkton High School back in the 1960s, he enrolled at Cecil Community College in September 1968. In addition to the affordable cost and the ability to live at home, he was able to take advantage of the evening courses while working fulltime for local surveyors during the day.
On May 24, 1970, Pugh was one of the first 11 people to receive a diploma from Cecil Community College.
“In the time after I graduated from high school, there were no educational opportunities in Cecil County. Founded in 1968, Cecil College gave me an opportunity at continuing my education that was affordable,” said Pugh, who went on to the University of Maryland for his bachelor’s degree. “The tie between the library, the county schools, and the college are all opportunity driven. It sets up the ability for people, who couldn’t otherwise access, to potentially give themselves a better life. And it did for me.”
The goal is to be a community outreach to pre-school children and their families, providing the opportunities to develop the learning skills necessary to be successful later in life. It is also to ensure income is not a barrier to education. The early childhood learning center, as well as other youth services in the new library, will help youngsters gain learning skills along with ability to deal with elements of the real world they will come across. The exact design of the programs is being worked out.
“My job with fundraising is to gather the dollars necessary to build the portion of the library that deals with these program issues. I will be coordinating with the Friends Foundation of the Cecil County Public Library which is the day-to-day fundraising arm, but the work I am doing is a special kind of fundraising piece,” Pugh.
Pugh, who also chairs the Bainbridge Development Corp., is exceptionally proud to have been asked by the library to head the campaign for early education programs. He emphasized the importance of the Cecil County Public Library working with the Cecil County Public Schools, and Cecil College to ensure prosperity within the county and surrounding region.
The new library will be in the North East Station Shopping Center, across from the Food Lion grocery store. The location provides easy accessibility and high visibility. The new bridge over the Amtrak rails features sidewalks and pedestrian crossing, servicing North East Elementary School, North East Middle School, Bayville Elementary School and Charlestown Elementary School.
Pugh has been an advocate for Cecil County his entire life. After working 15 years as the Director of Planning and Economic Development, he has been the president of Corridor Land Services, a real estate consulting and project management business in Elkton, Md. The North East Library completion date is early 2021.
“Education is the foundation of job creation and having the economic development here that will produce the jobs is important to keep people here. When I graduated high school, for the most part, everybody left. There just were not jobs for advancing yourself. That is not the case anymore. There are big economic bases in the counties that surround Cecil County, and we are in the process of building our economic base.”