Battle Monument honors longtime friend, supporter
Wednesday, 12 February 2014 13:16

Dr. Lawrence Pakula was honored during an assembly at Battle Monument School last week.
photo by Nicole Rodman

Pakula honored for work with local school

by Nicole Rodman

    Last Friday, the Battle Monument School community came together to honor a longtime friend and supporter of the school.
    For decades, pediatrician Dr. Lawrence Pakula visited the school on a monthly basis, answering questions and sharing his expertise with the staff.
    Though he retired last June, Dr. Pakula remains a beloved part of the Battle Monument family.
    Pakula grew up in Kansas City, Mo., and earned a bachelor’s degree from Beloit College in Beloit, Wis., before moving to Baltimore.
    In Baltimore, he completed his residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
    He briefly moved to the Philippines where he served as chief of Pediatrics at Clark Air Force Base Hospital for two years before returning to Baltimore.
    In 1963, Pakula founded what is today known as Pavilion Pediatrics at Green Spring Station in Timonium.
    Though he is now retired, Pakula continues to sit on a number of boards.
    Throughout his long career, Pakula maintained an interest in helping children with behavioral and developmental issues.
    For Pakula, the opportunity to work with children with special needs has been an especially fulfilling aspect of his career.
    “It happens to be very rewarding. The families are very receptive, and they’re eager to discuss things,” he said, adding, “I’ve very much enjoyed it.”
    Pakula’s interest in working with special-needs patients would lead him to begin working with the staff of Battle Monument School more than 40 years ago.
    Battle Monument School educates students with a variety of special needs.
    As Pakula explained, each month he would visit the school, speaking to staff about medical issues as well as the emotional aspect of working with special-needs children.
    Over the years, the staff would come to look forward to Pakula’s visits, relying on him to help them form a greater understanding of their students’ experiences and needs.
    In addition to his work at Battle Monument, Pakula also consulted at other schools for special-needs students across the county, including Ridge Ruxton and White Oak schools.
    Though he was the one being honored for his contributions, Pakula was quick to note that he also gained much from his experiences at Battle Monument.
    “My family always said that they only hoped the school got as much out of my coming here as I got out of it,” he said with a smile.   
    At Battle Monument’s monthly assembly last Friday, staff members took the opportunity to show Pakula just how much his work has benefited the school.
    Before calling Pakula to the podium, school principal Jerry Easterly praised the doctor as a “champion of children and their health issues.”
    “More than once it was Dr. Pakula’s advice that helped a family or staff turn a corner in caring for a child,” he noted.
    Easterly also responded to Pakula’s remark that he hoped the school got as much out of his work as he did.
    “To answer that question we say — unanimously and loudly — absolutely!,” Easterly exclaimed.
    Following his remarks, Easterly thanked Pakula’s wife Sheila, presenting her with a flower arrangement.
    He then called Pakula to the podium and presented him with a framed collage.
    The collage included pictures of Pakula throughout the years as well as kind words about his work.
    In large letters the collage proclaimed Pakula “a hero to special needs.”
    For Pakula, the admiration is mutual.
    “This is just an incredible environment, this school,” he said of Battle Monument, noting, “The faculty at all levels here have been very medically sophisticated.”
    “This is a wonderful place with amazing people,” he concluded. “They are really devoted to these children and their families.”