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Al Poklemba—or Poky as he is affectionately known—arrived in the Nest in 1978 to serve as an assistant varsity baseball coach and as a Lower School P.E. teacher. He and his wife, Sherri, settled into Jane Bay dormitory and became houseparents. McDonogh was home.
Eventually, Coach Poklemba had added the role of P.E. Department Chair to his job titles while continuing with his coaching duties. In the early 1990s, considered the golden years of McDonogh baseball, he led the JV team to two B Conference championships and the varsity team to the 1992 crown. That same year, the Eagles were named one of the top 10 teams in Maryland and Coach Poklemba earned the Baltimore Sun’s “Coach of the Year” honors. Two years later, he was given the title of “MSAC Private School Coach of the Year.”
Coach Poklemba left McDonogh in 1994 and over the next 17 years served as an athletic administrator helping two other independent schools in the region grow their programs. But his real love was as a teacher and coach, so he returned to McDonogh in 2011, where he has since taught in every division. A man for all seasons, he also coached Fresh-Soph soccer, Middle School hoops, and JV baseball.
Teacher, coach, athletic administrator, mentor, lacrosse official, dorm parent, esteemed colleague, and friend, Coach Poklemba believes that each day is an opportunity to “give a kid his very best.” He comes to school with a bounce in his step, ready to have fun, and to share his enthusiasm with children of all ages.
Coach Poklemba has had a positive influence on the lives of thousands of students in his more than 50 years of teaching and coaching because he cares about them as people, helping them believe they can achieve anything they put their minds to. He is a shining example of how to “be the best of whoever you are.”
Al, the McDonogh community is grateful for your contributions, and we wish you all the best in retirement.